It’s Tea Festival Season – Need to Know

It’s Tea Festival Season – Need to Know

Festival season is underway with great events scheduled in Sydney, Dublin and Vancouver…

Western Tea Festivals launched in the past couple of years are drawing crowds of 5,000 to 7,000. Events in major cities across the globe introduce consumers to tea customs and styles. Educational programs are popular with experts sharing methods of preparation while discussing processing techniques and origin.

Retailers typically organize these events in cooperation with local governments and tea marketing associations. Financial support from tea wholesalers, brewing and service ware manufacturers make it possible to keep admission prices low.

Here is a quick recap of shows in the weeks ahead:

Sydney Tea Festival – Aug. 16, 2015

LOGO-SydneyTeaFestivalThis event, co-founded by retailers Renee Creer and Corinne Smith, follows the 2014 debut.  Organizers expect 7,000 to attend a tea market with 50 stalls, tea education program and to take home $4 souvenir tea tasting cups (for samples).

New workshop sessions include tea and dessert pairing with Black Star Pastry and how to create your own chai with the Sticky Chai boys. There’s also the brew lounge where you can kick back and listen to music while sipping a cuppa.

The Australian tea drinkers’ palate is improving as they are trading up basic black tea for more premium and loose leaf teas, notes Corinne Smith, co-founder and owner of The Rabbit Hole Organic Tea Bar. Creer, who owns Perfect South Green Tea, said the festival “celebrates what specialty tea in Australia is all about – quality, diversity and creativity. Whether you’re a long term tea fanatic or just starting to dabble with tea, we’ve covered all the bases for you.”

Australians spent $384 million on 7.7 billion cups of tea last year. “Tea is trending in Australia at the moment and the success of last year’s festival is a testament to that,” said Smith.

Sydney Tea Festival
Festival: Carriageworks
245 Wilson St., Eveleigh
Workshops: Yamma Dhiyaan Training Center
255 Wilson St., Eveleigh

Hours: Sunday 9 am – 4 pm

Learn more: www.sydneyteafestival.com.au and for those too distant to make the trip follow the festivities at www.facebook/sydteafestival (Facebook) www.instagram.com/sydteafestival (Instagram) www.twitter.com/sydteafestival (Twitter), and www.youtube.com/sydteafestival (YouTube)

Sydney Tea Festival

Sydney Tea Festival 2014

Dublin Coffee & Tea Festival – Sept. 11-13, 2015

LOGO-Dublin Coffee & Tea FestivalIrish Foodservice Suppliers Alliance (IFSA) and the Speciality Coffee Association of Europe (SCAE- Irish branch) are again hosting the three-day Dublin Coffee & Tea Festival.

The event in the RDS Industries Hall attracts the industry’s leading Irish tea brands, such as Mrs. Doyles Tea Company, Niks Tea and Solaris along with stands from Lily’s Tea Shop, Bewley’s Coffee and Tea Company and Koyu Matcha Green Tea.  The inaugural event drew 5,700 visitors with 93% indicating they would return in 2015.

Dublin is the site of the World Barista Championships in 2016, an event that will bring competitors from 65 countries. With the Irish palate now as sophisticated as our European counterparts, and a vibrant café culture growing all the time, this year’s show features a great mix of exhibitors, education, entertainment and competitions.

Dublin Coffee & Tea Festival - 2014

Dublin Coffee & Tea Festival 2014

These include the SCAE Brew School where visitors will be shown how to use different brewing methods; the National Home Barista Championships; and The Food Village for Artisan food and beverage suppliers whose products compliments the coffee and tea drinking experience. And, following on once again from the success of last year’s show, there will be a series of fringe events with all features open to commercial sponsorship opportunities.


Dublin Coffee & Tea Festival

Industries Hall of the RDS Dublin 4

Hours: Friday, Noon – 7 pm
Saturday, 10 am – 6 pm | Sunday 10 am – 5 pm
Admission: €10.40 (children free)
Three-day pass: €15.40

Learn more: www.dublincoffeefestival.com and for those too distant to make the trip follow the festivities at https://www.facebook.com/dublincoffeeandteafestival  (Facebook) https://twitter.com/DublinCoffeeTea  (Twitter)

Vancouver Tea Festival – Nov. 21, 2015

LOGO-VancouverTeaFestivalThe Vancouver Tea Society (VTS) is a non-profit that previously hosted a 2013 festival on Vancouver Island.  This year the event moves to the Croatian Cultural Centre, East Vancouver.

