• Tea Biz Podcast | Episode 32

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    Hear the Headlines

    | Afghan Tea Market Concerns as Taliban Conquers Kabul
    | Foodservice Recovery Rates Vary Widely by Sector
    | Researchers Confirm Heart Healthy Aspects of Tea

    Seven-minute Tea News Recap

    Tea Price Report
    April 21 – Sale 33

    India Tea Price Watch

    Afghanistan is an importer of green and orthodox black tea from India and in 2020-21, about 760,000 kilos of tea was exported from there. At the moment, the movement of cargo between the two countries stands interrupted. – Aravinda Anantharaman


    This week Tea Biz visits Darjeeling, India on word of the sale of the iconic Jungpana and Goomtee tea estates to Anshuman Kanoria, principal at Balaji Agro International and chairman of the Indian Exporters Association

    … and then to London where Kyle Whittington reviews The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane, a novel by Lisa See.

    Anshuman Kanoria discusses his company’s acquisition of two of Darjeeling’s best-known tea gardens.

    Restoring Darjeeling’s Reputation from the Roots Up

    By Aravinda Anantharaman

    The sale of two iconic Darjeeling tea gardens focused attention on the ongoing challenges facing growers in this fabled tea-growing region. Jungpana and Goomtee were acquired by the Santhosh Kanoria Group, which owns the tea export company Balaji Agro International. The group also owns Tindharia estate in Darjeeling. We spoke to Anshuman Kanoria, Chairman of Balaji Agro and Chairman of the Indian Exporters Association about this acquisition. Read more...

    Listen to the Interview
    Anshuman Kanoria on India’s unrealized potential in tea
    Lisa See has written a “brilliantly layered book” writes Whittington

    The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane

    By Kyle Whittington | TeaBookClub

    New York Times best-selling author Lisa See has written several novels revealing her fondness for tea. The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane, however, uniquely explores the mysterious world of Pu’er. Reviewer Kyle Whittington writes that See’s novel “consists of so many brilliant layers… for the tea reader this is a wonderful story, packed with great tea content that will either develop or ignite an interest in, and a desire to explore the world of Pu’er.” Read the review

    Listen to the review
    Kyle Whittington reviews The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane
    A tea break for Afghan farmworkers. Afghans annually drink 1500 cups of tea per capita. Kahwa (a tea and spice blend) and green tea with mint are favorites. Photo by © Karl Allen Lugmayer | Dreamstime.com

    Afghan Tea Market Concerns as Taliban Conquers Kabul

    By Dan Bolton

    Afghanistan is a major tea-consuming nation and a smuggler’s paradise for tea. The country became a profitable middleman by clever manipulation of border regulations that were only recently reined in after decades of openly flaunting Pakistani Customs enforcement.

    Since tea trades in US dollars, money in Taliban controlled bank accounts is frozen. Bank withdrawals are limited and in-bound remittances from Western Union and MoneyGram have stopped. The East African Tea Trade Association (EATTA) reports bidding at the Mombasa auction on tea bound for Afghanistan slowed as the Taliban occupied Kabul but EATTA explained that Afghanistan gets its Kenyan tea via Pakistan where there have been no disruptions at all, according to The East African. Shipments between India, another major source of tea, and Afghanistan were halted this week.

    Afghanistan’s banks are closed, halting direct deposits for salaried workers. Interbank transfers are subject to sanctions imposed by western powers decades ago to curtail terrorist activity. The Financial Action Task Force, warned member countries they must ensure that “no funds or other assets are made available, directly or indirectly” to the Taliban or face fines and censure by the United Nations and the US along with many of its allies. During the 20 years since the Taliban was last in power, many businesses transitioned from cash and writing checks to digital banking. Prices for basic commodities like bread, oil, and tea have doubled since the government collapsed and the economy is in freefall.

    In 2020 foreign aid from the US and Europe accounted for 43% of the economy. Remittances from Afghans living outside the country were nearly $800 million last year, according to the Wall Street Journal. Given near universal sanctions due to a global blacklisting of the nation’s central bank, the Taliban will find it difficult to borrow or trade essential commodities, making taxes on citizens and local businesses the Taliban’s sole source of funds in a $22 billion economy.

    It is too soon to know how the collapse of the Afghan government and the return of the Taliban will alter the tea market, but smuggling was rampant during the 1996-2001 Taliban regime. In Helmand province, traders said that “if we smuggle 40kg (heroin), we give the Taliban 4kg.”

