Tea Cozy Competition Sweeps Australia

Rainbow Delight by Heather Graham - Courtesy ABC Gippsland

Rainbow Delight by Heather Graham  – Photo Courtesy ABC Gippsland

Participants took up knitting needles, chain mail and astroturf to create some of the most unusually tea cozies for this year’s Fish Creek Tea Cosy Festival in Australia. Featuring music, movies, music workshops, a makers’ fair, and afternoon teas, the ten day festival (May 16-25) is also hosting its second tea cozy competition.

Fish Creek, known locally as “Fishy,” is a township located in South Gippsland, Victoria, Australia. Victoria, where Melbourne is also located, is a state in southeastern Australia. According to the festival website, “The Tea Cosy (Festival) reflects the rural setting of Fish Creek, the

1066AD by Rhonda Mayo and Steampunk Tea Cosy by Andy Macpherson

1066AD by Rhonda Mayo and Steampunk Tea Cosy by Andy Macpherson

nurturing and welcoming nature of the town, the blending of traditional and new enterprises and the opportunity to reinvent an iconic symbol of everyday life.

The 165 entries came from all over Australia as well as from other countries across the globe. The judging categories included traditional, aquatic, “exbuberant whimsy,” and even “butch” which were tea cozies made by men or for use by men. Contestants could compete in the junior, open, or senior categories.

One unusual group of entries came from knitters in Tecoma who created cozies to protest the construction of a McDonald’s in their village.

Tecoma Knitters Protest Cosies - Courtesy ABC Gippsland

Tecoma Knitters Protest Cosies

Children’s book author and illustrator Alison Lester was the judge. The festival is sponsored by Madame Flavour teas, Regional Arts Victoria and the South Gippsland Shire Council.

Source: ABC Gippsland, Fish Creek Tea Cosy Festival

Need to Know (April 30, 2014)

What tea professionals need to know this week —

Award winning Maine tea house up for sale….Milo’s Tea reaches new markets…Teavana opens new location in Chicago…Book deal for Zhena’s Gypsy Teas founder….The press can’t get over the President’s introduction to green tea ice cream…Stash walks away from Sustainable Forest Initiative


Clipper MerchantMaine’s Clipper Merchant Tea House Up for Sale

Heather and Gary Labbe, owners of Limerick, Me.’s Clipper Merchant Tea House have announced that their shop and home are available for sale. This gothic home built in the 1830s has been beautifully restored and served as a tea room for the past eight years. The tea room can seat 40 in the four seating areas and there is a 3 bedroom living space above. The Clipper Merchant has gained a reputation for excellence, receiving a mention in Yankee Magazine’s Top Tea Rooms in New England (written by yours truly) as well as an Editor’s Pick nod in 2011 and a spot in Victorian Homes Magazine’s Top Ten Tea Rooms in the U.S.

Read more about Clipper Merchant on their website.


Milo’s Tea Spills Into New States

Milo’s Tea of Alabama is more than doubling the number of states where it is sold.

Milo’s bills itself as a ready-to-drink tea company that believes in using real tea leaves with no preservatives and additives. They sell sweet teas (and an unsweetened version) and lemonade in gallon containers, as well as 12 ounce and 20 ounce bottles. They began selling their bottled tea in 1989, although the recipe was one developed at the family’s hamburger shop in the 1940s.

The company had distributed to 18 states and will now add 20 more states to its reach.

Source: Birmingham Business Journal and AL.com


Teavana Continues to Open New Cafes – On to Chicago!

PrintWe can’t let New York have all the fun. This week Starbucks moved from the Big Apple to the Windy City to open its third Teavana Fine Teas + Tea Bar. With scones, soup and salads, Teavana is looking for folks to do more than grab a cuppa for the road. Starbucks is aiming to open hundreds more like this, trying to make tea drinking as common as a $4 cup of coffee.

Unlike the tea offerings at most Starbucks locations, the Teavana shops focus on premium teas, offering a broad range of flavored and unflavored options.

The mission to convert more people to tea drinking continues as Starbucks opens two more Teavana shops later this year — one in New York and one in Los Angeles.

