Sunday, August 28, 2011

The Real 'Tea Party' Brings Its Platform to Philly, Sept. 9-10, for World Tea East

In September the first World Tea Expo East will be held in Philadelphia. I am super excited to be attending. I’ll be live tweeting and blogging about everything I see there so be sure to stay tuned. Check out this press release for more information.

World Tea Expo Organizers Serve Up More of Their Specialty Tea Agenda with the Launch of World Tea East, Featuring Best New Products, Tea Tastings and Educational and Networking Opportunities


LAS VEGAS, Nev. (Aug. 22, 2011) --- The producers of the renowned World Tea Expo, the real "tea party," are bringing their platform --- the best the specialty tea industry has to offer --- to Philadelphia for World Tea East, Sept. 9 - 10 at the Pennsylvania Convention Center. This new event features 100 innovative manufacturers and suppliers, best new tea products, expert-led educational sessions, focused tea tastings, pairing workshops and other special events for tea professionals, food and beverage manufacturers and decision makers in related industries.
World Tea East tea in handThe expo also presents the unique "Reflections in Tea" interactive art exhibit, which will benefit victims of the March 11 earthquake and tsunami in Japan, a major tea-growing and tea-consuming region. In addition, World Tea East debuts the Cha Jing Lifetime Achievement Award, which will be presented to distinguished tea leader John Harney, founder of Harney & Sons Fine Teas, for his significant contributions to the industry.

Kim Jage, executive vice president of World Tea Media, organizer of the event, said, "World Tea East is not only about specialty tea and the latest trends, it's about providing professionals the tools needed to drive business and increase sales in tea and related products. There are untapped opportunities for retailers, tea and coffeehouse owners, hoteliers, restaurants, spas, grocers and innkeepers, to profit from this growing category. Attending East and the educational conference arms professionals with the business development knowledge they need to succeed with tea."
According to Jage, the objective of the exposition is to support and fuel the expanding demand for specialty tea and related products in the Northeast, mid-Atlantic and Southeast United States, and to provide solid tea education for the category's ever-growing popularity.


Reflections in TeaReflections in Tea
One noteworthy happening at World Tea East is an interactive art exhibit, called "Reflections in Tea." Groundbreaking artist Michele Brody, in partnership with World Tea East, offer this one-of-a-kind, hands-on art exhibit, which will provide both hope and financial support to the tea-growing country of Japan. The art exhibit includes the temporary installation of a tea house constructed out of copper pipes with walls of tea-stained tea sacs. Delegates of World Tea East have the opportunity to write a message of hope or prayer on the tea sacs, as a way to offer encouragement to the families and individuals who suffered during the disasters in Japan. Attendees can make a voluntary contribution for each stained tea bag that they transcribe, and proceeds will be donated to the Japanese Red Cross. At the conclusion of the show, the tea bags will be transformed into a "Wishing Quilt," which will be sent as a gift to the residents of the Fukushima Prefecture.

Tea - World Tea EastWorld Tea East Highlights
World Tea East also provides professionals with numerous opportunities to discover new tea products, optimize merchandise, gain product knowledge and network with peers in an intimate setting. The conference is expected to bring in a high-level audience of buyers and decision makers.