The 2013 event drew 3,500 attendees.

“Vancouver has assuredly become a city of ‘foodies’ – a city with discerning, diverse, and increasingly sophisticated tastes in food and drink. Until relatively recently, however, tea was something of an afterthought on the Vancouver scene – overshadowed, among other things, by the city’s reputation as a haven for coffee lovers. But no longer,” write organizers. “We at the Vancouver Tea Society believe the time has come to showcase specialty tea in all its splendour to Vancouver, and to British Columbia as a whole.”

VTS hosts bi-monthly tea events including focused tastings and educational sessions. Net proceeds are donated to local charities. “We resolutely believe tea can be a force for tremendous good, and giving back to the city in which we live and work elides perfectly with the social, communitarian ethos that imbues tea culture,” according to VTS, which is managed by a board of five directors active within the local tea industry.

Exhibitors include Thay Tea, Tea Sparrow, O5 Tea, Young Mountain Tea, My Matcha Life, Amoda Tea, Trudy Ann’s Chai, ICHIYO’s Matcha Tea Bar and JusTea. Tables are $450. Email del@vancouverteafestival.ca for LOGO-VancouverTeaSocietydetails.

Vancouver Tea Festival
3250 Commercial Dr., East Vancouver
Hours: Saturday 10 am – 6 pm

Learn more at: http://www.vancouverteafestival.ca and for those too distant to make the trip follow the festivities at https://twitter.com/VanTeaFestival (Twitter) https://instagram.com/vanteasociety/ (Instagram) and https://www.facebook.com/VanTeaSociety (Facebook)

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


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US Tea Growers Competition – Need to Know

Competition announced for US grown tea… American Tea Room hires Tony Gebely to run its online operations…

National Competition for US Tea Growers

Tea farmers in the United States are eligible to enter the first competition designed to showcase US grown teas. A cash price of $1000 will go the top grower in each of four tea categories, juried by an international panel of judges.

Eva Lee, a Hawaii tea farmer and TOTUS awards director, with the Volcano Art Center hosting judging Nov. 4 in Hawaii, thanks to a grant from the Hawaii County Office of Research & Development, cash awards provided by the Hawaii Tea Society, and several contributing agricultural organizations involved in developing the cultivation of tea. The competition will be followed by an exhibition and presentation Nov. 7 at the Volcano Art Center in Hawaii.4.VAC Color Logo where people,art,nature meet LARGE

“I recently returned from Washington DC after talking with representatives on Capitol Hill on the significant development of US grown tea in agriculture and its unique place in family farming,” said Lee, a former head of the Hawaii Tea Society. “The more informed our representatives are on domestic tea production the better assistance they can provide at the county, state and federal level. The TOTUS Awards will raise public awareness and create opportunities for many in tea production nationwide,” she said.

The deadline to enter opens Aug. 1, 2015. Entry forms with payment are due Oct. 16. The last day tea entries will be accepted at the Volcano Art Center is Oct. 26. Teas must be 100% grown in the US with no foreign tea blends, scents or herbals added. Categories include white tea, green tea, oolong tea and black tea. The competition is open to both commercial and non-commercial growers. Commercial growers pay $100 per entry. Non-commercial growers pay $40 per entry. Non-commercial growers are those that produce and sell less than 5 pounds of Camellia sinensis per year. Hobbyists and researchers are also invited to submit 36-gram entries. There is a maximum of three entries per tea type.

LOGO-Hawaii Tea Society“Now that spring harvests have ended and with summer and autumn yields ahead, competitors should take this time to review, experiment and refine tea entries to demonstrate excellence of your skills,” said Lee.

Sponsorships, beginning at $100, are welcome to help underwrite competition expenses, she added.

To learn more visit: www.TOTUS1awards.com

Tony Gebely Joins American Tea Room

Award-winning tea blogger Tony Gebely was named American Tea Room’s director of technology and distribution channels. He starts Aug. 1.  Gebely, a two-time World Tea Award winner for his blog World of Tea (www.WorldofTea.org), has 10 years of experience in digital marketing strategy and business intelligence. He has worked 12 years in the specialty beverage industry and is the founder of Chicago Tea Garden.  He will be responsible for all of American Tea Room’s online presence, including management of the website and social media channels, as well as tea education and hospitality outreach.

