Miriam Novalle was a professional perfumer for more than 25 years before she turned the talents of her fine-tuned nose to a new consuming passion: blending tea. She founded her business known as T Salon in SoHo in 1992. With a sales pitch that combines boutique natural-foods market appeal (including an endorsement from Oprah) with a corporate commitment to environmental sustainability and philanthropy related to women’s health issues, T Salon found its niche. And then it moved its global headquarters to Midtown Kingston – just off Greenkill Avenue, where decades of urban blight are now giving way to an arts-driven renaissance.
Open by appointment only from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday, T Salon’s warehouse/shop at 5 Sterling Street offers the company’s full line of both caffeinated and herbal tea blends, all of them using organically grown ingredients. You can get them in standard one-cup teabag form, as bottled iced teas and as concentrated leaf blends for cold-brewing at home by the quart. Popular blends include Queen of Earl, Healing Heaven, Ancient Sage, Good Night Irene, Immunity, Detox, Purification, Balance and Green Tea with Coconut and Pineapple.
Relatively new to Novalle’s T Salon line are products infused with phyto cannabinoid or cannabidiol (CBD), one of the many non-psychoactive compounds in cannabis whose health applications are just beginning to be subjected to controlled research, now that medical marijuana is becoming a more widely accepted treatment for a variety of ills. While CBD shows some promise of being useful as an anti-inflammatory, antipsychotic, antidepressant and/or sleep aid, and has been approved in the UK, Canada and Sweden for treating pain and spasms in multiple sclerosis patients, so far the US only sanctions its use for two rare forms of early childhood epilepsy, Lennox-Gastaut and Dravet syndromes.
But the people behind High Tea are emphasizing the growing popularity of cannabinoid compounds as general health tonics. They get around the limited legality of CBD as a treatment option by extracting their phyto cannabinoid infusion from industrial hemp, which they note “contains omega-3 fatty acids, terpenes, vitamins and chlorophyll.”
Growing hemp is as all-American as it gets, says Novalle, quoting Thomas Jefferson on her website as saying, “Hemp is of first necessity to the wealth and protection of the country,” and George Washington as urging, “Make the most you can of the Indian Hemp seed and sow it everywhere.” During the Colonial era, hemp was used to make rope and canvas products for ships, cloth for fabric and pulp for paper. According to Anna Berkes, an historian at Monticello, “Thomas Jefferson did grow hemp, but there is no evidence to suggest that Jefferson was a habitual smoker of hemp, tobacco, or any other substance.”
High Tea traces the blending of hemp with tea leaves to China in 2737 BC, when the emperor Shen Nung “was said to have been already prescribing cannabis-infused tea for the treatment of gout, rheumatism, malaria and, oddly enough, poor memory.”
The High Tea line also comes in teabag, homebrew and bottled formulations, but some new ways of enjoying it are currently being added. There are already “tub tea” blends meant for a relaxing hot soak: a good option for those who should avoid ingesting CBD internally because it, like grapefruit, inhibits the metabolization of certain prescription drugs, or who are already taking medications for epilepsy. Coming soon are chocolate truffles and sugar-free, gluten-free cookies, both infused with phyto cannabinoid.
To learn more about High Tea and the other lines offered by the T Salon, check out www.hightea.today or make an appointment by calling (917) 673-4904 to visit the T Salon shop/warehouse Tuesdays through Thursdays at 5 Sterling Street in Kingston. Products are also available through online or mail order.