Sweet and Savory Baker's Tea at the James Beard House

Yesterday I had the pleasure of attending a Sweet and Savory Tea at the James Beard House. The food for the event was provided by Flour Bakery and the tea was supplied by Le Palais des Thés. The place settings were simple and elegant. Everything was served buffet style but the wait staff was attentive and quick to refill my tea and sparkling water. The spread was quite large somewhat overwhelming. I wanted to eat it all but knew that I wouldn't be able to so I picked and chose what I thought that I might enjoy.

For most of the tea, I drank an excellent Genmaicha and finished with their brisk Brunch Tea. My choice of wine was the 2011 Gramona Gessami. It is a very nice white wine that I had tasted previously at work. Everything I ate was delicious and I had a hard time singling out favorites. The quiche and miniature cinnamon creme brioche were among them. There is nothing I love more than sharing tea and good conversation. Events like this are part of why I love what I do. It was especially exciting to speak with Aurelie of Le Palais des Thés about the shops they will be opening in New York.

The end of the meal included a question and answer session with Joann Chang, Nicole Rhodes and the rest of the Flour Bakery team. Being a recreational baker, it was great to get insights from some of the best in the business. Overall it was a great evening and I left in a bit of a food coma. The James Beard House does a Valentine's Tea in February and I think I may just need to drag my boyfriend. If it's anything like this decadent tea, we will have an amazing time.

World Tea East 2012

Last week I made the trek to Philadelphia for World Tea East. This show wasn't quite as successful for me as it was last year but I did find a handful of really great companies. Next year I'm going to focus more on the education conference as I was unable to attend any of that this time around. I noticed a big increase in the number of tea companies based in Africa. Many of them focused on improving the lives of the tea growers which is always great to hear.

One thing that was a little disconcerting was that many vendors had tea bags but did not understand that loose leaf is something people want or are interested in. When I inquired about loose leaf, several people told me that they don't offer it but their tea bags taste the same. I know better than that but imagine if I had been a brand new retailer who doesn't know the ropes yet. The spread of misinformation is not my cup of tea.

One of the things that I enjoy about this event is that it isn't crowded. I was able to meander the aisles freely without bumping into people or waiting on long lines. I was also able to have some really great conversations with some of the vendors.

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One of the highlights for me was the Dragon Tea Ceremony performed by Haiyan Grzelak of Lotus Leaf Tea. Her enthusiasm for life and tea radiated off of the stage. The audience was first treated to a musical performance on the Guzheng, an ancient Chinese instrument. Haiyan then performed a gongfu ceremony using aroma cups. She explained every step along the way and thoughtfully included both the Chinese and English descriptions.

Vintage Tea Works was the hit of the show for many people that I spoke to. Their blends are inspired by wine and very well crafted. The owner of the company was knowledgeable about both wine and tea and I was very impressed.

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I have a major sweet tooth and I am a sucker for good ice cream so I was super excited to see Tea-rrific! Ice Cream. Their flavors were well done. I loved that they respected the tea while making varieties that were different from others that have been available in the marketplace. We also had a funny coincidence because the owner of the company used to live in the town in New Jersey where I am from.

My favorite tea of the whole show was the ancient moonlight white tea from Wild Tea Qi. I have never had anything quite like it. It was aromatic and had an incredibly complex floral taste. It made me wish that I hadn't had any other tea that day as my palate was a bit overwhelmed. I've seen this company at a number of shows and have been very impressed with their knowledge of tea and the tea making process. They know the names of all of their farmers, which is something that you don't often see.

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A trip to Philadelphia wouldn't be complete without a cheesesteak. I took a break from tea to scarf one down at Carmine's Famous Italian Hoagies in the Reading Terminal Market. This place is foodie heaven and I had a hard time choosing where and what to eat.

Before heading home, I took a rainy wander through Chinatown in hopes of finding some tea. Unfortunately, I did not find anything that couldn't be found close to home but I still enjoyed checking out all of the stores.

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New York Coffee and Tea Festival 2012

This past Sunday I was very excited to once again attend the Coffee & Tea Festival NYC. The day started with tweetup that turned into a tea party for three. We shared great conversation and delicious matcha cake. Next up was the informative lecture From Garden to Cup: Tea 101 presented by Yoon Hee Kim. After that, it was time to wander the aisles of vendor booths. There were lots of great teas to try. Every year I promise myself that I'm not going to buy anything and yet again, I caved in and indulged in a few teas that I thought were unique.

It was quite crowded so I had a hard time taking pictures but I've included a few in this post. I noticed a heavy lean towards promoting the health benefits of tea, especially in terms of antioxidant levels. It's all a bunch of hooey if you ask me but that is what sells right now.The highlight of the day was having the opportunity for a semi-private class on deconstructing the Korean tea ceremony with Yoon Hee Kim. I learned a lot and tried some amazing teas, included red ginseng matcha (wow!) and Amber Gold oolong.

If you are able to get to NYC, this annual event is a must-see. I think that next year they will need to move to a larger venue, especially considering that tickets for this year sold out. There will definitely be lots of reviews to come of the goodies that I found. If you click on the pictures it should open up a larger version. The organizers have just announced that they will be holding another festival in Atlantic City on November 3rd and 4th. Being a New Jersey native, I am super excited for all of my tea friends to come visit the garden state.

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Our tweetup tea party setup

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Coffee and tea together? Sac le bleu!