Tony Gebely

Tony Gebely

American Tea Room will soon open its second location, a 5,600 sq. ft. space in Los Angeles’ Arts District. The shop features a new open tasting arena and oasis garden tea lounge.

The shop, at 909 S. Santa Fe Avenue, will also house corporate offices for the online business which has grown more than 30% year-over-year since launching in 2006. Once the new spot opens, the company plans to remodel its Beverly Hills location into a contemporary, open concept that will accommodate more customers with indoor and outdoor seating, a more comprehensive food menu, and an expanded retail space. This renovation is expected to be completed by late winter 2016. CEO David Barenholtz plans a third location at Fashion Island in Newport Beach. Construction will begin at that location next week he said.

Learn more at: www.AmericanTeaRoom.com

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Student Designed Infuser Tops $360,000 on Kickstarter – Need to Know

By Nanette Jackson

TEABIZ-AudioIcon2_transparent Click here to listen to the inventors tell their story (15 min).

Three college students in Bellingham, Wash., set out to design an innovative magnetic brewing vessel to flip your world upside-down and throw tea bags into the past.

Now they are raising money to launch this project – lots of money.

TEABIZ_NTK_150615_Imbue-FlipA 30-day Kickstarter campaign that ended last week received $362,679 from 6,248 backers. The team’s initial $20,000 goal was met May 4, the day it launched.

The infuser design was a fund-raising project at Western Washington University created to support the Industrial Design Program.

The Imbue vessel has a magnetized loose-leaf tea holder on the inside of the lid. When you flip the container upside-down, it brews the tea. Once steeped to that perfect shade, you can flip it right side up and remove the magnetic holder to enjoy your drink.

All of the vessels were manufactured on campus utilizing student labor. The inventors used a cylindrical cutting tool to robotically cut out all the lids and then did finish sanding and assembly.

Juniors in the Industrial Design Program Dan Taylor, Leah Cohen-Sapida, and Ashkon Nina are responsible for this new invention.

In December, once they finished developing a prototype, they made 150 vessels and introduced their product to the public.

“Then they sold out, and you couldn’t buy them anymore. We got so much good feedback, and people who wanted more. So we decided we were going to take it further,” Nina said.

TEABIZ_NTK_Imbue Infuser_schematic_closeupThe students then decided to launch a Kickstarter campaign, recording video and publishing schematics. The Kickstarter was meant to bring this product into full production. They’re now working with an overseas manufacturer to produce the infuser in larger quantities and to reach a broader audience, according to Taylor.

The campaign raised 18 times their goal. Donors purchased as many as 10 at a time and it remains unknown exactly how many units have been sold because there were so many different donor packages and so many backers.

The Industrial Design Student Association (IDSA) raises money for the students in the Industrial Design program at WWU. The students plan on giving back a lot of their profits to the association once it is determined how much will be needed for full-scale production costs. They are also working on final modifications and new models.

TEABIZ_NTK_150615_Imbue-MagnetThe team collaborated with a handful of students from the onset, inventing a sustainably produced, practical invention. They said they wanted “something that stood out”

“We looked at a bunch of other tea solutions out there and none of them allowed you to easily get the tea out once it’s done brewing. So you brew it and it just keeps brewing while you’re drinking. That’s the unique thing about this product [is that you can easily remove the tea],” Taylor said.

According to Cohen-Sapida, they researched studies on how long you’re supposed to actually brew tea and they found that it was supposed to be around three minutes. But they recognized there are different steep times for various styles of tea. Everyone likes their tea differently, she said.

“This gives you the opportunity to stop, if you don’t want to keep brewing, you don’t have to,” Cohen-Sapida said.

Currently, the vessels sell for $30 on their website, http://imbuetea.com, and are may be pre-ordered online. According to the Imbue Tea website, shipments should begin around October 2015.

Nanette Jackson is a student at Western Washington University.

TEABIZ_NTK_Imbue Infuser_howitworks

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A Good Omen for Specialty Tea – Need to Know

DavidsTea_LOGOA Good Omen for Specialty Tea

Strip away all the legal filings and investment analysis and what you see in the DAVIDsTEA Initial Public Offering (IPO) today is a positive and persuasive vision of the future of specialty tea retail.