    Pakistan Customs lists black tea and green tea as two of the five most smuggled commodities. Tea exports to Pakistan surged in 2020, increasing 18.7% in value compared to 2019, making it the world’s highest-valued tea import market at $590 million. Kenya accounted for $497 million of last year’s import spend, growing 27% following a decision by the Indian government to no longer export tea to Pakistan.

    Afghans prefer green tea to black, yet hundreds of thousands of kilos of black tea are landed annually at the Port of Karachi, Pakistan. Until recently Pakistan charged a combined 38% tax and duties on tea making the import cost of tea 32% higher than tea imported into Afghanistan. Afghanistan is a landlocked nation so huge quantities of African tea, mainly from Kenya, are delivered to the Pakistani port tax-free, taxed at a low rate at the Afghan border, and then transported to large warehouses where it is broken into retail packets and smuggled into Pakistan. Smugglers pay a 12%-15% bribe and transportation cost, pocketing the difference.

    Biz Insight – Pakistan’s Competition Commission considers smuggling to be “the biggest threat faced by the domestic tea industry, causing loss of millions of rupees to the government and forcing legal importers out of business,” according to a 2019 report. A crackdown on violators in late 2020 led to a 55% increase in customs duties collected (a proxy for illegal trade) and evidence of a concerted effort by Pakistan to decrease the cost of legal imports, making smuggling unprofitable.

    It will take years to rebuild some US foodservice sectors to 2019 consumer spending levels.

    US Foodservice Recovery Rates Vary Widely by Sector

    By Dan Bolton

    Sales at Quick Service Restaurants (CSR) and the Supermarket Prepared Foods segment are well ahead of pre-pandemic totals but “everyone in foodservice is starting from a really different point,” reports Ann Golladay, senior project director at Datassential Research’s Baltimore office.

    Datassential calculates that — overall — consumer spending in foodservice declined from $806.7 billion in 2019 to $701.4 billion in 2021 and will not return to pre-pandemic spending levels until 2023.

    Golladay explained to webinar participants Aug. 19 that Fast Casual, once the darling of the industry with the largest real growth will not reach pre-pandemic spending levels before 2023 “and that will be nominal growth that does not include inflation,” she said. Golladay estimates inflation at 5% per year “so you will probably have to back down these projections 10% by then,” she said. Consumer spending at fast casual restaurants declined 19% in 2020. The segment is projected to generate $67.4 billion next year compared to almost $68.7 billion spent in 2019.

    A survey of the nation’s grocers found that 74% reported increased sales in 2020. The consumer spend for prepared foods at supermarkets in 2022 will be $38.8 billion, rising by 119% compared to 2019 dollars.

    Recreation, lodging, and convenience store foodservice segments will take even longer to recover. Lodging, for example, will have only achieved 71% of its 2019 consumer spend by 2022.

    Until workers return to downtown offices, the business and industry foodservice sector, projected to reach pre-pandemic sales of $6.9 billion, will never recover.

    Tea Biz Insight – Jack Li, principal at Datassential identified five “x-factors” that could disrupt the official projections. These include new variants, vaccine mandates, additional and extended lockdown, sustained inflation, and a combination of labor and supply chain bottlenecks.

    Tea flavonoids reduce risk and severity of adverse cardiovascular events.

    Researchers Confirm Heart Healthy Aspects of Tea

    By Dan Bolton

    Accumulating evidence of tea’s heart health benefits led researchers to conduct an umbrella review describing and critically evaluating the totality of medical evidence to date.

    Their findings: “It is reasonable to judge that two cups of unsweetened tea per day has the potential to decrease CVD (cardiovascular disease) risk and progression due to its flavonoid content.”

    The peer-reviewed paper authored by Abby Keller and Taylor Wallace and published in the Annals of Medicine, examines 10 years of studies, from 2010 to 2020, that identify several biological mechanisms showing a decreased risk and severity of cardiovascular disease in tea drinkers.

    The authors write that “Results of population studies commonly suggest that tea consumption is inversely associated with several health outcomes. Shorter-term clinical intervention studies provide additional evidence that tea consumption has the potential to affect intermediate outcomes and biomarkers of disease in healthy, at-risk, and diseased populations.”

    Based on this umbrella review, the researchers observed that the consumption of tea as a beverage “did not seem to be harmful to health; therefore, the benefits of moderate consumption likely outweigh risk.” 

    Miriam “Mim” Enck, president of The East Indies Coffee & Tea Company, in Lebanon, Penn., passed away Saturday, Aug. 14 after a short illness. Since 2018 Enck has operated the company founded by her late husband, Walter Progner who started the specialty tea retail business in 1976. She was 75.

