Steve Schwartz is a Master Tea Blender and the Founder of Art of Tea, a hand-crafted tea purveyor based in Los Angeles. At Art of Tea, Steve applies his background in ayurveda, initially cultivated during his time studying at the Ayurvedic Institute in New Mexico, to the creation of award-winning blends that showcase his passion for the alchemy of combining herbs and botanicals.

Schwartz was originally drawn to the field after his mom died of cancer when he was 19-years-old. He became fascinated with Eastern and preventative medicine as an alternative to the Western medicine that failed to save his mom. Following his tenure at the Ayurvedic Institute, Schwartz traveled the world to meet with farmers in Asia, India, Africa and the Middle East to broaden his knowledge of tea, and learn how climate and terroir impacts its expression and flavor. While he didn’t initially plan to start a tea company, after settling back in his hometown of Los Angeles, he began experimenting with blending different teas and botanicals in his living room. He developed an underground following and started making custom formulations for chefs such as Wolfgang Puck while also teaching others the art of blending.

As enthusiasm for his blends continued to grow, Schwartz began honing in on a vision for the company that would become Art of Tea. He immersed himself in learning about entrepreneurship, initially through CD’s on marketing & business strategy that he would listen to while traveling and driving to and from tastings. He took the leap to found Art of Tea in 2004 and has since grown the company from a small-scale operation in his living room to a world-renowned brand with a warehouse in Monterey Park, just outside of Downtown Los Angeles.

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Image by Audrey Ma

Tea, like skincare, can have healing properties. What are the biggest healing benefits of tea?
The biggest healing benefits of tea revolve around ritual. The intention that goes into slowing down and taking the time to select the leaves, teaware, calling the water to the right temperature, etc., supports mental health and well-being. Developing a tea ritual allows us to find peace and restoration through the motions of preparing and savoring tea.

How does Art of Tea ensure it produces the highest quality tea with the least amount of waste?
Steeping loose leaf tea is as simple as using high-quality, fresh leaves and clean water. At Art of Tea, our commitment to organic and sustainable products has been foundational to our company since the beginning when I was hand-blending teas in my living room. Beyond our sourcing methods, we are increasingly conscious of our carbon footprint, transitioning to a paperless order production process and always using tea bags that are derived from corn and are microplastic free.

How does Art of Tea work to source the best ingredients from all over the world?
We are vertically integrated, meaning we source teas and botanicals directly from farmers around the world. We’ve built lasting relationships with our farmers, many of whom we’ve worked with for over 17 years, to bring in the top 2% of all teas produced in the world in order to deliver the most delicious teas available.

Image by Audrey Ma

Which tea is best for helping you wind down and prepare for a restful night of sleep?
Tea has always been the original supplement for sleep, so we created a sleep blend based on Ayurvedic principles. Our Sleep Tea features chamomile, spearmint and valerian teas, resulting in a calming, smooth and minty cup when brewed.

Which blend can best help you start your morning routine off right?
Matcha Plus. The blend is a balance of ceremonial grade matcha and shade grown sencha green tea. It gives me clean energy that helps me stay positive and focused in the morning, setting the tone for the rest of my day.

What are your favorite ingredients to use in tea? Why?
Clean water. A simple, clean filtration system opens up the subtle flavors within the leaves and allows for deeper penetration of the essences within the tea.

What is the secret to brewing the perfect cup of tea?
Water temperature. If you focus on water temperature for the right tea you can meet your perfect cup at its peak brewing moment. Each of our teas include a recommended temperature for brewing the optimal cup, but for some general guidelines, when filling your kettle, alway start with cold water from the tap. Once the water begins to boil, you’ll want to consider the temperature for each type of tea. Black tea should be brewed somewhere between 95-98 degrees Celsius, but green tea is best with water that is between 80-85 degrees Celsius. Each tea releases its flavor at a different temperature.

March 8 is International Women’s Day—and this year’s theme is #ChooseToChallenge. The Goldfaden MD team talked to five incredible women who are navigating life’s challenges: juggling building businesses and finding time to take care of themselves.  We asked them about their own personal challenges and how they find balance, inspiration, and most of all, support (with a little skincare sprinkled in).

ALICIA EASTER:

This year’s theme for IWD is #ChooseToChallenge. What does that mean to you? 