Source: Chicago Tribune


Read All About It – Book Deal for Zhena’s Tea

Zhena - 2Zhena Muzyka of Zhena’s Gypsy Tea is branching out. Apparently founding and heading up a popular tea brand isn’t enough. Muzyka recently signed a three book deal with Simon & Schuster. The first book, Life By The Cup: Ingredients for a Purpose-Filled Life of Bottomless Happiness and Limitless Success, will be released on June 17. The book chronicles Muzyka’s life from her early days as a single mom with very little money to her first forays into selling tea from a tea cart to now, as founder and owner of a nationally-known tea brand.

Don’t have time to give it a read? You’ll have the chance to catch more Zhena on the small screen. Mark Wahlberg’s production company intends to create a television series inspired by the book.


Stash Turns Back on Sustainable Forestry Initiative

Stash Tea has recently announced that they will remove the Sustainable Forestry Initiative logo from their products, joining a growing number of companies that are stepping away from the label. The Sustainable Forestry Initiative was created and funded by the logging industry. Many claim that SFI practices continue the destruction of woodlands, spreads pollution and expands the usage of pesticides which impact soil and water sources.

Other companies that have publicly stated opposition to the SFI label include Shutterfly, AT&T, Energizer and Southwest Airline..

Read more about the SFI controversy in the Portland Tribune.

Source: Environmental Leader


President Dines on Green Tea Ice Cream

Here’s an idea for your next dinner party. During the president’s recent trip to Asia he was served a dessert specifically requested by Japanese Emperor Akihito — ice cream shaped like Mount Fuji. The bottom layer of the dessert? Green tea ice cream. Time to break out the ice cream maker.


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Tea Biz serves a core audience of beverage professionals in the belief that insightful journalism informs business decision making. Tea Biz reports what matters along the entire supply chain, emphasizing trustworthy sources and sound market research while discarding fluff and ignoring puffery.

Tea Biz posts are available to use in your company newsletter or website. Purchase reprint and distribution rights for single articles or commission original content.  Click here for details.

Austin Hodge’s Qingming Report 2014

Qing Ming 2014

By Austin Hodge, President of Seven Cups
Seven Cups is an importer of Chinese tea, located in Tucson, Arizona

Filed April 6, 2014. An abridged version appeared in World Tea News previously. Read our previous story about Qing Ming and its meaning from our April 7 Need to Know post.

I started writing this on the way up Xigui Mountain in Lincang Country to check out the condition of some ancient tea trees. We raced  along a one lane winding road for about 80 kilometers, starting in Lincang City, a thousand feet above the valley floor. Along the mountain roads there are hard working stone carvers making new facades for the ancestors of local tea growers, as well as plenty of colorful fake money to be burned so that they have some cash. There is plenty of incense also to celebrate Qing Ming, the tomb sweeping holiday, pivotal for both ancestor worship and tea. It was typical of my trip traveling through Lincang Country, visiting areas that are producing some of the most sought after puer. This puer is certainly some of the most expensive, ranging into the thousands of dollars per kilo.

My first question has been how’s the weather? How has it affected the tea? In this area of Yunnan the weather has not been problematic.  The old tea trees are producing excellently. The prices here have been doubling every year, and questions about a new bubble are met with exuberant denial even though the evidence is abundant that a crash is coming.

A few weeks ago I was in Hangzhou in Zhejiang, and then I traveled to Anhui and Fujian. The harvest had just begun in Zhejiang, coming a few days before I got the in Xinchang, guaranteeing a very robust pre-Qingming harvest. In all of those places I could not find any evidence that the hot, dry summer last year would have any effect on this years crop. There has never been any time in history, that I know of, where the was no pre-Qingming tea produced, so I can only see those dire predictions coming out of the Chinese press last year, as an attempt to imitate American cable news journalism. I was a little bit early for the harvest to begin in Huangshan but there was no indication that there would not be a great crop this year. The same was true in the Wuyishan area where twice I was caught in the rain searching for shelter while up in the mountains.

On our way to Xishuanbana in Southern Yunnan, just out side of Jingmai, we were caught in a violent thunderstorm while having dinner. According to one of the peasants that owned the place, the government had been seeding the clouds to create some badly needed rain. The ferocious storm tried to blow his little corrugated metal Chinese greasy spoon away while we ate. Just down the road we passed a massive metal billboard sign that had been blown off of a roof blocking most of the road. This last winter brought record low temperatures to the south of Yunnan; snow fell for the first time in some places, damaging some of the forests.