Additional highlights include:
---New and leading-edge exhibitors of tea and related products - The exposition is set to deliver tea favorites like International Tea Importers, Teas Etc., Sungarden Teas and Rishi Tea, along with newcomers, including Best International Tea, British Delights, Custom Co-Pack, Revolution Tea, SerendipiTea, Teazzers, Tiesta Tea, Tracy Stern SalonTea and Woodford Wicks.
---Best new products - World Tea East also features the latest tea products, such as: the finum Traveler ZITA, Riensch & Held's newest and most impressive tea ware for on-the-go; and AIYA America's Matcha Zen Café Blend in single-serving packets for delicious Matcha smoothies and lattes at home, among many other exciting teas and wares.
---Expert-led educational sessions - Presentations include: Top Tea Retail Trends; How to Conduct a Successful Tea Tasting; Tea 201: Finding Profitability; Food Service Market Trends; Building Tea Community the Easy Way; Fair Trade Certification Alternatives for Tea & Herbs; Unusual Herbal Teas; Using Protocol and Etiquette to Increase Sales & Traffic; and the History of Tea in America, among other topics.
---Focused tea tastings - World Tea East tea-tasting sessions include type-specific teas, including the newest in Black, Unusual Herbal Teas, Blended/Flavored Teas, Oolongs, Puers and African Teas.
---Workshops - Unique workshops include "There's a Flower in My Soup: All About Edible Flowers" and "Tea and Cocktails - Flavor Fusion."
---World Origin Tasting Tour - This event stops at six different countries of origin, where attendees explore the country's tea culture, look at unique manufacturing processes and taste six to eight teas that are authentic to each origin, providing delegates a solid understanding of the flavors and profiles of each.
---North American Tea Championship Winners' Tasting Circle - This experience offers attendees the opportunity to sample winning teas, meet the suppliers and judge for themselves which teas are the best in each category.
John Harney
John Harney
Cha Jing Lifetime Achievement Award
World Tea Media is also planning to introduce its Cha Jing Lifetime Achievement Award at World Tea East. The Award recognizes and celebrates individuals who have made considerable contributions to the growth, innovation and education of the specialty tea industry throughout their lifetime. This year, John Harney, founder, Harney & Sons Fine Teas, is the recipient of the award. Widely respected by his peers and a role model for many, Harney has made a significant impact on the specialty tea industry through innovation, mentoring and service. Attendees may congratulate Harney, who will be honored during World Tea East's Networking Reception, Friday, Sept. 9, from 5:30 - 7:30 p.m. in the Philadelphia Marriott Ballroom.
For more information on attending, exhibiting or sponsoring, visitwww.WorldTeaEast.com or call the expo's customer service line at 702-253-1893.


About World Tea Media
World Tea Media is an integrated media company, dedicated to providing business solutions to the global tea industry. Events include the annual World Tea Expo (www.WorldTeaExpo.com) in Las Vegas, Nev., and World Tea East (www.WorldTeaEast.com), Sept. 9 -10, 2011, in Philadelphia, Penn. World Tea Media also produces the North American Tea Championship (www.TeaChampionship.com), which evaluates the top teas in North America, andWorld Tea News (www.WorldTeaNews.com), the premier news portal for the tea industry. Visit www.WorldTeaMedia.com.

Note to Editors: A press pass may be requested. Contact Aaron Kiel,akiel@akprgroup.com.

Friday, August 26, 2011

New Tastes in Green Tea by Mutsuko Tokunaga

New Tastes in Green Tea: A Novel Flavor for Familiar Drinks, Dishes, and DessertsThe first thing that I noticed about this book was the incredible photographs. The second was the recipes, which all sound absolutely delicious. I have a habit of throwing matcha into just about everything so it was good to get some inspiration. This book was a fairly quick read but covered  a lot of ground. The author touches on the history of tea in general, how it is grown and processed as well as how to prepare a perfect cup. She also gives in depth information on the many different types of green tea (mostly the Japanese varieties).

Reading this book made me want to immediately preheat the oven and whip out the blender. I will definitely be trying several of the recipes featured soon. It is rare to find a book focused on a  single type of tea but it works very well here. It would be interesting if someone did a similar series on each type of tea. This book is great for the green tea obsessed but would also be a great read for the general tea lover. I ordered my copy from Den's Tea but you can also find it on Amazon and other book sellers.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Runa Tea Guayusa Spice

Country of Origin: Equador
Leaf Appearance: small, sage green leaves mixed with pale stalks of lemongrass and brown pieces of cinnamon bark
Ingredients: organic guayusa, organic lemongrass, organic cinnamon
Steep time: 5 minutes
Water Temperature: 212 degrees
Preparation Method: porcelain mug
Liquor: deep gold