Allowance. We always have the right to change our mind, grow, set boundaries which allow us to be our full, loving, and honest selves. Too often as women we play small in order to be understood while neglecting the very important component of innerstanding ourselves, first. As long as we know our core intention and is not causing harm to ourselves or the collective, then do you! I like to say, “Stay Brave in Your Pursuit of Joy!” 

Who/What/Where do you look for inspiration and support? 

First and foremost I look to God, my mother, and teachings of Yoga. I am inspired by humans who choose everyday to put one foot in front of the other and not give up. I am inspired by my own journey as an entrepreneur, teacher, daughter, sister, friend and who I yet to become. I could have made the decision to quit on life a long time ago, but I didn’t, and for that I will always keep God first and believe in myself to follow the path He laid out for me. I am constantly inspired by all the elements: earth, sky, fire, air, and water. I might sound a little woo, but I no longer require much to fill my cup and to be inspired. If I get to wake up to a new new day, look at God, what a beautiful gift!  Anything after that, dear friends, are all excellent bonuses…my work, family, friends, students, clients and my beloved teachers. 

What is your hero Goldfaden MD product?

I mean, do I have to only pick one?! Well, I love Bright Eyes, FLEURESSENCE, and the Doctors Scrub but GFMD really does make magic in their products. Do y’all use Baby Unicorn Tears of Overflow, or something?! LOL!

AMBI SITHAM: 

This year’s theme for IWD is #ChooseToChallenge. What does that mean to you?

Honing in on the causes closest to my heart and supporting these through donations, raising awareness, and fighting the good fight. There are many causes that I support, but one that I feel deeply  connected to is that of maternal mortality. The data exposes the racial and economic disparities that mean so many women unnecessarily die during pregnancy or childbirth, or suffer tremendously in the post-partum period. As a new Mom, I feel passionately about this and support a variety of organizations whose mission is to make pregnancy and giving birth an equitable process and making post-partum care accessible for all women, both across the world and here in the USA.

I am also choosing to challenge myself to become more financially literate. Although I am well educated in many ways, I feel I missed out on this vital component that would have better equipped me to deal with some of life’s challenges. I feel that all women can be empowered by having true financial literacy and this is fundamental to achieving equality. While I am engaging in this process myself, I am also supporting organizations that help women all over the world to do the same.

Who/What/Where do you look for inspiration and support?

My Mom and my sister in law are pretty amazing strong women who inspire me with their feats and my  Mother in law is one of the most compassionate people I have ever met. I feel lucky to be able to look to my family for both inspiration and support. Also, my close girlfriends. From my childhood friends of 30 plus years to strong friendships I have formed since moving to LA., I am grateful to be both inspired and supported by my tribe in our collective mission to do good and bring justice and equality to our world in our own unique ways.

What is your hero Goldfaden MD product?

Ah, it’s hard to name just one but I cannot live without the Facial Detox mask. It is a must in both my skin and self-care regime!

Mariah K. LYONS:

This year’s theme for IWD is #ChooseToChallenge. What does that mean to you?

#ChooseToChallenge to me means having the courage to think, act and create differently than in the past or what you might have been taught. It is challenging the status quo and choosing to create your own path and life. It might always be easy, but it’s always worth it. 

Who/What/Where do you look for inspiration and support?

Nature is my constant inspiration and support. 

What is your hero Goldfaden MD product?

Plant Profusion Night Creme (my absolute favorite creme I’ve ever tried!)

SHANNON SOLLER:

#ChoosetoChallenge- What does that mean to you?

For me, #Choosetochallenge is the continual reminder as a female founder, wife, mother, daughter that as women we must never stop pushing boundaries,  calling out inequities when we see them, thriving to continue to educate ourselves and empower our children to become informed about making a positive change in our world. I’m personally involved with advocating for Dyslexia and Literacy being a basic civil right for all. 1 and 5 people are dyslexic and yet children are not being taught to read in schools. It is my mission to raise awareness, and advocate for those without a voice. 

Who/What/Where do you look for inspiration and support?

This past year has challenged us all in more ways that any thought possible. I am so grateful for the neighborhood I live in and the diverse group of women who have become my closest friends. Aside from being able to literally borrow an egg from my neighbors, these women have become my rocks and support system as we aim to raise mindful children, navigate marriage, keep our mental health in check and provide each other the overall fuel to get these trying times.

 What is your hero Goldfaden MD product?

I am a huge fan of so many Goldfaden products but my personal hero product is the Fresh-A-Peel Mask. The Lactic acid and fruit enzymes work in 2 minutes flat. My skin feels smoother, brighter and my pores clearer. I wish I had more time to mask and pamper myself and this product gives me that perfect glow every time!

