Tea collection Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew

Tea Biz Podcast | Episode 14

Tea news for the week ending April 23 | Earth Day Takes on New Urgency | Restaurants are Rebounding | World Tea Expo Co-locates with The Nightclub & Bar Show | Bubble Tea Boba is Languishing at Sea | PLUS — Rediscovering 174 Year Old Tea and India's Earth-Friendly Factory

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Hear the Headlines for the Week of April 23

Hear the Headlines

| Earth Day Takes on New Urgency
| Restaurants are Rebounding
| World Tea Expo Co-locates with The Nightclub & Bar Show in Las Vegas
| Bubble Tea Boba is Languishing at Sea

Listen to this week’s below, read the India Price Watch summary or subscribe to the in-depth Tea Price Report featuring a Q|A with ITA Secretary Sujit Patra. Click to read the China Tea Price Watch.

This week’s India Tea Price Watch


This week Tea Biz travels to the famed Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew to explore a prized collection of 174-year-old tea recently examined and catalogued for its organoleptic properties

…and we visit Paris to learn how the Agency for the Promotion of Agricultural Product (AVPA) elevates the world’s tea origins.

Horticulturalist Robert Fortune completed five expeditions to China. The paintings above, three of 24 in a series showing the processing of tea circa 1853 are in the Royal Botanic Gardens collection at Kew. Collection No. 33725. Photo courtesy Kew.

Rediscovering 174 Year Old Tea

By Dan Bolton

In 2019, the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew began analyzing the provenance of more than 300 tea specimens, mainly Chinese and Indian grown teas dating to the 1850s. Ethnobotanist Aurora Prehn began by examining labels. She then proceeded to record non-textual evidence experienced through sight, touch, and smell. She shares her findings and offers some interesting insights into the work of Horticulturalist Robert Fortune whose specimens are included in the collection. Listen as we learn about tea from 1853. Learn more…

Ethnobotanist Aurora Prehn talks about tea from 1853.
Presenting Tea Award
Philippe Juglar, right, presents AVPA award to Chaminda Jayawardana, MD, Lumbini Tea Factory, Sri Lanka

How AVPA Elevates Origins

By Dan Bolton

The Paris-based AVPA (Agency for the Promotion of Agricultural Products) is allied with tea producers globally. Recognition, professional education programs, and competitions build self-esteem and economic recognition that directs a larger share of the value chain to the country of origin.

“This is why we cling to local transformation of agricultural products so that producers benefit from the pursuit of excellence,” says AVPA President Philippe Juglar. Juglar explains how AVPA competitions that exclude international judges in favor of local experts, reveal that what the gastronomic world thinks and what the professional tea world thinks are quality tea leads to some “very interesting differences.”

Learn more…

AVPA President Philippe Juglar on how competitions build self-esteem and economic success that directs a larger share of the value chain to the country of origin.
India’s first carbon-neutral tea estate is constructing the country’s most sustainable tea factory.

Tea News you Need to Know

Earth Day Takes on New Urgency

Teacraft’s Nigel Melican predicts that before the year 2050 the tea industry will be struggling to maintain volume on less land and with less labor and with far higher input costs for scarce resources. Progress is slow but there are initiatives underway to address climate change worthy of celebration on Earth Day. In Assam, India the Jalinga Tea Estate is building a zero-emission factory capable of processing millions of kilos tons annually – a first in that country. The estate is partnering with Atmosfair, a German non-profit committed to reducing CO₂ emissions by promoting, developing, and financing renewable energy projects in more than 15 countries. In the US Bigelow Tea, which produces two billion teabags annually, relies on solar and renewable energy sources for 100% of its energy requirements, is certified as a zero waste landfill company and owns electric vehicles. Climate volatility resulting in floods, droughts, hail damage, increased pests and reduced yields is apparent in China, India, and East Africa, according to Melican. “Sustainability is the goal,” he says, “but I fear sustainability may be severely challenged by upcoming events.”

