What tea professionals need to start the week of June 9, 2014 —
We should all be drinking iced tea this week in celebration of National Iced Tea Month and out of necessity as temperatures climb… Starbucks debuts an iced tea commercial promoting Teavana shaken tea (with a national tea giveaway Tuesday)… Nestea positions for a comeback… the final count is in on India’s 2013 harvest… and coverage of this year’s World Tea Expo in Long Beach, Calif.
Single-origin, fast-chill, iced tea
This time of year dusty Kansans like me will drive to a convenience stop, race to the dispenser and gulp a giant iced tea without asking about price or refill policy. Unlike sweet tea drinkers in the Deep South, Midwesterners prefer to sweeten their tea with a teaspoon of sugar instead of a quarter pound scoop. Lemon optional. It is the blast of cold in the belly and the thirst-quenching astringency they seek.
Tea is a beverage enjoyed by more than one half of America’s population on any given day. According to the Tea Council in 2012, Americans drank more than 3.6 billion gallons of tea – enough to fill the Empire State Building more than 13 times. Since 85% of the tea Americans drink is iced, the U.S. celebrates a love of this healthy beverage every June with National Iced Tea Month.
Lately I’ve noticed that restaurants are making a lot better tasting iced tea. Thirty years ago I shunned the movement to mask the anemic qualities of restaurant tea with raspberry and strawberry and peach flavoring. Instead I’d request a pot of hot tea with two bags and a tall glass filled to the brim with ice. I would patiently brew the tea double-strength and pour it over the ice, diluting it nicely as it chilled. The fresh brew flavor was like home but the tea bag blends were typically stale.
At home I use a full-bodied loose leaf Ceylon or a malty Assam brewed in a Takeya flash-chill pitcher of ice. No sugar needed. Sometimes I drink three quarts a day.
The other day I was dining at a highly-rated Seattle restaurant that uses the fresh-brewed, flash-chill technique and I got to gulping. “Will you bring another,” I asked the waitress… “and another”… “and another.” This was a Sri Lankan Ceylon from Barnes & Watson made like I do at home.
The guys at Wilbur Curtis noticed the trend. When I spoke to them at World Tea Expo they said restaurants are filling the company’s foodservice iced tea dispensers with several pounds of ice and then brewing the tea extra strong. The tea is then released into the ice-filled dispenser to flash chill.
In April I was interviewing Janaki Kuruppu who chairs the Sri Lanka Tea Board. The topic shifted to iced tea and she revealed a strategic effort to promote Ceylon as an iced tea supplier in the foodservice segment. I assured her Americans are ready for a full-bodied, brisk flavored single-origin thirst quencher.
Iced Tea Tuesday
Teavana stores nationwide in the U.S. and Canada will offer one free small serving of brewed Raspberry Limeade Iced Tea to each customer who makes a purchase in a Teavana store or Teavana Fine Teas + Tea Bar. The new Raspberry Limeade Tea, available in Teavana stores today, is Teavana’s unique take on the summer favorite of raspberry limeade.
The company debuted a “Shake it Up” commercial in several markets to promote it summer teas. The ad depicts several baristas agitating colorful flash-chill pitchers of iced tea. Teavana recently released four new iced tea blends including a Blood Orange Sorbet Oolong,
Teavana is also inviting customers to digitally “toast” on National Iced Tea Day, June 10, and throughout June, by posting #IcedTeavanaSweeps photos that show how and where they are raising a glass to summer. For the chance to win a $500 Teavana “Upgrade Your Iced Tea” shopping spree, tea lovers across the U.S. will be encouraged to use the hashtag #IcedTeavanaSweeps and do one of the following*:
- Share a photo on Twitter, or
- Share a photo on Instagram
Nestea Orchestrating a Comeback
Forbes last week published an article on renewed efforts by Nestle Waters to revitalize its Nestea brand. Two years ago the company invested in Sweet Leaf Tea and Tradewinds bottled tea. The Nestea brand was once the king of the cooler until Lipton and Arizona seized the shelf space in most convenience outlets.
Nestea’s Rick Tanner, vp of marketing for Nestle Waters, told Forbes that the worldwide restructuring with Coca-Cola allocated Nestea to his portfolio: “We think Nestea is going to be the big driver. It’s got 95% awareness but little consideration,” he said.
“Arizona really redefined the category about 12 years ago and caught Lipton and Nestea sleeping,” said Tanner.
The company is releasing a new TV commercial updating the familiar “Take the Nestea Plunge” slogan.
“We expect to do a lot in the space of digital engagement around the plunge and work with key partners such as Facebook, Google and a few others to leverage the Nestle global partnerships we have in the digital and social media space,” he said.
World Tea Expo
The Long Beach location was great and World Tea Expo once again demonstrated the collegial affability of global tea. Attendance was 4,600 with tea lovers from 50 countries in the aisles and about 200 exhibitors on the floor.
The program was enriching with returning favorites including Jane Pettigrew, Thomas Shu and James Norwood Pratt, Bruce Richardson, Anupa Mueller, David Walker, Rona Tison and Dan Robertson with lots of new ideas from speakers including Peter Marino, Shabnam Weber, David De Candia, Emeric Harney, Elyse Petersen, Naomi Rosen, Robert Wemischner and James Oliveira.