    Upcoming Events

    August 2021

    POSTPONED: Beijing International Tea Expo, Beijing China
    August 27-30, 2021 | Beijing Exposition Center (the recent coronavirus outbreak forced Beijing authorities to halt all events that attract large crowds. Watch this space for new date when it becomes available.)

    September 2021

    Caffé Culture Show, Business Design Center, London
    September 2-3 | The European Speciality Tea Association will host a Speciality Tea Hub on the exhibition floor with a tea brew bar, a members’ lounge, educational seminars and small exhibitor pods.  Admission is free | Program | Register

    Level Up, Virtual
    September 29 | The Tea & Herbal Association of Canada will host a mid-year meet up from 10 am to noon. Admission $55 (CAD) Members $50. Agenda | Register

    Click to view more upcoming events.

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  • Q|A Jan Holzapfel

    First-flush teas flown to J.T. Ronnefeldt Tea’s blending and packaging facility in Frankfurt Germany account for only 0.02% of the company’s offerings by weight, yet in a single season “flight tea” generates more greenhouse gas emissions than the millions of kilos transported by ship, says owner Jan Holzapfel. He acknowledges that for a premium tea supplier, abandoning expedient air cargo after 75 years is a significant step: “however, we have a responsibility towards nature that we take very seriously.”

    Ronnefeldt Mood Tea

    Sustainable Wholesale

    Sustainable best practices in the tea gardens are well established and often third-party certified. The tea supply chain links that follow also offer significant opportunities to protect the environment and conserve energy resources. Costs vary by origin and distance to market but middlemen add 20% or more to the cost of delivering tea to retail. Jan Holzapfel, the owner of 198-year-old J. T. Ronnefeldt Tea, has for five years published a sustainability report that clearly states the company’s goals and measures progress toward achieving these initiatives. In 2021 Ronnefeldt is replacing its tea packaging with eco-friendly Teavelopes, embracing traceability, and reducing emissions by no longer air freighting tea.

    Dan Bolton: Ronnefeldt eliminated air cargo in favor of sea transport and will complete its conversion to sustainable packaging materials by year-end. The company is also trading some of its gas-powered vehicles for electric and hybrid-powered vehicles. Will you share with listeners your vision of sustainable wholesale in tea.

    Jan-Berend Holzapfel: Tea is one of the most natural products that you can find on earth. So we as tea producers and tea suppliers must do everything we can to ensure that we continue to have great teas from around the world.

    It is a tradition to have the first flush season teas from Darjeeling transported by air to Germany and Europe, but we stopped this year. Anybody out there waiting for his first flush will have to wait maybe six or eight weeks longer than normal.

    We want to make sure that we get the tea here in an as environmentally friendly way as possible. That is the reason why we have stopped air cargo completely.

    I think it is the right thing to do.

    Another of the many, many steps that we have taken is to eliminate all the traditional packaging materials. We are well on the way to meeting our 2021 goal of fully sustainable packaging materials.

    Teavelope made of sustainable materials
    A Ronnefeldt Teavelope made of sustainable materials.

    It’s not that easy I have to say. Supply is always an issue.  

    We want safe and customer-friendly packaged material, of course, our team has been doing great work here and found all the different packaging materials that we need so that all will be sustainable by the end of this year. 

    For the last five years, we have been publishing our Sustainability Report to show our commitment to sustainability along the entire supply chain from cultivation and transport to refining, packaging, and shipping.

    Here are the company’s five sustainability goals at a glance:

    • 100% sustainable packaging materials
    • Increase training hours per employee
    • Procure tea from small plantations
    • Increase share of organic teas on offer
    • Transition to electric, hybrid, or fuel cell vehicles

    Dan: You mention that Ronnefeldt is also increasing the proportion of organic tea in its range.

    Jan: We are not an organic company yet, but we try to increase our tea selection in our organic range on a constant basis. The good thing is that tea gardens in Asia, but also in Africa, are turning to organic manufacturing methods and therefore we find more and more selection of organic teas. And we are happy to put them Into our range.

    As far as we can see our customer side really appreciates organic, it’s a small proportion of the market, but it’s growing, especially with the younger people.

    Dan: What is your view on traceability and public disclosure of source gardens?

    Jan: I think it’s a very good idea. We see that a lot of customers are really keen and really interested in finding out where the tea is coming from, how it has been produced, how it can be used, and sometimes they are even interested in corporate social responsibility programs at these tea gardens. We are looking for a way to put traceability information online. I think that is the best way because sometimes tea gardens and supplies are changing quite often during the year. If we do it, for example with a QR code and website so that we can really provide up-to-date information about all the specific teas that are available.