Biz Insight – US President Joe Biden challenged the United States to cut greenhouse gas emissions by half before 2030, reversing controversial policies of the previous administration. America will resume its role as a global leader in halting potentially catastrophic climate change Biden told  member nations at a virtual climate summit this week. “The signs are unmistakable, the science is undeniable, and the cost of inaction keeps mounting,” said Biden, adding that “The countries that take decisive actions now will be the ones that reap the clean energy benefits of the boom that’s coming.”

India’s Earth-Friendly Tea Factory

By Roopak Goswami

Contractors at the Jalinga Tea Estate in South Assam, India’s largest organic tea grower, will complete India’s first zero-emission tea factory in July.  The factory is jointly financed through the Jalinga Climate Tea Research Foundation (JCTRF), a partnership between Jalinga Tea Estate and Atmosfair, a German non-profit committed to reducing CO₂ emissions by promoting, developing, and financing renewable energy projects in more than 15 countries. Learn more…

Restaurants are Rebounding

The US economy is rebounding with 90% of restaurants open nationally. Revenue at fast-food outlets has returned to pre-pandemic totals. Food delivery and third-party ordering are growing and here to stay but waitstaff may be wearing COVID masks for a very long time, according to Jack Li, principle at Datassential market research.

A year after lockdowns began, the resilience of the restaurant sector is apparent as approximately 90% remain open. Permanent closures as of April 2021 are 10.7% nationally with 2% temporarily closed. Buffets were hardest hit with 24% closures followed 16.5% for soup and salad outlets. Eleven percent of fine dining restaurants were either permanently or temporarily closed as of April 2021. Pizza, salad, chicken, Mexican and sports bar chains added units during the past year, every other format contracted with full-service American restaurant chains down 7.3%.

The closure rate is now evenly distributed across the country as both urban and rural areas contend with the virus. Initially city centers were hardest hit and that remains true with 14.3% of urban locations closed. Metro areas Miami, Portland, Ore., New York, San Francisco and Washington, D.C. report the most permanent closures. Combined these markets are home to 120,144 restaurants of which about 12.5% are permanently closed. Rural and suburban restaurants fared better with closure rates of 11.2% and 11.6% respectively in ZIP Codes with at least 100 restaurants.

Biz Insight – The greatest disparity in closures is at the local level. Closures rose to and remain at 48% in San Francisco’s embarcadero and 45% in the financial district. Forty-two percent of the restaurants in the Chicago Loop closed along with 40% in Minneapolis and South Boston. New York City closures totaled 35% in Manhattan and Grammercy-Flatiron. In contrast, 95% of the restaurants in cities including Mesquite, Tex. And Williamsport, Penn., Findlay, Ohio, and Virginia Beach remained open all year.

US restaurant closures. Source: Datassential Firefly.

World Tea Expo Co-locates with The Nightclub & Bar Show

The World Tea Expo + Conference will return to Las Vegas June 28-30, co-locating with the Nightclub & Bar Show. Both events are owned by Questex and managed by the company’s Denver-based hospitality division. The division hosted two World Tea virtual events after it was forced to cancel the tradeshow last spring.

Co-locating the events offers “new opportunities for business growth and evolution, in addition to expanding the audience reach, and encouraging innovation and new business partnerships, according to Tim McLucas, vice-president, Bar & Restaurant. In recent years, the World Tea Expo, which was founded in 2003, attracted 3,500 attendees, down from a peak of 5,500. The Nightclub & Bar Convention and Trade Show, now in its 36th year, features 60 educational sessions and six in-depth workshops. The 2021 event is expected to draw 40,000 attendees.

Early registration fees are $99.

Bubble Tea Boba is Languishing at Sea

A bubble tea catastrophe is brewing at sea. The black tapioca pearls, known as boba, that are essential to the experience are in short supply pitting consumers against foodservice outlets. Due to lockdowns many bubble tea drinkers were forced to make their favorite treat at home, ordering the ingredients in bulk online.