DAVIDsTEA is the latest example of a home-grown venture where the founders, inspired by a love of specialty tea, grew their small shops into a bankable business. Like T2 in Australia, Teaopia in Canada and Teavana in Atlanta, Ga., DAVIDsTEA demonstrated an enviable trajectory from the onset by concentrating on developing innovative herbal blends, loose leaf in packets and selling premium tea online.

In its regulatory filings the company points to 22 consecutive quarters of same store sales growth while constructing 30 new stores a year. DAVIDsTEA is seeking at least $77 million to pay down debt and construct a total of 530 stores. The company reported a $6 million profit on $142 million in sales last year with an annual growth rate of 36%.

Excitement is building for the offering which has been chosen “pick of the week” by several analysts including lead underwriters Goldman Sachs and JPMorgan Chase. DAVIDsTEA upped the initial offering price from $18 to $19 per share Thursday and will likely see a market value vote of confidence of up to $500 million by the end of the week.

Jurgen Link is a pioneer in specialty tea. In 1996 he founded SpecialTeas, Inc. a tea import, wholesale and e-commerce company. In 2005 SpecialTeas merged with leading tea retailer Teavana Corp. (then with 28 stores) to form Teavana Holdings. As president of SpecialTeas and senior vice president of logistics and distribution and Board Member of Teavana Corp., Link lead sourcing, logistics, store distribution and e-commerce fulfillment. He was a member of the executive team during the Teavana IPO and subsequent acquisition by Starbucks.

“In 1996 it was impossible to find special tea in this country,” he recalls. “I grew up in Germany and Germany, like the U.S., is a coffee drinking country but we could always find a tea room with good quality tea in every city of say, 25,000,” he said. That is still not possible in the U.S., said Link.

“That shows me how much more potential we have. What we have available now is merely scratching the surface,” said Link. “Howard Schultz [Starbucks CEO] is right, there is a ‘huge opportunity,’” he added. Retail is changing “but it has not changed enough,” he said. “There needs to be a whole lot more distribution and many, many more outlets, more points of sale and a lot more education,” said Link.

Does DAVIDsTEA hold the key?

“DAVIDsTEA is successfully building a chain of tea stores offering bulk teas, but the jury is still out on the right tea bar or tea room concept,” he explains. “The whole bar/tearoom channel is still in flux because no one has yet discovered a concept that is truly scalable — nobody, anywhere. That does not mean it is not possible,” he said.

“I am very interested to see what Starbucks will do because once the concept is discovered there will be another big surge in growth,” he said. “I think Starbucks has the resources to do it. He [Schultz] needs to invent something that has not been invented,” said Link.

Timing is good for a brisk opening day. DAVIDsTEA reported $35.4 million in sales for the quarter ending May 2, an increase of 28% due in part to an average ticket increase of 7.2%. Comparable store sales grew 6.3% in the quarter. Margins are improving. Rival Teavana, which is twice the size of DAVIDsTEA and benefits from sales at 11,000 Starbucks locations, reported 15% growth in tea sales during the same period.

Click here to see the company’s full financials.

DAVIDsTEA now operates 161 stores. Among those open at least one year, revenue averages $1 million per store. Given the small retail footprint (albeit expensive) and small staff (typically three to five) specialty tea demonstrates a significant return on investment.

Store Count Canada US  Total
2008 1 1
2011 68 2 70
2012 91 14 105
2013 108 16 124
2014 130 24 154
2015* 136 25
*As of May 2015

More important, in the world of beverage retail, scale plays a huge role in profitability. Get the menu right, secure good locations and you can expand, and expand, and expand.

DAVIDsTEA’s biggest opportunity is in the U.S. in cities along the northern border like Chicago as well as the coasts. It operates five stores in Illinois, five stores in New York and one in New Jersey; five in Massachusetts and one in Connecticut with six in California. Its greatest concentration is in the Canadian provinces of Ontario (44), Quebec (25) and British Columbia (25). The company intends to build 30 stores in Canada this year and 15 in the U.S. with a long-term goal of 40 to 50 annually to reach 530 in the next five years. Rival Teavana currently operates 330 stores with plans to build 1,000, according to Starbucks, which acquired the venture in 2012.