    One thing we are also trying is to promote new tea growing areas. 

    There are some fantastic teas from New Zealand, Columbia, Mozambique, Korea, you name it and we are really trying to promote them and help them to grow so that we don’t have to rely on the big tea-producing countries in the future. 

    Dan: Will you discuss your commitment to education and the return to face-to-face instruction beginning in July.

    Jan: Quite often you find that service people in the hotel business all know how to handle the coffee machine, which is quite easy. They might be very interested in wines and make perfect recommendations, but tea seems to be a little bit more difficult. So we have set up different levels of education depending on the outlet, the style of the restaurant, or the cafe in the hotel. 

    We provide anything from a quick 40-minute training with the iPhone or Google app, or up to two days with our team. The gold standard is our seven-day trip to the tea gardens in Sri Lanka.

    We are very happy that we are going to restart face-to-face training in July after the lockdowns. It has been a really, really long time. We can educate about tea, but one key element is really tasting the tea and the interaction with instructors and peers. That is something which can really be only done face to face. 

    Dan: Ronnefeldt supplies upscale hotels in more than 80 countries. How is the recovery progressing?

    Jan: We already see a lot of hotels booking our training programs, our education programs. Before the pandemic, we trained 7,000 hotel staff members each year and that is where we want to come back to as soon as possible. 

    We have seen that since January and February business is picking up in hotels and restaurants in Asia, for example, in China, Korea, and Japan. These are now hot markets for us, but there’s one issue — it’s local tourism now, so it’s the Koreans visiting Korean hotels. There is no international tourism yet.

    In the Middle East hotels are starting to be filled up, but again, it’s local tourists. Europe got a late start. We see restaurants, cafes, etc., being filled up since May but again, international tourists, for example from China or from the United States, are still not here.

    I’m optimistic. I think that tourism will return in summer, maybe early fall. 

    We already see that the hotels in the countryside, real tourist destinations, are already filled every weekend here in Germany, Austria, and Switzerland.

    What will take much longer is business travel to trade shows, conferences, etc., which might take until next year. City destinations still have a lot of capacity to fill.

    Ronnefeldt Tea Academy
    Ronnefeldt Tea Academy

    Ronnefeldt TeaAcademy®

    There are more than 20,000 graduates of the Ronnefeldt TeaAcademy® a program established in 2000 to increase the number of tea experts among beverage professionals so that they can offer the best service for their restaurant or hotel.

    Frank Holzapfel, who created the academy, wrote at the time that “High-quality tea alone is not enough, the tea needs the right preparation, the perfect handling, and the creative staging on-site in the hotel and restaurant by competent and trained employees.”

    Taught in Frankfurt, the two-day Silver-level training is for junior managers in food and beverage with at least one year of professional experience. Apply in writing using the link below and Ronnefeldt will confirm your eligibility in a personal interview.

    Ronnefeldt TeaMaster® Silver certificate holders seeking to bring their tea expertise to perfection may apply for an in-depth seven-day immersion at origin in Sri Lanka. The gold-level program is designed not only to build skills and master techniques but also to achieve a higher level of personal development with individual coaching. Graduates are certified as TeaMasters.

    ? Dan Bolton

    Bernard-Maria Lotz

    TeaAcademy® Head Bernhard-Maria Lotz

    TeaAcademy® “graduates” are true tea experts who can answer any question your guests may have on the topic of tea. The exciting training courses teach practical skills and are designed to be fun.

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  • Japanese Tea Marathon

    Tea lovers, not just athletes, are getting ready to take part in the Tokyo Olympics. Tea enthusiasts from around the world can participate in a marathon of their very own: a marathon of tea.

    The Japanese Tea Marathon is a series of live, online events showcasing teas from 15 of Japan’s tea producing regions. The Zoom sessions, each open to 1,000 viewers, begin July 23 and will be held twice daily, concluding August 8. Two hundred people will enjoy a free flight of teas to accompany the events. The Japan Tea Marathon is a partnership between the Global Japanese Tea Association and the Japan Tea Central Council. The entire world of tea will have an opportunity to cheer their favorite tea to victory.

    Simona Suzuki, née Zavadckyte, co-founder and president Global Japanese Tea Association

    Japan Tea Maraton
    Japan Tea Marathon

    A Race for Tea Lovers

    Tea Biz’s Jessica Natale Woollard speaks with Simona Suzuki, president of the Global Japanese Tea Association, about the Japanese Tea Marathon.

    Tea Biz: How did you choose which teas to feature in the marathon? 

