Need to Know (Nov. 18, 2013)

What tea professionals need to start the week.

Prince Charles concluded his tour of India and Sri Lanka with a visit to the Labookellie Tea Estate where he walked the plantation and sampled a cup of Prince George Blend, specially created in honor of his grandson…The Experimental Food Society Spectacular in London last week featured a “breathable tea room” created by Camellia’s Tea House with specially designed inhalers that concentrated the tea’s aroma… Teavana opened its second Tea Bar, this in Seattle’s University Village. Expect up to 200 more in 2014. A tea auction in Hong Kong this week is expected to yield $1.3 million from the sale of rare teas, teapots and utensils. The prize lots are a 20-kilo box of narcissus oolong tea bearing the Wu-Yi brand that is expected to bring more than $120,000 and a 1950s Pu-erh from the Menghai Tea Factory in Yunnan valued at $65,000… The East African Tea Trade Association estimates that small holders have brought a 60 million kilo surplus to auction in Mombasa so far this year which has depressed prices to a 2008 low…. A heavily armed British SupaCat LRV 400 special forces vehicle that can reach 100 mph off road debuted last week equipped with a 50-caliber machine gun and heavy-duty boiler to make hot water for tea…

  • Synchronized Real-time Tea Blending Bagging Machine
  • Mystery of the Kettle’s Whistle Solved
  • Japanese use LEDs to Cultivate Tea


SEATTLE, Wash. – Synchronizing combinations of precisely weighed ingredients during the bag-making process is a promising development by Epanie, a South Korean manufacturer of an innovative tea bagging machine. Motovotano, a Seattle firm founded by tea industry veteran James J. Mackness, is the first company to use the equipment in North America. The pyramid-style filling and bagging machine blends gourmet tea in real-time.

The pyramid has established itself as the go-to format for high quality blends. But large inclusions such as flower buds that delight the eye are difficult to apportion. Improvements in its design by Epanie over existing pyramid and traditional filter paper sachets allows for larger tea leaves and for those leaves to unfurl and brew properly for superior taste. Bags can be made of nylon, non-woven commercially compostable or certified biodegradable materials.

Learn more: Synchronized Real-time Tea Blending Bagging Machine


Japanese tea growers are experimenting with seedlings raised indoors under red and green LEDs. Plant leaves are harvested for tea foods such as Tempura. The Tokutaro Noda greenhouse strictly regulates the temperature, prevents germs and pests without the use of pesticide. The humidity is kept constant and automatic spraying equipment delivers organic nutrients. The use of lights eliminates seasonality as harvests are timed to the needs of local cafes with several harvests annually. The lights are on 24 hours a day which increases the catechins and phytochemical components, according to Tomitaro Noda, a fifth-generation tea grower who founded the company.

Source: SB Wire


Promising Early-Stage Cancer Prevention

Joshua D. Lambert, PhD, associate professor of food science at Pennsylvania State University at University Park, reviewed human and experimental studies to find that green tea and green tea catechin inhibit tumorigenesis. Although it has not been as well studied as green tea, black tea has also shown cancer preventive effects, according to a report on The polyphenolic constituents in tea, along with the caffeine content, appear to be potential cancer-preventive compounds. Lambert cautions that the number of human studies that have directly examined the effects of green tea on cancer progression is limited but promising at an early stage.

“As might be expected, studies that have examined early-stage disease have been promising, whereas those that have dealt with late-stage disease have largely yielded negative results,” writes Dr. Lambert. “These data indicate that tea and tea compounds likely lack sufficient potency to serve as first-line chemotherapeutic compounds but do have a role to play in both primary prevention and prevention of cancer recurrence.”

Source: Am J Clin Nutr. Published online October 30, 2013. Yuan abstract, Lambert abstract

The Kettle’s Whistle Explained


The journal The Physics of Fluid Dynamics revealed a previously unknown scientific explanation for why the kettle whistles and it’s similar to the whistle you make pursing your lips.

It’s a problem that has puzzled scientists for more than 100 years.

Once steam begins passing through the kettle’s spout it creates small vortices – regions of swirling flow. At sufficient speed the air vibrates at frequencies that produce noise. A team of researchers at the University of Cambridge report that a common tea kettle is a near perfect hole tone system, in which two orifice plates are held a short distance apart in a cylindrical duct.

As steam comes up the kettle’s spout, it meets a hole at the start of the whistle, which is much narrower than the spout itself. This contracts the flow of steam as it enters the whistle and creates a jet of steam passing through it. The steam jet is naturally unstable, like the jet of water from a garden hose that starts to break into droplets after it has traveled a certain distance. As a result, by the time it reaches the end of the whistle, the jet of steam is no longer a pure column, but slightly disturbed.

In an article published by the university titled “How the Kettle Got its Whistle” Ross Henrywood, from the University’s Department of Engineering, and the study’s lead author, explained “the effect we have identified can actually happen in all sorts of situations – anything where the structure containing a flow of air is similar to that of a kettle whistle. Pipes inside a building are one classic example and similar effects are seen inside damaged vehicle exhaust systems. Once we know where the whistle is coming from, and what’s making it happen, we can potentially get rid of it.”

Learn more: The Aeroacoustics of a Steam Kettle

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Editor | Publisher | Podcaster | Consultant | Journalist Dan is the founder of Tea Journey Magazine, the Tea Biz Podcast and Blog, and a contributing editor at STiR coffee and tea. He is the former editor and publisher of Tea Magazine, former editor and publisher of World Tea News, and former editor-in-chief at Specialty Coffee Retailer, then headquartered in San Francisco. Dan has traveled the tea lands, speaking on retail beverage trends in Canada and the United States and at conferences in Europe, China, India, Australia, the Middle East, South America, and Africa.