The aroma of this herbal teasan was incredibly spicy, almost reminding me of a strong chai. I’m not big on spicy teas so thankfully the taste was not nearly as powerful as I thought it would be. Cinnamon is so rich and earthy that it almost completely dominated the other ingredients. The guayusa was detectable only as a bit of sweetness at the end of each sip. I couldn’t taste the lemongrass at all. Guayusa can be very neutral when mixed with other ingredients which makes it a great base tea. If you love cinnamon you will absolutely love this tea.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Adagio Teas Citrus Green (Pyramid Bag)

Photo: Adagio Teas
Country of Origin: China
Leaf Appearance: dark green and small in size, some bags had orange peels.
Ingredients: green tea, orange peels, natural lemon flavor, natural orange flavor
Steep time: 3 minutes
Water Temperature: 180 degrees
Preparation Method: porcelain mug
Liquor: pale gold

This tea was packaged in a silky pyramid tea bag and is part of the Sweet Medley Gourmet Tea Collection. The citrus flavor was very well done, strong but not overpowering. The green tea base was sweet and vegetal. There was very little astringency but it was still crisp and refreshing. Not all of the tea bags had slices of orange but the flavor was not affected. It was delicious hot but it would make an excellent iced tea as well. I would definitely recommend this tea.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

How to Get Started with Tea – Buying Your Tea

File:Loose leaf darjeeling tea twinings.jpgPurchasing tea can be truly daunting once you realize that there is more out there than what you find next to the coffee in the grocery store. When you are first starting out, you live and you learn. For every amazing tea you find there will be lots of mediocre and probably a few really bad ones thrown in for good measure. Here are some things I’ve learned that make it a little easier.

Tea bags are not necessarily a no-no. We all need tea on the go sometimes. Look for bags that are the whole leaf silky pyramid style. These allow the leaves to fully expand while still giving you the convenience that you are looking for. I really like Adagio’s and Mighty Leaf’s offering in this department.

Every type of tea has a different appearance. It’s best to do your homework ahead of time on what the leaves should look and smell like. When buying in a store, I tend to prefer prepackaged tea over the random leaves in a jar variety. My local health food store has tons of jars of tea but I’ve never tried it because frankly I’m a bit scared. If the store has the option, a great indicator of taste in a tea is its aroma. With a few exceptions, if you think a tea smells delicious then it probably is.

Sourcing good quality tea can be tough, depending on where you live. I’m lucky enough to love close to New York City so I can find a shop that sells good quality tea pretty easily. SoHo alone is a goldmine these days. For those of you without that blessing, Wegman’s supermarket actually has an unbelievable tea selection. They have almost any kind you could think of and often have loose bulk tea for sale. Whole Foods tends to mostly stock Rishi, which is pretty decent stuff and not terribly expensive. Then there are your tourist trap tea shops (ala Teavana). Don’t get me wrong, they have some very good teas. They’ll also try to coerce you into buying everything else in the store. Buyer beware is always a good rule of thumb.

Buying online can be just as hazardous. There are more websites out there selling tea than you can shake a stick at. In general I tend to avoid websites that focus more on health claims than on the tea. I also flat out refuse to buy any tea that does not have the ingredients listed. I’ve had a lot of luck with tea from Seven Cups and Chicago Tea Garden. If you are looking specifically for green tea, especially Japanese, then Den’s is definitely the place to go.

There is an incredibly community of tea drinkers online. Use them to your advantage! Send a tweet asking for advice and recommendations. Check out ratings on sites like Steepster and Teaviews. If you google almost any tea being made today, you are likely to find a blog post about it.

I hope that this little series will help someone to start on their journey with tea. It really is an amazing beverage.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

How to Get Started with Tea – Tools of the Trade

Once you are drinking loose leaf tea on a regular basis you will probably want to set yourself up with the proper tools. It is super easy to go overboard (and broke) with the variety of teaware that is readily available on the internet. It took a while for me to learn this but less really is more. When I first started I went through phases of mass accumulation but eventually I realized that I always wound up using the same tried and true pieces.

