ARTIST INTERVIEW: Anna Morton and Emily Erb of Leaves & Flowers
LEAVES AND FLOWERS is a California based tea company offering a unique selection of handcrafted herbal infusions and premium small batch teas. Their inspiration comes from the plants themselves – the mythology of their medicine, their potent leaves, delicate flowers, and the intoxicating aroma and flavor they release when infused. The company was founded by Emily Erb and Anna Morton with a conviction that herbal infusions be better represented within the world of tea. Using locally sourced herbs, Leaves and Flowers provides a superior herbal experience that honors the beauty and lore of these magical plants. Their herbal infusions are produced by hand in small batches at our workshop in Berkeley, CA.
We spoke to Emily and Anna about their creative journey and the wonderful teas they serve at the Echo Park Craft Fair.
What is your background and how have your past experiences fed into your art?
My past experiences have been a perpetual attempt to integrate ancient healing arts with our modern way of living. I got very into yoga and ayurveda in my early twenties, then went on to study western herbalism at a school in Northern California. My experiences with plants, both culinary and medicinal, have informed how we source, formulate and blend our teas.
What other artist currently working do you admire?
Ajit Chauhan is a constant favorite. He works with poetics, patterns, and most recently textiles and weaving. His work is intricate, delicate, and unexpectedly moving. Ajit is also just a wonderful person. In his gentle way he challenges the way I see, which I always appreciate.
Did you have any mentors or important creative influences?
My grandfather was and continues to be an important creative influence. He has just finished his first novel at 87. That kind of says it all.
How are you inspired by the environment around you, how does home/city/nature you live in, affect your work?
My work is intimately involved with the natural world. Nature is not only my inspiration – it is my medium. I spend quite a lot of time walking the hills near my home, and also out in West Marin. The plant kingdom is wondrous. I am in constant awe of it; and try to infuse that awe and wonder into our tea.
What do you do, or where do you go to seek fresh ideas or renewed creative energy?
When I am feeling in a creative slump it is important for me to take a breath from the project I’m struggling with. There are various ways I am capable of creating space to allow for a mental break, but the easiest for me is to go outside and connect with nature. I feel deeply inspired by the beauty and power of the natural world and feel really grateful that it is so easily accessible in the Bay Area. Our herbal blends are strongly connected to the land and this specific growing region, so I feel inspired if I just take a walk in the woods and look at, touch and smell the plants I pass by. On the other hand, being a city dweller, I feel quite fortunate that I feel really inspired by urban living. I love taking walks through the city and observing how light hits the buildings to create shapes and patterns. I try to be observant of my surroundings. In those moments I realize there is beauty and inspiration everywhere.
What do you hope to share with those who purchase your art and bring it intimately into their lives?
I’m not sure many would say that tea is art, but I do hope that people establish a certain relationship with our product. I really hope that our tea gives people a reason to take a moment in their day to slow down, just for a moment. We live in such a fast paced world and I personally know that I need to make a concerted effort to make time everyday to just relax and sit with my thoughts. Preparing a cup of tea allows for this in my life. If there is someone else around it is all the better to take time to share the moment with them.