The day before Qing Ming, yesterday, I got a much more reliable report from an old friend in Youle, on top of one of the ‘Six Famous Mountains’ of Xishaunbana. Yang Guanqi is one of my favorite producers in the area  and my go-to guy when it comes to any question about Xishuanbana.  The rumor about the cloud seeding was probably not true, because the rain had been going on for days, and it rained while we were looking over his ancient tree garden in the afternoon. Still the drought that has been going on for years in Southern Yunnan will not be countered by a few days rain. It has drastically affected the old trees and overall production is way down and will be this year also. The trees will not be harmed, but their new growth will be small and has been decreasing every year. This year will be the no different. The younger bushes are going to produce more quality in contrast. Tea consumers should be very skeptical when buying any cakes being advertised as coming from old trees. The price of all puer will go up this year.

Need to Know (April 7, 2014)

What tea professionals need to start the week —

It’s QingMing….The Global Dubai Tea Forum is about to begin…JT&Tea, a new business from Thomas Shu and Josephine Pan….Rooibee Red Tea for the Whole Family….Arizona Iced Tea off to court…and before you go to buy your Chamomile Colored Mini Cooper T, read this report.


Qing Ming Is Over so Pre-Qing Ming Tea Is on the Way

This year’s Qing Ming Festival was on April 5, celebrating the arrival of spring and the remembrance of ancestors.

For tea lovers, Qing Ming indicates that the much coveted pre-Qing Ming teas will soon be available. Pre-Qing Ming teas are the first harvested each season. Plucking can begin as early as mid-March and finishes just before the festival. Demand is always high for these young leaves.

Interested in pre-Qing Ming teas? Keep in mind that not all tea plants grow at the same time or the same rate, so not all pre-Qing Mings are created equal. Teas like dragonwell are premium pre-Qing Ming picks, while teas from places like Yunnan that are warmer have already passed the moment of the youngest, most tender leaves.


Reports from the UAE and the Dubai Global Tea Forum

Tea Biz editor Dan Bolton has just arrived in Dubai for this year’s Dubai Global Tea Forum. Dubai has seen an increase in tea trade volume of 29% in the last year and an increase in value of 34%. They are now the world’s largest re-exporter of tea, with more than 60% of market share.

The forum will be attended by delegates from 30 tea producing and consuming countries. It opens on Tuesday, April 8 and will close on Thursday, April 10.

Bolton will be providing reports from the conference to Tea Biz so keep watching.


JT & T Inc. to Promote Taiwanese Teas

Screen Shot 2014-04-07 at 10.01.29 AMJosephine Pan and Thomas Shu, the team behind ABC Tea, has announced the launch of a new tea company JT & Tea Inc. (ABC Tea is now a division of JT & Tea.)

JT&T will be launching an Oolong Sommelier course, a certification program to become a Taiwan Oolong Specialist. JT&T will operate events at the 2014 World Tea Expo on behalf of the Taiwan Tea Manufacturers’ Association including a world origin tasting tour, an oolong rolling demonstration, and a class on tea baking. They will also operate another Taiwan Oolongs Study Tour (TOST) from October 23 – 30, 2014.

Full coverage of JT & T Inc. will come later this week on Tea Biz.


Rooibee Roo, Bottled Rooibos for Kids

Screen Shot 2014-04-07 at 10.08.23 AMRooibee Red Tea has announced the release of a new product, Rooibee Roo, a bottled rooibos for kids. The concept was to provide the health benefits of rooibos in a form that was more appealing to children by adding cherry, orange and mango flavors. Because it is rooibos, it is naturally caffeine-free.

According to Rooibee Red’s Chief Tea Officer Heather Howell, “I’m happy to fulfill the need of a healthier drink option for children by offering a tea with kid-friendly flavors, filled with unique minerals and antioxidants that also fall in line with school nutrition standards,” said Howell. “As a parent I know how important it is to feel confident about what your children put in their bodies.”

The new product was introduced at Natural Products West and will be sold online and in a limited number of retail stores.


Off to court for Arizona Iced Tea…again…

In a battle that seems like it will never end, a judge has refused an interim buyout payment of $200 million in the AriZona Iced Tea ownership dispute. This will force things to trial beginning next month. Behind the dispute? Co-founder John Ferolito is trying to sell his 50% stake, claiming that the company is worth $4 billion. His partner Domenick Vultaggio said it’s only worth about $400 million. You can read more about the case here in a World Tea News report from 2012. It may be two years old, but since then it’s really been more of the same.