There are a few simple essentials that everyone needs:
  • tea kettle
  • porcelain or ceramic teapot
  • mesh infuser basket
  • thermometer
  • a favorite teacup (even if it is your trusty coffee mug!)
As you get more serious about tea, you might want to add a few things that are tailored to your favorite types. If you enjoy oolong, you’ll eventually want to get an yixing pot. For green or white tea you’ll want an gaiwan. Once you're really serious I definitely think it is worth investing in a tea maker, especially if you are as busy as I am. In the past I had a Zarafina Tea Maker. It worked very well and certainly served the purpose. I've since given it away because I was lucky enough to win a Breville One-Touch Tea Maker. I have to say that it is absolutely amazing. Whichever way you choose, just make sure that it works for you.

Click here to read part four of this guide, Buying Your Tea

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

How to Get Started with Tea – Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff

No matter what your obsession may be, there will always be a pretentious snob that tells you that you are doing it wrong. With tea it’s very easy to get bogged down in measuring leaves and perfectly calibrating your water ratios. It’s not that these things aren’t important but they can get in the way. Sometimes you have to just wing it, for better or for worse, especially when you are just starting out.

The point is to enjoy your tea, to savor the tranquility that comes from sipping a delicious cuppa. I was lucky enough to have someone teach me that right at the beginning of my journey with tea. Don’t be afraid to use too much leaf or steep it in water that isn’t exactly the right temperature. I think that kind of experimentation is the most valuable tool you’ll have in learning about tea.

Click here to read part three of this guide, Tools of the Trade

Sunday, August 14, 2011

How to Get Started with Tea – Drink Lots of It

I know quite a bit about tea but I am not at all what I would call an expert on the subject. However, I have learned a lot over the years. I’m intending this series of posts to be more of a primer for someone who is just getting the feet wet when it comes to tea.

It is easy for a newcomer to feel overwhelmed with the explosion of the tea industry in recent years. I know that I did when I started tea blogging way back in 2008. The easiest way to get started  is to taste as many different kinds as you can. Do it whether the tea is good, bad or ugly. Either way you will learn from it and grow. Your palate will evolve over time, making you better able to taste the nuances of a really delicate tea. You’ll notice your own tastes and preferences changing too. When I first started drinking tea, I was all about the earl grey and flavored teas. Now I still indulge in the odd flavored selection but there is a definite lean towards the more traditional, unflavored teas. It's hard not to be biased because most people have a firm idea of what they do or don't like but try to keep your mind open. Don't be afraid to try new things!

Click here to read part two of this guide, Don't Sweat the Small Stuff

Friday, August 12, 2011

Tea Beyond Royal Red

Royal Red from Tea Beyond Country of Origin:China
Leaf Appearance: green leaves buddled around an orange-red flower, there was also a burst of loose yellow petals while blooming.
Ingredients: no clearly stated
Steep time: until bloom opens, about 1:30
Water Temperature: 212 degrees
Preparation Method: glass teapot
Liquor: bright gold

This tea was sweet, floral and almost apple-like with a lingering aftertaste. There was very little astringency. As flowering teas go it’s pretty decent as far as the amount of flavor. This tea had two detractors though. The first being that the ingredients were not clearly stated on Tea Beyond’s website. As best as I can tell there is white tea and osmanthus (which they refer to as sweet olive). Beyond that I am at a loss as to what it was I was drinking. The second being that I really don't like lots of teeny tiny petals floating in my tea. That being said, you really can't expect too much from a flowering tea. They are great for when you have guests over but they're just never going to be as good as a high quality loose leaf tea.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Adagio Teas Peppermint (Pyramid Bag)

Photo: Adagio Teas
Country of Origin: Not given
Leaf Appearance: small, sage green
Ingredients: peppermint
Steep time: 5 minutes
Water Temperature: 212 degrees
Preparation Method: porcelain mug
Liquor: deep gold