Tea retail will not experience the meteoric pace of coffee shop expansion in the 1990s, when Starbucks was opening an average of two stores per day, but growth has been steady, averaging two new chain stores a week in a highly fragmented market. Tea retailing tea is less lucrative than coffee in terms of scale but with better margins. Increasing the DAVIDsTEA price to $19 a share reflects the momentum building behind this offering but keep in mind that shares of Starbucks sell for around $50.

DAVIDsTEA sells 150 different type of tea, introducing 30 annually. Popularity is fleeting for most but innovation stimulates sales. The company earns 68% of its revenue from the sale of loose leaf teas and herbals, mainly packets priced around $8-$12 with 22% of total sales from teaware and utensils. Food and beverage sales account for 10% of revenue. Only 7.9% is from online transactions (2014) which have improved significantly from the 2.7% reported in 2010 but remain below the 10% norm for brick and mortar operations with online offerings. DAVIDsTea predicts this number will rise to 15% of sales with additional investment in the company’s website and online marketing.

In July 2011 Teavana generated $123 million from its initial listing on the NY Stock Exchange. It had 284 stores at the time and was averaging $862,000 in sales per location. The company operated 161 stores in 35 states on the day the IPO was funded and was experiencing nearly identical sales growth that reported by DAVIDsTEA for the quarter preceding the IPO, according to a Goldman Sachs analyst posted to Seeking Alpha.

Will success lead to acquisition? Teavana had better margins than Starbucks at the time it was purchased. DAVIDsTEA reports comparable store growth to that of Starbucks  at seven years of age, according to a cover story published in Specialty Coffee Retailer.

Starbucks has doubled tea sales since introducing Teavana as a replacement for Tazo in its coffee stores. The greatest sales gains are in shaken iced tea and tea lattes. Meanwhile sales of Tazo, now a CPG brand, top $1 billion.

In my view the company will use the IPO money to press its advantage in the U.S. while solidifying its hold in Canada making the Great White North a less desirable expansion target for Teavana (which is eying Asian expansion and growth in the Middle East).

Once the management at DAVIDsTEA demonstrates to the public that the firm has legs to run, expect an inquiry from Unilever which opened its first U.S. tea store in New York last year and its fourth T2 specialty tea shop in London. The Melbourne-based T2 operates 50 stores in Australia. DAVIDsTEA is a good fit for the ambitions of Unilever’s president for refreshment Kevin Havelock. Unilever, owner of Lipton and the world’s largest tea retailer, is a $75 billion company with a growing appetite for specialty tea.

Sylvain Toutant, who has been president and CEO of DAVIDsTEA since 2014 (leaving Keurig Green Mountain as COO of the Canada subsidiary last May), answers to a board of aggressive executives with a history of building companies to sell.

Expansion through franchise partners is another option. Several of Teavana’s overseas stores and those in Mexico are franchised.

Operating a business largely consisting of franchised stores is much different and less profitable than corporate-owned ventures. In a report published by Entrepreneur magazine Franchise Business Review found that “51.5% of food franchises earn profits of less than $50,000 a year; roughly 7% top $250,000, with the average profit for all restaurants coming in at $82,033.”

Tea’s high margins, an exclusive collection of teaware and utensils and services like monthly delivery subscriptions generate sales at a mall location equal to or even greater than franchise chocolatier Godiva – one of the most profitable franchises with 217 locations in the U.S. and 275 overseas.

Godiva generated $765 million at 10,000 locations in 2013 with U.S. retail stores averaging more than $1 million per year. “Each of these stores makes 37% more sales and posts 248% more profits,” since 2008, according to Godiva’s owners. Production capacity of the U.S. factories has increased 73% since the company was acquired for $850 million by Yildiz Holdings, as reported by the Hürriyet Daily News.

The IPO is hot proving bulk tea vendors are an exciting opportunity but if DAVIDsTEA wishes to remain independent and eventually dominate the segment it must also discover the elusive tea bar concept that will scale.

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Tea Biz serves a core audience of beverage professionals in the belief that insightful journalism informs good decision-making in business. 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.

Media Frothing Over Matcha – Need to Know

Starbucks weathered an unprecedented technical failure Friday… Matcha Madness coast-to-coast.

