Oh, how I love having fun with tea logos. As I’ve mentioned before (see list below), a series of local artists have been creating logos for our house blends. Today’s new logo is for a tea that started out as a custom blend for my wife, Kathy. She is a chocoholic who loves tea. She has tried chocolate tea blends from various companies, and decided that she’s not a fan of chocolate tea blends using mild-flavored tea. She likes to be able to taste the chocolate and the tea.
So we came up with a blend based on a loose-leaf shu (ripe) pu-erh blended with cocoa nibs (and a few other things). The result was so good, we decided to give it a permanent home on the tea bar’s menu. After struggling for a while to come up with a name reflecting its Chinese origins: Terracotta Army Chocolate Pu-erh.
The logo was produced by artist (and art history professor) Kory Rountree:
We love that Kory started with one of the soldiers in the real Terracotta Army, made him chocolate, and gave him a cup of tea. He actually provided two logos for us to choose between. We picked the one above because it is clear, simple, and easy to identify even at small sizes. I actually prefer the alternative (shown below), but it’s just too complex to put on a little tea label.
The details are what really make this one. Note the eyes on the soldier above and left of the chocolate soldier. You can almost hear him thinking “Yummy!” The one above and to the right has a similar, but more subtle expression. It’s not obvious at first glance, but if you look closely, the soldier to the right of the chocolate fellow is holding a piece of the melted/broken chocolate arm in one hand, and a cup of chocolate pu-erh tea in the other.
Thank you, Kory! Another awesome logo for the collection!
This is the latest in a collection of labels I’ve written about here before:
Such a delay! It was about eight months ago that I came up with the Mr. Excellent’s Post-Apocalyptic Earl Grey Tea blend (see my blog post about it here), and we finally have a logo for it! This one was drawn by my son’s friend from college, Brandon Pope.
I’ve found that logo art comes out better if I don’t tell the artist what I want, so I gave Brandon little more information than the name of the tea and what it is (an Earl Grey lapsang souchong). If I could draw, I probably would have done something with a dude sitting in the middle of a burned-out town, his shotgun at his side, drinking a cup of tea as the zombies eye him from a distance. In other words, something way to complex to use as a logo.
Brandon came up with the skull and gas mask, with one of the air filters replaced by a teacup. Very simple, yet immediately recognizable. His original was a hand-lettered pencil sketch (see below), which I needed to colorize. Brandon’s shading was great, especially where the texture of the paper showed, so I just added solid blocks of color behind the skull, mask, and teacup.
I really, really wanted to put this one on a black background, and I just couldn’t seem to make that work using his text. I re-did the text using a fun font called “Disgusting Behavior,” stretched vertically to achieve the look and aspect ratio that I was after. A blood-red color for the text with a subtle glow and an emboss effect finished it off perfectly.
For comparison, here is Brandon’s original pencil sketch (below) and the final logo (above). You can click on the final logo for a larger image.
This whole program of guest artists for tea logos (kicked off by Al Jones and his Hammer & Cremesickle logo) has been a blast. Thank you very much to Brandon for the artwork, and watch this space for guest logos by husband and wife team Doug and Suzanna Bailey, coming up soon.
After my blog post a couple of weeks ago about Twinings changing their Earl Grey formulation, I went to my favorite online forum (the Straight Dope Message Boards) and started a poll to see what people thought about it. I never thought at the time that it would lead to a whole new spin on Earl Grey tea.
During the discussion, a fellow who uses the online moniker “Mr. Excellent” commented that:
“But yah, Twinings is acceptable, but I prefer to get my tea from a local tea shop. And lapsang souchong is more my thing, anyway. (Though adding bergamot could be neat …) “
The idea of a smoky lapsang souchong with bergamot just seemed wonderful to me, and I commented that I was going to give a shot at creating one. Mr. Excellent responded with:
“I’m looking forward to hearing how the Post-Apocalyptic Earl Gray works out! (Named thus because, with the smokiness of the lapsang, it should be like Earl Gray that survived some firey holocaust and came out awesome.) “
Over the course of the day, I played with recipes, and drank a lot of tea. By mid-afternoon, I was getting fairly close to what I wanted, and described it thus:
“The various strong flavors in this tea hit you at different times. As you bring the cup up to your mouth, the bergamot is the first thing to hit the nose, cutting through the smokiness of the lapsang souchong. When you take the first sip, the bergamot all but disappears, leaving the pine smoke flavor, which fades into the base tea (an organic black Yunnan) as it swirls through your mouth. After you swallow, the bergamot returns, blending with the smoke to create a lingering aftertaste.”
My goal was to create a blend that would make you feel like you were sitting among the smoldering remains of civilization, enjoying a nice cup of tea before hefting your shotgun and going back to fighting off the zombies. After another week or so of experimentation, I think I hit it. “Mr. Excellent’s Post-Apocalyptic Earl Grey” has officially gone on the menu at our tea bar, and as soon as I have the new tea website finished you will be able to buy it online.
Thank you, Mr. Excellent, for the idea and the name. I hope you enjoy the tea!
[UPDATE May 2012: Our new tea bar website is up and running, and Mr. Excellent’s Post-Apocalyptic Earl Grey is available for purchase now. It’s also now our second most popular Earl Grey out of the eight that are currently on our menu. I’ve updated links in this blog post accordingly.]
[UPDATE May 2015: My book, “Myths & Legends of Tea, volume 1” is out, and there’s a chapter devoted to the (fictional) backstory of Mr. Excellent’s Post-Apocalyptic Earl Grey. It’s set in Australia, 20 years from now…