    Simona Suzuki: As you know, Japan makes green tea. However, there are many different kinds, many variations. We wanted to show the variety of Japanese tea, including the 15 tea producing regions, and show their unique teas, their regional teas. Some teas are common across Japan, and some are much less known. We wanted to give a good picture of what Japanese tea is like.  

    Tea Biz: Can you tell us about a few of the teas that will be on the menu?

    Simona Suzuki: We are having 30 teas altogether, two from each region. For example, a very traditional, high-grade loose-leaf tea here in Japan, gyokuro. There are a few areas where gyokuro is made, so we are introducing it from Kyoto and from Fukuoka. It’s one of the really beautiful, umami-rich, sweet teas of Japan.

    Also, organic has been a big topic recently. People are curious and interested in organic and healthy foods. We wanted to include that as well, even if Japan does not produce that much organic tea yet. But there are a few regions where organic tea is made. We are including organic matcha and organic sencha from Kagoshima and Nara. 

    Some of these teas are very well known, abroad as well. But there are also some regional teas that are lesser known. We are really excited to introduce a little-known tea from Kochi Prefecture called goishi-cha. It’s a post-fermented dark tea that has a totally different shape from the teas that people think Japan produces. It’s squares of pressed leaves and has a very unique taste. I hope people will be excited to try it.

    Tea Biz: Will people be able to learn more about all the teas you’ve selected on your website? 

    Simona Suzuki: A big part of this project is to introduce the tea farmers, introduce their teas and the key regions themselves. 

    We do want to share a lot of this information on the website. People can look on our Japanese Tea Marathon website, and they will find information about tea regions and the teas themselves. 

    Tea Biz: Will some of the farmers be presenting at your online events? 

    Simona Suzuki: Definitely, that is our main feature, to introduce the tea farmers, the tea producers. Japanese tea is struggling a little bit; there are many challenges with decreasing demand and aging farmer population and so on. We want to focus on the farmers and producers who put all their heart into making the tea. We will be inviting one or two producers from every region to speak about their region and their teas, to share their stories with participants.

    Tea Biz: Whenever it’s an Olympic year, there’s always a focus on the country hosting. You’re offering a different glimpse into Japanese culture, Japanese tea culture. 

    Simona Suzuki: We definitely feel the Olympic spirit in Japan, and we wanted to join in. Tea is a big part of the culture here, so I think it’s essential to introduce it. 

    Tea Biz: I’ve heard that you’ve already had many participants sign up for the tea tastings and events. Can you tell me a little bit about the people who are going to be participating? 

    Simona Suzuki: We can welcome up to 1,000 people to this event. So far we’ve had people registering from over 40 different countries around the world. This is going to be a really global event.

    Tea Biz: Incredible! Forty countries represented already.

    A marathon of tea sounds like one marathon I just might be able to complete. 

    Simona Suzuki
    Simona Suzuki leading a tasting of Japanese tea.

    Marathon Details

    Visit the Global Japanese Tea Association for more information to sign up.

    Event dates and times: The Japanese Tea Marathon will be held between 23rd July – 8th August. To account for the time difference each regional event will be held twice a day: 11am-1pm and 4pm-6pm (JST). 

    Event language: English will be the main language of the events with some translation from Japanese.

    Participation fee: Participation in the Japanese Tea Marathon is free of charge.

    Participation mode: Online through Zoom. Zoom information will be sent to registered participants before the start of the Japanese Tea Marathon.

    Participation options:

    • Ticket with a set of 30 teas (2 from each region)
      • Registration deadline 30th May, 2021
      • Limited up to 200 participants. If more than 200 people apply, priority will be given to those, who: 
        • can participate in the whole marathon
        • can help promote the event (tea schools, tea shops, tea blogs, etc.)
      • The tea set and shipping are free of charge, but depending on the country import taxes and duties may apply.
    • Regular ticket
      • Registration deadline 7th August, 2021
      • Available up to 1000 people

    Recording: The events will be recorded and may be displayed publicly. If you do not wish to be recorded, please have your video and audio off. 

    ? Jessica Natale Woollard

    Japan Tea Marathon
    Japan Tea Marathon

    The Japanese Tea Marathon is organized by and the Japan Tea Central Council PIIA and the Global Japanese Tea Association. 

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  • The Charm of Vancouver’s Chinatown

    The announcement in 1984 that the British colony of Hong Kong would be formally transferred to China in 1997,  led to an exodus of 335,646 emigrants many of whom made Vancouver their new home. Today a second surge is building as new visa applications rose by more than 20% in 2020 to 10,800 applicants for Canadian residency. In the Vancouver suburb of Richmond, 42% of residents list either Cantonese or Mandarin as their first language. Retailers benefitted as demand swelled for authentic Chinese tea, leading widespread popularity and the expansion of Vancouver’s Chinatown, now the third largest Chinatown in North America.