POS Failure

Thousands of company-operated Starbucks locations in the U.S. and Canada experienced a catastrophic POS (point of sale) crash Friday that tested the coffee giant’s spirit of generosity. A momentary outage can be frustrating but with no word on when the system would be restored store managers recognized the opportunity to offer customers free drinks and food. When it became clear repairs would take hours, managers closed the stores. There is no estimate on how much this cost the company in lost sales, but Starbucks serves 54 million people a day. The outage was caused “by an internal failure during a daily system refresh and was not the result of an external breach,” according to the company which worked overnight to repair the system. By Saturday the more than 8,000 Starbucks locations that experienced the failure as well as Teavana and Evolution Fresh locations tied into the POS were open.

Matcha Madness

Soon after the nation’s collegiate basketball frenzy passed newspapers and magazines coast to coast proclaimed “matcha madness” affording tea retailers a great opportunity to generate additional greenbacks from the emerald powder.

The stir dates to late last year when the New York Times  featured the 1000-year-old Japanese tea in an article on Ippodo Tea, an authentic Koyoto establishment that selected New York City as the site of its first store outside Japan. A stream of recipes and blog posts followed. This month TIME Magazine, the Associated Press and, here in Canada, the National Post all devoted major coverage to Westernized adaptations.

TEABIZ150427_MachaCover_D3“Matcha shots were the ‘it beverage’ at New York Fashion Week according to Fast Company which reported “at last month’s New York Fashion Week, models were spotted sipping bright green matcha instead of Red Bull. Matcha is on the menu at eateries across the city: David Chang sprinkles matcha powder on dishes in his tasting menu at Momofuku Ko; Voila Chocolat serves it on top of hot chocolate, while Maman offers a matcha-infused almond latte; you can have it prepared according to the rituals of a Japanese tea ceremony at Cha-an or Ippodo. Williamsburg, naturally, is now host to the nation’s first dedicated matcha cafe, MatchaBar.”

When 300-year-old Ippodo Tea Co. of Kyoto opened in Manhattan in April 2013 it staffed the store with sommeliers trained in the Urasenke tradition of sharing. They eagerly explained and sampled matcha to the curious. Before long the small store front was crowded with afternoon office workers and weekend diners at the Michelin-starred Kajitsu restaurant. Tea drinkers must take their beverage to go as seats are reserved for dinner guests.

The tea bar offers shaken matcha ($3.25) and a matcha slushy ($4.25) along with difficult-to-find Iribancha (a smoky tea originating in Kyoto). The subdued lighting, bamboo counter and merchandise on display reflect the Japanese view that matcha is a ceremonial drink shared quietly to facilitate meditation.

Across the Pacific, Japan hasn’t been immune to the forces of cultural adaptation. “Matcha cake, matcha chocolate, matcha macaroons. Matcha sweets are everywhere,” Kenichi Kano, Ippodo’s international director told the Associated Press. In Japan Ippodo reported annual sales growth of 25%.

MatchaBar is a western interpretation with a mission “to uplift and motivate our community with the power of matcha,” according to founders Graham and Max Fortgang. The Brooklyn shop opened last fall. The website www.matchabarnyc.com promotes the health benefits of matcha’s antioxidants, L-Theanine, catechins and EGCg. A 30-gram tin of classic matcha used in blends sells for $22 and the premium matcha taken “straight” costs $30. MatchaBar offers classes for $85 which includes a starter tin and bamboo whisk (chasen), ceramic holder and bamboo spoon. Shoppers can opt for the convenience of an Aerolatte Electronic Whisk.

Brian Keating, principal at Sage Group in Seattle, published The Matcha Report (www.teareport.com) as a business resource for importers, formulators, chefs and manufacturers who see a big opportunity.

“Over the last 20 years younger generations of Japanese bypassed matcha, replacing it with ready-to-drink carbonated soda, iced teas, coffee, and energy drinks,” explains Keating.

“During this consumption shift within Japan, an eager North American and European specialty tea industry started to import more matcha and the word spread. Creative tea cafes began making concentrated matcha steamed with milk to create ‘matcha lattes,’” said Keating. Starbucks soon caught the wave placing it on menus nationwide where it became a daily habit. Hundreds of firms now offer matcha shakes, smoothies and matcha edibles.

Click this link to see a Teavana sommelier demonstrate the traditional method of preparation.

