When Ilah Rose and Nick Cookston-Minton launched Bouquet Coffee Roasters, their wholesale coffee and tea venture, in 2017, they were guided by a simple ethos: “connection to the land, connection to the plants, connection to the production process,” as Rose puts it. Five years later, the couple, who also operate The Mill cafes, have stayed true to that vision.
Rose, who oversees the tea side of the operation, describes how the work of selecting and processing the ingredients for Bouquet’s unique tea blends is deeply personal to her. “I felt this draw to create a tea the way you would if you were making it for a good friend,” she says. “It’s a very special process to me that requires a lot of effort and care.”
That process starts with procuring herbs, tea leaves and other plant matter, some of it from the couple’s 2-acre plot and the remainder from growers across Northern California and overseas. The sheer variety of botanicals that Rose works with—wild rose hips, yarrow, goldenrod, yerba santa, sweet lemon grass, sacred basil, chrysanthemum, shiso leaves, turmeric root—is a testament to the complexity of creating a blend that both delights and surprises adventurous tea drinkers.
Rose and her husband developed a proprietary method for drying the ingredients so that the ideal levels of aroma and flavor are retained, ensuring a tea that’s flavorful and distinct. She hand garbles the dried matter, often keeping identifiable parts of plants—a flower blossom, for example—intact as a reminder to the tea drinker of the beverage’s deep connection to nature. “It’s a dynamic, labor-intensive operation that’s very special to me,” she says.
Rose’s own nature-inspired artwork graces the Bouquet labels, a decision that runs deeper than simply promoting a pretty brand. “Having my art on the label is, for me, about being able to connect to a feeling, not just a product,” she explains. “There’s a lot of poetry and art that goes into my teamaking, and the way the teas are packaged is a reflection of that.”