    Listen here:

    Jessica Natale Woollard takes listeners on a virtual tour of Vancouver’s Chinatown

    Millennium Gate Vancouver Chinatown
    Millennium Gate, Vancouver Chinatown

    Millennium Gate | Commons

    The Charm of Vancouver’s Chinatown

    By Jessica Woollard

    In 1981, Kwok Sun Cheung, an immigrant from Hong Kong, opened the first premium teashop in recent memory in Vancouver, British Columbia, on Canada’s West Coast.

    Catering primarily to immigrants from China, Mr. Cheung chose Vancouver’s Chinatown for the location of his shop. Now a National Historic Site, Vancouver’s Chinatown spans around six blocks and is located a short walk from Vancouver Harbor and the cauldron from the 2010 Winter Olympic games. It’s the third-largest Chinatown in North America, after New York and San Francisco.

    Olivia Chan, Mr. Cheung’s daughter, now runs the teashop, called Treasure Green Tea Company. The shop is one of two premium loose leaf tea purveyors in Vancouver Chinatown. The second shop, called simply The Chinese Tea Shop, is a six-minute walk from Treasure Green. The shop and opened in 2004.

    Tour of the tea shops: Treasure Green Tea Company

    Our tour begins at Treasure Green Tea Company on East Georgia Street.

    Upon entering the modern storefront, you’ll sense immediately the vibe is east meets west. There is minimalistic décor accented with old finishes to keep with tradition and Mr. Cheung’s legacy. Olivia says it’s important the shop is appealing to modern customers — maybe people new to tea — but that it also not lose its strong tie to tradition.

    Treasure Green Tea Company
    Treasure Green Tea Company

    Here’s how she’s accomplishing that blend of old and new:

    Near the back of the shop is a black, sleek table with white benches, used for tea education and conversation. Adjacent to the table is a wall of white pigeonhole shelving. It’s a very modern, clean look until you examine the items on display in each of the pigeon holes more carefully: there are earth-colored terracotta teapots, with an old-world feel, alternating alternate with modern ceramics.

    Old meets new again in the way Treasure Green makes use of tea canisters in the decor. Behind the sleek main counter, you’ll see wooden furniture on which rests a conservative selection of canisters with crisp, cream labels. On the labels, is calligraphy in black and red ink. The crispness of the printed labels gives those canisters a very modern feel.

    But across from that main counter, you’ll see older looking canisters with red labels. Those labels feature Mr. Cheung’s hand-drawn calligraphy. They are the original canisters from when the shop opened in 1981, and they are placed in a few areas of the shop as well as in a memorabilia space, detailing the shop’s history.

    Olivia also honors tradition through the tea leaves she sells. Many are purchased from farmers her father started working with in the 1980s. Just like Olivia is second generation, some of the tea farmers she works with are also second generation.

    I asked Olivia if it’s important to nurture the relationship her family has had with tea farmers over the years. Here’s what she told me:

    “Absolutely, it’s like any other relationship. You need to keep it alive and connected. It means a lot to them for someone to come from abroad and say hello,” she says.

    Ultimately, Olivia wants to connect her customers at Treasure Green with the best, premium Chinese teas she can source. “Some people might come in and say, ‘I’m trying to replace my coffee in the morning,’ and we will suggest some tea that a little bit heavier flavor and with a higher caffeine content,” says Olivia. “Some people might come in and say, I want some green tea and then you need to understand why they’re drinking green tea. For example, some green tea can be very loaded with antioxidants. So it depends what benefits they want to be getting from the beverage.”

    To ensure the teas she sells are high-quality and pure, Olivia examines how clean the tea is and how it’s handcrafted. She also looks at the flavor — no pesticides, which she says you can taste — smoothness, durability (numbers of brews), sweetness and the after-taste.

    Tour of the tea shops: The Chinese Tea Shop

    Once Olivia and her staff have helped you select the right tea for you, leave the shop heading west, stroll four blocks on Main Street, then turn left on East Pender. Walk another 250 meters. When you see bright red awnings at the corner of East Pender and Columbia Street, you’ve arrived at The Chinese Tea Shop.

    The Chinese Tea Shop
    The Chinese Tea Shop

    Like Mr. Cheung, owner Daniel Liu is from Hong Kong; he immigrated to Canada in 1997.

