June 19, 2014
Linda Villano co-founded SerendipiTea in 1995 with Tomislav Podreka. With a passion for all things Tea, she oversees all aspects of the business; including client consulting, concept & design, staff training, sourcing & product development (recipe creations). Having grown up in a family of restaurateurs and chefs, she considers her role as a purveyor of premium teas & tisanes a natural continuation of her family’s culinary tradition.
Linda is a published illustrator & writer. Her illustrations appear in Tomislav Podreka’s book, SerendipiTea: a guide to the varieties, origins and rituals of tea, & she writes articles about tea for trade publications.
Consenses Interview with Sally Taylor:
Your Name: Linda Villano
Where you live: Port Washington, NY
Where you came from: NY
Your Medium: Tea
The name of your work: Evolution
Price: Wholesale (the price you will sell if to CONSENSES for in bulk): $12.00/lb (1 lb of tea makes approximately 180 cups)
What made you want to participate in this project?
I was very fortunate to have been invited by wonderful Sally herself!
Without going back to look at the painting what do you remember of it?
I remember prominent blocks of color (red, blue, black), the red & blue interrupted sporadically by short dabs of a golden hue & a figure of a fair, young woman facing forward, gazing outwards.
What was your first reaction to the painting? (thoughts, emotions, memories, tastes, smells etc?)
I was impressed initially by the bold colors & the minimal, even starkness of the work. I wanted to know what the figure was seeing, thinking, doing. The red & blue brought to my mind the aroma & taste of berries. Not that the subject matter in the piece conveyed this at all, this impression was purely based on color.
If you had to choose one word to sum up the painting what would it be?
What emotion did the painting elicit?
Contemplation, passivity, calm
What was the painting about in your mind? (Did it tell a story? Who was it? Etc.)
Yes! The more I contemplated the piece I began to see that, to me, it depicted a captured moment in the figure’s creative process. It appeared to me as though the figure was the artist becoming her work. I see what look like brushes in her right hand & the left hand is actually already melding with the colors of the piece, as is the left side of her face & hairline. Her features are faded, smooth, suggestions, there is a sense of the figure melding with her work.
Take me through each step of your process from getting the painting to the creation of your tea.
As blended tea is my medium for this project the visual appeal is just as important as the aroma & ultimately the taste. There is a tactile component as well in the blending process, in the selection of various ingredients with differing textures which add to the visual appeal. When I initially viewed the painting I was first impressed by the colors. Going through the ingredients I work with I thought about what they remind me of…what flavors would translate well. I also contemplated the figure & her place, her role in the painting. I soon sensed that this was a portrait of the artist herself in the process of becoming her art….an evolution. With this in mind I felt that the blend should not only be colorful (representing the visual palette of the piece) but also incorporate the process of evolving. I attempting to layer flavors of varying intensities so that the blend would evolve in the cup & in the mouth….certain flavors would reveal themselves at different times, others would linger a bit……so the imbiber would contemplate the process.
What did you title your work and why?
MELD ~ although not a pretty sounding word (I don’t think?) it just kept popping into my mind. I suppose once I fixated on a belief that the painting was the artist becoming her work & what we are viewing is the melding of her “self” with her work, becoming her work I couldn’t shake it. It is a word that sounds like Blend (which is what the tea is) but better represents the sense of melting into the colors of the painting. I thought about naming it BECOMING or MOMENTO….I must admit I’m not completely comfortable with the name & would like to consider this a Working Title. I’ll send a final name within the next few days if you don’t mind.
What part of your tea came to you first?
The colors impressed me first so I was moved to incorporate red fruits & blueberry & blue flowers.
How do you normally create? How was this experience different?
Inspiration comes in so many different ways ~ food, nature, a passage in a poem, a song, a character in a book or film even from people I know. Characters & Traits can be translated, as you know, into so many different media ~ I often wonder how often these translations are recognized & how many remain “inside” secrets of maker.
What techniques/tools did you use to help you express your interpretation?
When working with tea or any consumable it’s necessary to maintain a flavor “catalog” in one’s memory. To keep this fresh & growing it’s important to continue exploring new ingredients & testing new combinations.
Are there certain choices you made which mean something specific to you that the observer might not know?
When creating a new blend I believe it’s very important that every ingredient exists in the blend for a reason. I prefer uncluttered mixtures where there are layers of complexity achieved through varying intensities of the ingredients used. The ConSENSUS blend (Meld) contains the following ingredients: Guatemalan Black Tea, Apple Bits, Blueberry, Strawberry, Corn Flowers, Blackberry Leaves, Hibiscus, Rosehips. The fruit provided color that represented color in the painting as well as a way to encourage an imbiber to imagine a visual of the painting. The Tea was selected to represent the Black presence in the piece & like the black in the painting it provided an anchor, a firm foundation for the colors, the fruits.
Extra credit: Did you enjoy this project? More you want to say about your experience?
YES! I can’t wait for what is yet to come.