In the Market for a Tea-Fueled Car?

Mini-Cooper-T-626x489And finally, there may have been some disappointed tea fanatics when they found out the new MINI Cooper T that operated on tea leaf biofuel was only an April Fools joke. MINI sent out the release, reporting that their car could get 40 miles per cup of tea and was available in Chamomile Yellow, Red Bush, and Earl Grey. It also offered a Dunk Filtration System that would keep peckish drivers or nearby pedestrians from dipping their biscuits into the fuel tanks.

You can see the original post on the MINI UK Facebook page.


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Tea Biz serves a core audience of beverage professionals in the belief that insightful journalism informs business decision making. Tea Biz reports what matters along the entire supply chain, emphasizing trustworthy sources and sound market research while discarding fluff and ignoring puffery.

Tea Biz posts are available to use in your company newsletter or website. Purchase reprint and distribution rights for single articles or commission original content.  Click here for details.

Need to Know (March 31, 2014)

What tea professionals need to start the week —

Capital Teas poised to grow with a $5 million investment…Pure Leaf Iced Tea partners with Food & Wine…TetraPak encourages tea companies to think differently…University of Leicester students seek the perfect tea formula


$5 Million Investment Prepares Capital Teas for Growth


Capital Teas owners Manelle and Peter Martino

Capital Teas of Annapolis, Md. has just raised $5 million in its latest round of funding with Pear Tree Partners. The company intends to expand their reach, opening new stores across a wider region, expanding their wholesale efforts with hotels and restaurants, and strengthening their online shopping program.

The company, founded in 2007 by Peter and Manelle Martino, will continue to operate under their leadership. Manelle’s family has been in the tea business for five generations with her great-great-grandfather growing tea in Sri Lanka. They currently have six stores plus warehouse operations and a seventh store will open this spring.

Pure Leaf and Food & Wine Magazine Partner to Support Sustainable Food

WholesomeWavePure Leaf Iced Tea has announced their efforts to support Food & Wine Magazine’s Grow for Good program. Grow for Good was created by the magazine to provide charitable support for local and sustainable food programs. This year the partnership will focus on Wholesome Wave, a non-profit that improves access to healthy, locally grown food to underserved populations.

“Pure Leaf has always been committed to providing premium taste through tea made from real tea leaves, and in 2014, we want to reinforce our passion for realness and help to provide others with access to wholesome and sustainable foods,” Eric Whitehouse, Marketing Director, The Pepsi Lipton Tea Partnership said in a press release.

Wholesome Wave currently serves 28 states and the District of Columbia. The organization instituted the Double Value Coupon Program which doubles the value of food stamps that are used at farmers’ markets. They work with health clinics and other medical facilities to help ensure fresh foods are getting to the people who need them most. They also help small regional farms get their produce into institutions like hospitals and schools.


TetraPak Encourages Tea Companies to Rethink their Formulas

Suley Muratoglu, Vice President of marketing and product management at TetraPak US and Canada, had some strong words of caution in a recent issue of Beverage Daily. In the article, Muratoglu highlights one of the big challenges faced by tea packagers. Because tea is low acid, it can raise concerns for regulators about its safety when packaged. Ascorbic acid is added to ensure that it meets safety requirements, but then sugar must be added to counteract the acidic quality. In the end, flavor is compromised. He believes that these factors are some of the reasons that these mass-market grocery teas may be seeing stagnant growth while specialty tea is on the rise.

In the story, Muratoglu encourages a reconsideration of aseptic packaging which can safely contain a purer tea product.

TetraPak was founded in 1951 and is currently one of the world’s largest packagers. They produce aseptic packaging for a wide variety of products including tea.

Source: Beverage Daily


Using Math to Find Tea’s Perfect Formula

On a lighter note, students at the University of Leicester decided it was time to find the perfect way to brew tea…using math.

Representatives from building company Jelson Homes asked the team of future mathematicians to try to develop a formula for making the perfect cup of builders tea. The final formula?

Perfect cuppa: 2B + 30R + E(m + q + t) + 10W

B represents the minutes steeped. R is the number of seconds it should rest. W is ml of milk. As for the “E(m+q+t)”? Big mug, quality tea, and a treat.

Sounds like a good idea to me.