    The feel of The Chinese Tea Shop is traditional in the best way. The shop features many shelving units packed with items — teawares, teacakes, canisters, and all the items you need to prepare tea using the Chinese method — Gong Fu Cha, meaning Tea with Great Skill. You’ll find tea scoops, trays, gaiwan.

    The furniture in the shop is made of rich wood, many pieces coming from China, adding to the traditional feel of the shop.

    It’s a place where it feels right to drink aged tea dust kept in an antique tin receptacle, steeped in water from an embossed cast iron kettle.

    Daniel, like Olivia, sources his high-quality premium teas selectively. He travels to China yearly to meet his contacts and sample teas in person. Relationships, he writes on his website, “are essential to procuring the best tea.”

    After visits to Treasure Green and the Chinese Tea Shop, your mind will be full of wonderful information about tea, and, importantly, your palate will be activated, delighted by the premium teas available in Vancouver’s Chinatown.

    Related: Wikipedia

    227 East Georgia Street
    Vancouver, BC V6A 1Z6

    (604) 687-4181


    Treasure Green Tea Company
    Treasure Green Tea Company

    101 E Pender St
    Vancouver, BC V6A 1T6

    (604) 633-1322


    The Chinese Tea Shop
    The Chinese Tea Shop

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  • Tea Biz Podcast | Episode 20

    Hear the Headlines

    | Pandemic Powers Organic Sales
    | Tea Cafes Cautiously Re-opening
    | Tata Expands Direct-to-Customer Range
    | Buyers Spend Big at Chinese International Tea Expo

    Seven-minute News Recap

    India Tea Price Watch | Sale 21


    Tea Biz this week travels to Japan where the Japan Tea Central Council and the Global Japanese Tea Association are organizing a Tea Marathon during the Tokyo Olympics so that enthusiasts worldwide can better appreciate the great variety of tea grown there

    … and then onto Vancouver, British Columbia, where Jessica Woollard leads a virtual tour of Chinatown, a Canadian National Historic Site, and the location of the Treasure Green Tea Company and the Chinese Tea Shop ? two of the best places to find authentic Chinese tea

    Japan Tea Maraton
    Discover new teas during the Japan Tea Virtual Marathon from July 23 through Aug. 8

    Japan Tea Marathon

    Virtual tour of 15 tea producing regions tracks Tokyo Olympics

    By Jessica Woollard

    The Japan Tea Marathon is a series of live online events featuring teas from 15 of Japan’s tea-producing regions. Zoom sessions begin July 23 and are held twice daily, concluding Aug. 8. Two hundred competing brewers and 1,000 regular admissions give the entire world of tea an opportunity to cheer their favorite to victory.

    Learn more…

    Simona Suzuki, née Zavadckyte, president of Global Japan Tea Association describes the upcoming marathon.
    Chinese Tea Shop
    The Chinese Tea Shop, Vancouver, BC

    The Charm of Vancouver’s Chinatown

    By Jessica Natale Woollard

    In 1981, Kwok Sun Cheung, an immigrant from Hong Kong, opened the first premium teashop in recent memory in Vancouver, British Columbia, on Canada’s West Coast.

    Catering primarily to immigrants from China, Mr. Cheung chose Vancouver’s Chinatown for the location of his shop. Now a National Historic Site, Vancouver’s Chinatown spans around six blocks and is located a short walk from Vancouver Harbour and the cauldron from the 2010 Winter Olympic games. It is the third-largest Chinatown in North America, after New York and San Francisco.

    Today we are speaking with Olivia Chan, Mr. Cheung’s daughter at the Treasure Green Tea Co. and with Daniel Liu, owner of The Chinese Tea Shop.

    Read more…

    Jessica Natale Woollard takes listeners on a virtual of Vancouver’s Chinatwon

    Tea News you Need to Know

    Pandemic Powers Organic Food Growth
    Pandemic Powers Organic Food Growth

    Pandemic Powers Organic Sales

    By Dan Bolton

    The Organic Trade Association reports that US sales of organic food and beverages set a record in 2020, growing 12.4% to $62 billion. The total includes organic food, which grew by 12.8% to $56.4 billion. Import values for green tea also spiked, increasing 28% compared to 2019. Organically certified foods now account for almost 6% of total US food sales.

    The pandemic caused consumer dollars to shift almost overnight from restaurants and carry-out to groceries, with traditional staples and pantry and freezer items flying off the shelves, according to OTA, “the only thing that constrained growth in the organic food sector was supply.”

    Read more….