Download the sessions on tea marketing with David Sprinkle (Packaged Facts), Lynn Dornblaser (Mintel International) and Jonas Feliciano (Euromonitor International) along with the Health Beverage overview by National Marketing Institute’s Steve French.
Cha Jing Lifetime Achievement Award
LONG BEACH, Calif. – Specialty tea import pioneer Devan Shah basked in the warmth of praise and standing applause of his peers at a black-tie ceremony on board the Queen Mary, tearful in gratitude before family and friends.
In accepting the Cha Jing Lifetime Achievement Award at the 2014 World Tea Expo, Shah spoke of his heritage in the tea lands of India and the remarkable opportunity America presented 25 years ago on the founding of International Tea Importers (ITI).
His lifetime commitment to tea education and innovation was detailed by author James Norwood Pratt who cited the creation of the Chado Tea Rooms, the Los Angeles International Tea Festival and that fact that Shah was perhaps America’s most influential champion of chai. “Everyone knows black tea is the most popular tea here and that green tea is second, but few recognize that it is Devan who made chai the third most popular tea in America,” said Pratt.
As emcee George Jage, Founder & Director of The Beverage Group @ F+W Media, Inc., said “Devan helped spearhead America’s tea renaissance.”
Shah has financed books, sponsored seminars and exhibitions, given talks and presentations and hosted countless tea samplings at events that led others to the discovery of fine tea.
“Shah has extended his love of tea to thousands,” said Jage, who presented the crystal trophy.
Against life-size images of his activities projected on the big screen in the stately Queen Mary Salon, Shah humbly thanked the crowd, his daughter and immediate family and the many relatives who traveled from his beloved Nilgiris to attend the banquet.
“Tea, the most romantic of all beverages, has certainly come a long way in the United States,” said Shah. “It has seen steady growth year-over-year for the last 15 years, and I am proud to be a part of that growth, and I am very grateful for this honor.”
The Cha Jing Lifetime Achievement Award (#ChaJingAward) recognizes and celebrates individuals who have made considerable contributions to the growth, innovation and education of the specialty tea industry throughout their lifetime.
Shah received toasts well into the night in the celebration that followed on the observation deck of the historic ship.
World Tea Award Winners
Ten presentations preceded the awarding of this year’s Cha Jing recognition in categories that follow. George Jage and Gail Gastelu, publisher of the The Tea House Times introduced winners following a tally of several thousand online ballots by attendees.
“Collectively, you are all winners,” said Gastelu, “But, tonight we honor and further recognize our peers who have risen to the top to help raise us all a little higher.”
Best Tea Spirit: James Norwood Pratt, tea author and expert, San Francisco, Calif.
Best Tea Educator: Jane Pettigrew, tea author and consultant – United Kingdom
Best Tea Publication: TeaTime Magazine, Birmingham, Ala.
Best Social Media Reach: Elyse Petersen, founder and CEO of Tealet, Honolulu, Hawaii
Best Tea Room Website: The St. James Tearoom, Albuquerque, N.M.
Best Tea Room Menu: Samovar, San Francisco, Calif.
Best Tea Retail Website: Adagio, Clifton, N.J.
Best Tea Blog: World of Tea, Chicago, Ill.
Best Tea Short / Commercial: The Tea Song by Yorkshire Tea, United Kingdom
Best New Products
Innovation – Biotre (Pacific Bag, Inc.)
Tea as an Ingredient – “Ladalu Chakra” (Lumbini Tea Factory Sri Lanka)
Tea Ware – “Deluxe Iced Tea Beverage System” (Takeya USA)
Open Class – “Tea Pee – Prostate Support Tea”(Nuwati Herbals)
India Tea Production Tally
NEW DELHI, India – Final figures for the 2013 harvest reveal an increase of 6.19% to 1.205 billion kilograms, up from the 1.135 billion harvested in 2012.
The India Tea Board reports combined output of Assam and West Bengal and other north Indian states increased 7.56% to 960.96 million kg. The two states grow almost 80 percent of India’s tea. Production in the southern states of Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Karnataka rose to 244.44 million kg last year, up slightly from 241.69 million kg produced in 2012.
Here is the Tea Association of USA’s iced tea recipe:
Drink it by the pitcher. Since tea contains no sodium, fat, carbonation, or sugar, it is virtually calorie free. To top it off, there are decades’ worth of research showing that the many bioactive compounds found in tea, called flavonoids, may contribute to overall health.
- Bring one quart of fresh, cold, filtered water to a full boil in a teapot
- Remove from heat and add 8–10 tea bags per quart of tea you are making
- Steep for three to five minutes and pour over ice cubes or into additional cold water
- To serve, pour into tall glass filled with ice, garnish and sweeten as desired
*Note:This recipe uses 50 percent more tea than is used to make hot tea to allow for dilution by ice.
Whether you prefer black, green, white or oolong tea, you are in good company. Peter Goggi, President of the Tea Council of the USA recommends drinking plenty of tea, saying, “not only are many different types of teas available to suit each taste preference, but the amount of quality research being done on tea continues to support the idea that drinking tea can be a fulfilling, healthy addition to your diet.”
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