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Tea-infused chocolate makes me happy

Capital Tea's very festive booth

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Tavalon's booth is always crowded

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Lots of folks seemed interested in the teas that Tea Classics and Hancha Teas had to offer

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Runa was repping the guayusa

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Yoon Hee Kim making red ginseng matcha

I have a terrible habit of closing my eyes in every picture taken of me

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Let's try that again, eyes not closed this time :)

New York Coffee and Tea Festival

It's almost time for the New York Coffee and Tea Festival. This is one of my favorite tea events of the year and is definitely a must see. I'm especially excited for the Korean powdered green tea ceremony. Check out the press release below for more information on all of the festivities.

If you plan to attend (and I highly recommend that you do), there is a group of tea Twitter folks trying to put together a tweetup. It will be at 10:00am on Sunday, February 26th. We will need to put your name on the guest list so don't forget to RSVP! You can do that on the 

Facebook event

 or by shooting an email to nicole@teaformeplease.com. One of my favorite things about tea events is getting to meet the people that I talk to all of the time on Twitter. I hope to see you there!

UNITED STATES BARISTA CHAMPIONSHIP COMES TO NYC

Coffee And Tea Festival Hosts 2012 Competition

Starfish Junction Productions, producer of the Coffee and Tea Festival NYC, recently confirmed that the upcoming 7th annual Coffee And Tea Festival being held in New York City on February 25 & 26, 2012 will host the 2012 United States Barista Championship (USBC), Northeast Competition. The Championship is sponsored in part by the Specialty Coffee Association of America (SCAA) and the Barista Guild of America. The Coffee and Tea Festival will be held at 7West, 7 West 34th Street, New York, NY 10001. The event is open to the public and the trade. Tickets and information is available at the event website: www.CoffeeAndTeaFestival.com.

The USBC is a regional and national competition designed to highlight the craft of the barista and espresso-based beverage production. The annual competition cycle consists of 6 regional events that lead up to the final USBC. The winners of each competition will have proven their professionalism, passion and skill through various criteria as outlined in the USBC rules and regulations. In a 15 minute presentation, competitors will prepare and serve three courses of espresso based beverages to a panel of judges who will score them on technique—the top six advance to the national competition. SCAA director of community and events, Marcus Boni, explains that the focus of the event will be much more than just the competition, it will also be “a gathering of like minded coffee enthusiasts focused on a common message of respect for the product they serve, the people who help produce it and the consumer who purchases it."

As seen on the Food Network’s hit show Unwrapped and selected as one of the 10 Best New York Events April 2009, by www.10best.com, “the Coffee And Tea Festival is a celebration of everything related to coffee and tea,” said event producer Lynda Calimano. “We’re especially delighted this year that our event was selected to host the United States Barista Championship’s Northeast competition. Attendees are in for a real treat,” she added.

The 7th Annual Coffee and Tea Festival also welcomes the cast of the upcoming Broadway show, Coffee: The Musical. With its goal set firmly on landing on Broadway in the fall of 2012, select cast members of the upcoming musical will join in the day’s festivities, including scheduled performances the lead female vocalist of the Trans-Siberian Orchestra, Jodi Katz.

The Coffee And Tea Festival has also partnered with the Specialty Tea Institute to offer the STI Certification courses for Level 1, Level 2, and Level 3 Cupping on Friday, February 24th and Saturday, February 25th. Advance registration and material review is required for those interested in taking the STI certification courses.

Tickets are $20 each and include sampling from the international lineup of coffee and tea exhibitors as well as attendance at the classes/seminars/demos. Tickets for the event can be purchased at the festival website: www.CoffeeAndTeaFestival.com. Goodie bags will be distributed to the first 1500 attendees each day.

World Tea East 2011

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This past weekend I had the pleasure of attending World Tea East in Philadelphia. Since Philly is so close to home I opted to travel by bus and to just go for the day on Saturday. I have to admit that when I first arrived I was a little disappointed to see how small the expo was. In hindsight, that was part of what made it so great. Instead of running from booth to booth in a harried crowd, there was time to have meaningful conversations with some wonderful people.

Just outside of the exhibit hall, Artist Michele Brody set up her Reflections In Tea art project. It features a tea house made out of copper pipe with walls made out of paper t-sacs. Show attendees were asked to write hopes or prayers for those affected by the recent tsunami in Japan and donations were also collected for that same purpose. It was lovely to take a timeout to sit in the tea house and enjoy a cup of tea.

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I wandered the aisles a bit and then my next stop was the oolong tasting at Teas Etc.’s booth. I sampled some really great teas, including a nice aged dong ding. They were also kind enough to let me sample a sixty-year-old puerh that was AMAZING. I love meeting tea people that are enthusiastic about what they do and the crew there definitely fit the bill.

The rest of the expo was a blur of sampling teas and talking shop. Many of the companies were very generous with samples and there will definitely be lots of reviews coming soon. I promised myself that I wouldn’t buy any tea since I already have way too much (if that is at all possible). I did buy a cute tea wallet from Thistledown Cozies and the latest issue of Art of Tea.

As I heard a lot of people say during the expo, tea people are some the nicest most laid back people you will ever meet. After the expo was over, I got together with several friends from twitter at Tbar . I had a rather yummy honeybee latte. It was a great pick me up after all of the walking that I did. After that, it was time for the long bus trip home. Even though I was exhausted and a bit over-caffeinated, I’m really glad that I made the trek.

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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.

The 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.

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Reflections 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.

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World 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.

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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, visit

www.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, and

World Tea News

(www.WorldTeaNews.com), the premier news portal for the tea industry. Visit www.WorldTeaMedia.com

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Note to Editors:

A press pass may be requested. Contact Aaron Kiel, akiel@akprgroup.com

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