Sweet syrup, milk and tea are readily available but packages of Buddha Bubbles Boba, and Wu Fu Yuan boba to cook at home ship from Asia. The favored port of call is Los Angeles where an average of 30 ships a day are anchored and idling, waiting to unload. As shops reopen, managers ordering direct from Asian suppliers find consumer shipment clogging the supply chain. Along the East Coast arrivals were delayed by the obstruction of the Suez Canal. Further complicating supply is a drought in Taiwan that led to government orders curtailing water use by boba manufacturers, writes Smithsonian Magazine. Taiwan is the hub of boba production globally. Tea Zone, one of the largest US suppliers, and Bubble Tea Canada, report shortages of the most popular boba balls due in part to over-orders and hoarding.

A return to sufficient stock and normal delivery times is not expected before summer.

Black Tapioca Pearls

Wikipedia: Bubble Tea

The oldest known bubble tea drink consisted of a mixture of hot Taiwanese black tea, small tapioca pearls, condensed milk, and syrup or honey. Now, bubble tea is most commonly served cold. The tapioca pearls that make bubble tea so unique were originally made from the starch of the cassava, a tropical shrub known for its starchy roots which was introduced to Taiwan from South America during Japanese colonial rule. Larger pearls (Chinese: /hēi zhēn zhū) quickly replaced these.

Biz Insight – The global market for boba tea is predicted to increase by $963 million by 2023, according to market research firm Technavio. The annual growth rate is accelerating at 7% with Asia dominate but Europe and the Middle East experiencing 38% growth. New outlets are expanding availability and that’s fueling demand. Kung Fu Tea, the largest US boba chain, currently operates 250 locations and expects to open 70 more in 2021.

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Tea Biz News and Insight – December 2, 2022 Tea Biz

HEAR THE HEADLINES – Black Friday Lives Up to its Name | US shoppers set in-store and online sales records | UNESCO Inscribes Two Tea Traditions on the List of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity | Australian Study Shows Elderly Women Benefit from Tea Flavonoids| NEWSMAKER – Andrew McNeill, Business Development Director Seven Cups Fine Chinese Tea| GUEST – TeaBookClub Founder Kyle Whittington| FEATURE INTRO – Tea Biz travels to Tucson, Arizona, for the grand opening of a 2200 sq. ft. combination tea shop, tearoom, warehouse, and online fulfillment center. Andrew McNeill, Business Development Director at Seven Cups Fine Chinese Tea, says that stay-at-home tea drinkers experimenting with specialty teas are eager to share the experience of tea discovery face-to-face.Tearooms Rekindle Cultural Experience Face-to-Face – Seven Cups Fine Chinese Tea is typical of well-established shops that survived the pandemic. The direct-trade retailer is 20 years old, located in a second-tier city, and generates revenue online and in-store from packaged sales, tea service, and wholesale supply to coffee shops, cafes, hotels, and restaurants.Packaged tea has fared well since 2019. A spike in sales jammed tea cupboards with direct-from-origin and exotic teas purchased online. The growing consumer preference for better-tasting tea favors retailers with quality selections, including herbal infusions. Retailers are remodeling to promote in-shop sampling as it encourages social interaction and repeat business among enthusiasts eager to experiment and learn from experts.Seven Cups founder Austin Hodge says, "When you enter a traditional teahouse, in China or Tucson, you step into a cultural experience that separates you from your daily problems. It’s a teahouse tradition for tea drinkers to be treated with respect and dignity, whatever their outside problems might be.”REVIEW: Tea & Empire, James Taylor in Victorian CeylonAngela McCarthy & T.M. DevineThis fascinating book illuminates the all-too-often overlooked tea region of Ceylon, present-day Sri Lanka. The authors draw on the letters of James Taylor, pioneer and founding father of the Ceylon tea industry, to explore the life of a Scottish migrant who, through experimentation and determination, forged a new industry out of the ruins of the coffee blight. This uniquely complete collection of correspondence reveals this pivotal time in tea history through the eyes, thoughts, and actions of a key player. – Kyle Whittington
  1. Tea Biz News and Insight – December 2, 2022
  2. Tea Biz News and Insight – November 25, 2022
  3. Tea Biz News and Insight – November 18, 2022
  4. Tea Biz News and Insight – November 11, 2022
  5. Tea Biz News and Insight – November 4, 2022


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