This tea was packaged in a silky pyramid tea bag and is part of the Sweet Medley Gourmet Tea Collection. It was sweet with a very cooling aftertaste. It wasn't bitter or medicinal at all. Talk about a breath of fresh air! You would be hard pressed to find a stick of gum that would be more refreshing. Peppermint isn’t for everyone but I LOVE it. I always keep a stash of it around to help soothe tummy troubles or sore throats. It also keeps me awake at work without caffeine. I would definitely recommend this tea.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Boston Tea Company Berry Medley

Country of Origin: China
Leaf Appearance: small and very dark, large cranberries and bright safflower petals
Ingredients: Black Tea, raspberries, cranberries, rosehips, safflowers, natural pomegranate and raspberry flavor
Steep time: 4 minutes
Water Temperature: 212 degrees
Preparation Method: Breville One-Touch Tea Maker
Liquor: reddish brown

This tea was very aromatic but the taste was surprisingly mellow. With all those berry ingredients I was expecting a very tart cup. Instead there was just enough astringency. It was earthy with a hint of fruitiness that reminded me very much of jam. The flavor lingered in my palate quite long after each sip. Overall it was very juicy and refreshing with a pleasant mouthfeel. I have some left over leaf and I can’t wait to try it iced. I would definitely recommend this tea.

You can find out more about this tea here.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Tea and Wine

After working in the pet industry for more than five years I’ve made a drastic career change and jumped ship to the wine industry. Life works in mysterious ways. You may find yourself asking, what does this have to do with tea? More than you might think!  Over the last month and a half I’ve realized more and more just how many similarities the two beverages share. I don’t know nearly enough about wine just yet to go into full technical detail but I’ve got the basics down.

For starters wine and tea contain tannins. The same component that gives black teas their astringency also gives red wines their mouth puckering tartness. Both wine and tea can be oxidized and fermented (depending on the type). Terroir has an affect on taste with wine just as it does with tea. The descriptions of flavor profiles are also very similar. The other day I was unpleasantly surprised to try a red wine that tasted like bad puerh (you know, the kind that tastes like a barnyard smells). Having a background in tasting tea has been a big help in tasting wine because a lot of terminology is the same. On the flip side, I have a hard time getting past the alcohol to truly taste the wine. Thankfully that isn’t an issue with tea.

For a viewpoint on this topic from someone who actually knows what he’s talking about, check out Wojchiech at Polish Wine Guide. He’s written two articles so far and has a third one coming soon.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Runa Tea Ginger Citrus Guayusa

Country of Origin: Ecuador
Leaf Appearance: small, irregular and dark green with a sprinkling of orange peel and ginger pieces
Ingredients: Organic RUNA guayusa, organic orange peel, organic ginger
Steep time: 5 minutes
Water Temperature: 212 degrees
Preparation Method: porcelain mug
Liquor: brassy gold

I’m not big on ginger “teas” so I was bit hesitant to try this one. I usually find them overdone and artificial tasting. The ginger and citrus in this herbal blend were natural tasting and played off of each other perfectly. The guayusa provided an earthy and nutty base that stayed in the background. From what I’ve seen so far guayusa lends itself very well to flavored teas for exactly that reason. Overall it was a well balanced cup that wasn’t over the top and had just enough citrusy ginger zing to keep me interested. I would definitely recommend this tea.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Adagio Teas Earl Grey (Pyramid Bag)

Photo: Adagio Teas
Country of Origin: China
Leaf Appearance: small and dark with the odd piece of orange rind
Ingredients: black tea, bergamot oil
Steep time: 5 minutes
Water Temperature: 212 degrees
Preparation Method:
Liquor: dark reddish brown

This tea was packaged in a silky pyramid tea bag and is part of the Sweet Medley Gourmet Tea Collection. This was a plain and simple, straight forward earl grey. The bergamot flavor was there but no overbearing or oily tasting. The black tea was a mellow base with just enough astringency to give my taste buds a wake up call. Of the five tea bags that I had, some of them had orange rind pieces in them and some of them did not. This really didn't seem to have much affect on the taste though. I've taken to drinking this tea first thing in the morning when I get to work. I would definitely recommend this tea.