    Bettys Harrogate
    Century-old Bettys Harrogate as featured on Extraordinary Places To Eat by BBC Select

    Tea Retailers are Cautiously Re-Opening

    A tearoom in Texas, a tea café in Portland, and the Samovar Tea Lounge in San Francisco are now open for business. In Portland, the menu at the new Smith Teamaker Café features tea as a spice, an ingredient, and a beverage. In Montreal cafes with terraces opened May 28 and sit-down restrictions ended in Britain on June 2. Irish pubs, Dublin bars, and restaurants are open for outdoor dining on June 7. In Montreal the Café Myriade, Café Parvis, and Café Olimpico drew urban street crowds. Quaint tea rooms in small towns, like The Charleston Tea Room in Friendswood, Tex., a city of 39,000 near Houston, are seating guests after a year. Sadly, many did not survive the financial hardship caused by extended lockdowns. In many cases, these shops, like the one in Friendswood, will open with new owners. Möge Tee, a franchise bubble tea venture, will open two shops in New York City. Drive-thru HTeaO announced 11 new ice-tea franchise locations bringing its total to 41.

    Biz Insight – Sit-down restrictions ended in Britain this week, check out the video linked above from the series Extraordinary Places To Eat by BBC Select. The setting is afternoon tea at century-old Bettys Harrogate, one of six tea rooms in Yorkshire, UK.

    Tata Tea 1868
    Package illustrations for the Tata Tea 1868 collection

    Tata Expands Direct-to-Consumer Range

    Tata Consumer Products expanded its successful direct-to-consumer (DTC) range to include specialty coffee this week. The successful April launch of a DTC website featuring “1868 By Tata Tea” reinvigorated the 13-variety luxury tea selection, launched in January 2018 to commemorate the company’s 150th anniversary.  The teas are exclusively available online at www.tatatea1868.com

    Tata’s Puneet Das, president of packaged beverages for India and South Asia, said, “This is our entry into the direct to consumer commerce ecosystem which is a small but emerging space,” adding that “1868 is an example of our continuing investment in our brands as we innovate to create quality and distinctive products for our consumers.”

    Teas in the 1868 collection are sold in premium tins organized by origin and type. The 1868 Darjeeling Rare Wonder is priced at INRs 1,500 (about $20) for 50 grams, the Nilgiri Green Twirl at INRs 500.

    In February 2020 Tata reorganized how it brings its products to market, creating Tata Consumer Products, a Bengaluru-based integrated food, and beverage company that offers tea, coffee, bottled water, salt, pulses, spices, breakfast cereals, snacks, and ready-to-cook mixes.

    Biz Insight – Tata’s new DTC specialty coffee line is called Sonnets. It is sourced from the company’s south India farms. India is mainly an instant coffee filter market, says Tata’s Puneet Das who explains that Sonnets is targeted to QUOTE “a more discerning consumer looking for freshly ground roasted coffee delivered to their doorstep,” he said, adding, “With the prolonged COVID-19 lockdowns, consumers are seeking more coffee drinking occasions at home. This is especially true as cafes and coffee shops have remained off bounds during the pandemic.”

    Hubei Pavilion at China International Tea Expo

    China International Tea Expo

    Live tea expositions, seminars, and tradeshows are returning with vigor in China. The five-day China International Tea Expo (CTE) that opened in Hangzhou on International Tea Day (May 21) drew a crowd of 152,000 mainly domestic tea buyers. In aggregate they spent RMB6.4 billion purchasing 254 million tons of tea, a 14% increase compared to the previous event. The average value of transactions was up 20% to RMB223 million and orders topped 13,000.

    CTE is the largest tea exposition in China. Buyers collectively spent RMB6.4 billion purchasing 254 million tons of tea, a 14% increase compared to the previous event. The average value of transactions was up 20% to RMB223 million and the number of on-site orders topped 13,000. In 2019 there were 10,787 transactions, suggesting pent-up demand.

    The 2019 expo attracted 3,425 foreign buyers from 46 countries. In addition, there were nearly 200 foreign VIPs from 42 countries and international organizations. In 2021 only a few in-country foreign buyers attended as travel restrictions apply.

    Biz Insight – China’s borders remain closed to all but residents of these 23 countries. Travelers must provide proof of receiving a second of two shots at least 14 days prior to entry and they must present two negative tests PCR and antibody tests, taken within 48 hours of travel. Travelers are checked once again on arrival. Anyone failing the test will be isolated at a government facility. All others were quarantined for 14 days, often at home, an approved hotel, or a government facility. In some regions, the requirement is 14+7 (with the last seven days monitored by local community health officials). Entry restrictions are not likely to ease until February 2022 just before the Beijing Winter Olympics. The events are scheduled for February 4-20. Read more…

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