WHITNEY TINGLE:

This year’s theme for IWD is #ChooseToChallenge. What does that mean to you?

It’s both important and powerful to challenge the views of others — and of ourselves. During this time of reflection, we are both looking at ourselves, the beliefs we carry out into the world, as well as the beliefs we are holding about ourselves.  At Sakara, we believe in challenging these limiting beliefs on a daily basis. The mind is a funny thing, often telling us we’re not good enough (not smart enough, pretty enough, thin enough, rich enough, whatever enough). But when we are able to move past these fears and insecurities, and embrace ourselves, there we are able to uncover our true power. Though it can be difficult, we each have the ability to choose the thoughts we think. And to challenge any thoughts that aren’t serving us. Believing in ourselves is the first step for each of us to start shining our lights a little brighter. And when we’re all shining our brightest lights, we light up the world for others. So, in this year’s theme, we are choosing to challenge our own thoughts and beliefs, and hope others join us in doing so as well. We each hold the power to transform, to make an impact, and create change–  it all starts within. 

Who/What/Where do you look for inspiration and support?

Finding support is crucial — especially as a new mama. I feel blessed to have an incredible group of women around me – both personally and professionally– who I look to for inspiration and support on a daily basis. Professionally, Sakara’s Leadership Team is composed of 9 women, all who are mothers as well. I was actually the last in the group to become a mother (just gave birth last fall), so I look to them for inspiration and advice on how to hold both roles of Mom and businesswoman.  This group has shown me how we can rework the “typical” culture for working mothers by showing empathy and compassion for each other as we all balance family life and work. And show each other that it is absolutely possible to be both hardworking and nurturing. They truly are an amazing group of individuals, who inspire me every day to be a better mother and entrepreneur!

What is your hero Goldfaden MD product?

My favorite Goldfaden MD products are the Doctor’s Scrub and Firm Believer – I’m obsessed! I’m a new mama and am busier than ever, so as of late, my ideal form of self care is taking 10 minutes at the end of the day to wind down and do a full skincare and body care routine. Both products leave my skin feeling so nourished and hydrated and it’s such a nice way to wind down at the end of the day.

In 2021, the Goldfaden MD team is manifesting Bright New Beginnings. After such a hard year, our goal is to approach this new chapter with optimism, peace of mind and even a blank slate. So, to give you a bit of inspiration, we tapped some of our favorite founders to see how they’ll be approaching the new year and making it a Bright New Beginning.

Annie Jackson | Co-Founder + COO of Credo

“Our bright new beginning is to be together in person as a team again.  After 9 months of all day zooming, we are excited to collaborate in person but more importantly hear how peoples weekends were, celebrate babies being born, talk over the lunch table.  I cannot wait.  We all know each other on a much deeper personal level now – which is ironic because it happened when we were separated.  We are stronger now more than ever at Credo and can’t wait to celebrate 2020 being over as a team, in real life.” 

Celene Gee | Gee Beauty + 6 By Gee Beauty

“My intention for 2021 is to be really present, and focus on what’s around me. How I can learn more, love more, give more, take more care of myself and the ones I love, and to create more. To try to take in the beauty of my surroundings each day, while exploring and having new experiences. Seeing beauty with my eyes in each day is my intention.”

Ariel Kaye | Founder of Parachute

“I’m a big believer in self-care and plan to carry the rituals and routines that serve me into 2021. I just had my second baby, so taking time to care for myself allows me to be the best mom to my kids and leader to my team at Parachute. For me, I turn to meditation, long walks, breathwork, and a warm shower each night to nurture my mind and body. I also like to be intentional with my home to create a nurturing environment. I plan to fill our space with music, flowers, natural light, and cozy textures in 2021.”

Olivia Muniak | Founder of La Cura

“In 2021 my intention is expansion and growth, harnessing the creative clarity and vision I’ve received in the past year and shift into actionable change. For me, that looks like reactivating events (when it’s safe), building out the catering services, and continuing to share the gift of entertaining at home. Personally, carving out more time for reading and analog activities, traveling (a girl can dream), and quality time with friends I have not seen!”

Kelly Marks |Co-Founder and Director of PuRe PR

“My intention for 2021 is to fully respect all aspects of my life, being sure to recognize joy, show gratitude and be positive. I’m a believer that what we put in, we get back. I will be making time for it all. “