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Tea Biz serves a core audience of beverage professionals in the belief that insightful journalism informs business decision making. Tea Biz reports what matters along the entire supply chain, emphasizing trustworthy sources and sound market research while discarding fluff and ignoring puffery.

Tea Biz posts are available to use in your company newsletter or website. Purchase reprint and distribution rights for single articles or commission original content.  Click here for details.

What Changes Are Being Proposed by the FDA for Labels?

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is considering new requirements for nutrition labeling for food and beverage products that will, among others, impact companies with ready-to-drink tea products. The FDA feels that the 20-year-old labeling systems would benefit from an overhaul to better inform consumers in their choices.

FDA LabelingThere are two fundamental parts to the proposed changes. The first addresses the actual nutritional information being reported. There would be a reevaluation of the daily nutritional values of certain vitamins and minerals. Vitamin D would be added, while Vitamins C and A would be eliminated. Additional information about sugar would be provided as well. Serving sizes would be most affected by the rules rewrite. The new serving sizes would better reflect how people actually eat and drink today. For example, a 20 ounce bottle of cola would no longer list the contents as two servings. A bottled drink that would usually be consumed during one sitting would need to have nutritional information reflect the values for the entire bottle. Larger bottles would list the amounts for a single serving, as well as the values if the entire bottle is consumed. The second change impacts the actual layout of the label. Calories would become more prominent. The chart showing daily nutritional values would be reversed so the percentages for each item would be listed before the actual amounts.

According to the Wall Street Journal, smaller companies are concerned about the added costs that will result from these changes. Calculating serving sizes and redesigning and printing labels can be a significant investment for small shops. Bottled rooibos company Rooibee Red Tea commented, noting that the new information would not fit on their existing label, requiring a redesign running as much as $30,000.

The FDA is currently accepting public comment both on the revised nutritional reporting and on the proposed redesign. The comment period closes on June 2, 2014. Once changes are approved, companies would have two years to come into compliance.

Source: Wall Street Journal and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration

Image courtesy of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

Survey Shows Tea Topping Soda Among Adults

NCA Coffee Drinking Trends_Illustration

Adult Tea Drinkers Exceed Soda Drinkers in National Survey

NEW ORLEANS, LA– The National Coffee Association’s survey of drinking trends for the first time in decades revealed the number of past-day tea drinkers is greater than adults choosing soda.

What did you drink yesterday? is one of the National Coffee Drinking Trends questions: Soda fell to 41% behind coffee, tap water (54%) and tea (44%). Coffee topped the list with 61% of those queried. The survey engaged a nationally representative sample of about 3,000 people 18 and older. It is conducted in January and February each year.

Coffee has often been the first choice in surveys dating to 1950. Water is subdivided into tap water 54% and bottled water (46%) for a total 100%. Past-day incidence of tea drinking was next ahead of soda, milk, juice and alcohol. The big change was in carbonated soda which fell 9 points compared to last year’s survey. Tap water is up 7 percentage points in part due to economic conditions and as the most popular soda alternate.

Individuals 40-49 years of age are the most frequent coffee drinkers at four cups per day. The average number of previous day cups was 3.4 for past day drinkers.

Sports, energy drinks and energy shots were consumed by 14% of respondents (totals do not sum to 100 as many respondents reported drinking several different beverages the previous day). The percent of people drinking coffee is on the rise as well as tea and hot drinks in general. Past day drinkers are predominately hot coffee drinkers (93%) with 7% drinking iced or frozen coffee. In the 2014 survey 73% of Americans reported drinking coffee in the past week and 79% in the past year.

Also significant is the fact that 34% of coffee drinkers drank a gourmet/specialty coffee the previous day. Daily non-gourmet coffee drinking is down to 35% from last year’s 39%. Most coffee is prepared at home (85%) but 35% of previous day coffee drinkers report they purchased coffee away from home. The total exceeds 100 as many respondents drink coffee prepared at home as well as the office, restaurants and coffee shops.

Single-serve continues its meteoric rise, 29% of previous-day coffee drinkers reported their coffee was prepared with a single-cup brewer. The study showed 15% of American households now own a single-serve brewer with 25% of those who do not have a brewer indicating they will purchase one within six months. Only 53% of those who brewed coffee at home used a drip brewer. The remaining coffee at home is prepared on an espresso machine (12%) or from instant, 12%.

To learn more: NCA MarketResearchSeries,

Full tabular data are also available.

By Dan Bolton