Keating cautions retailers that “as with any rising star consumer product, cheaper imitators started appearing over the last few years.” Most originate in China as powdered tea that lacks the brilliant green color and sweetness of Japanese matcha.

Beware of “wholesale pricing far below the authentic Japanese matcha,” he said.

Authentic matcha is produced from tea plants shaded for about 10 days before harvest. Leaves develop greater concentration of phytochemicals that deliver better flavor and texture. The finest are hand plucked steamed to halt decay and then dried and aged in cold storage, which deepens the flavor. Stems and veins are removed during drying and the tea is then pulverized in slow moving stone-grinders. The fine powder that emerges is measured in microns. This insures the full benefit of the leaf is ingested.

Matcha has a distinctive, grassy flavor that reminds me of chewing on blades of alfalfa. It is rich in umami a sensation that westerners find appealing in moderation. The tea’s tannins can leave a bitter aftertaste which is why most served in North America is sweetened and blended with milk.

Keating, who has followed the growth of matcha since 2005, believes it will continue to experience fast growth. He documents his reasons in the 64-page The Matcha Report.

“Matcha has yet to reach millions of consumers worldwide. When this untapped multitude begins to respond, a burgeoning specialty tea industry will benefit from the enhanced demand. Prices for authentic Japanese Matcha will inevitably rise — significantly — over the coming years, potentially placing a strain on supplies of the finest, ceremonial, and organic grades of the tea,” he said.

Learn more: www.teareport.com

Correction: Ippodo is located in the Manhattan Borough of New York City, not Williamsburg.

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Tea Biz serves a core audience of beverage professionals in the belief that insightful journalism informs good decision-making in business. 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.

Tazo Transition – Need to Know

Complaints mount as the Tazo transition to Teavana creates shortages… a $600,000 Pu-erhCold tea territoryKumaon tea project funded … U.S. Tea Growers update….

Tazo Transition

Several news reports confirm what online discussion groups have noted for months: the transition from Tazo to Teavana has been bumpy. Grumpy Tazo fans complain they can no longer find their favorites at the chain’s coffee shops while Teavana tea drinkers find their favorites in short supply. Tazo is still available at grocery outlets, natural food stores including Whole Foods and department stores but as of January is no longer sold at Starbucks. Last week

Tazo Tea

Tazo Tea

Aly Weisman at the Business Insider complained about a shortage of any tea at Starbucks. “We’ve already switched over but we’re not receiving the supply to meet the demand,” she reported being told by a Starbucks employee in New York City after asking for tea at three different stores. She settled for a cup of hot water, paying 54 cents.

The $600,000 Cake

Want a slice? A 375-gram cake of century-old Pu-erh is on sale this week from the collection of Six Mountains Tea Ltd., in Vancouver, British Columbia. The tea dates to 1910, according to tea specialist Erick Smithe. In this video he tells The Province, there are only 49 cakes remaining, all part of Kennedy Yeung’s collection. Yeung’s father is one of the foremost collectors of vintage teas, which like fine wines, improve with age. In 2013 a stack of Pu-erh cakes sold for more than $1 million per kilo at a Hong Kong auction. Brewing the first pot would cost around $150,000 Smithe estimates, largely due to depreciation that follows breaking up the cake.

Cold Tea Territory

Even in winter America is cold tea territory. Annual spending is much greater for iced and ready-to-drink teas (62%) but hot tea, driven by the specialty category, continues to grow. In the U.S. last year hot tea accounted for 30% of the $4.2 billion in packaged tea sales reported by Nielsen MarketTrack. The category grew 4% last year largely due to pricing of specialty tea which sells for three times more than commodity tea.

Sales of tea in single-serve capsules are growing in double digits.

In the U.S. upscale and specialty tea accounts for 67.2% of sales compared to 32.8% for traditional black tea, despite the fact that black tea accounts for almost 70% volume by weight, according to Nielsen Scantrack.*

*Nielsen ScanTrack National US All Outlets for the 52 weeks ending Aug. 2, 2014.

 

LOGO-USLTGU.S. Tea Growers Update

The annual gathering of The U.S. League of Tea Growers, led by Jason McDonald, concluded this week with a simple pronouncement: “Can you grow tea in the U.S.? Yes!”

The growers are evolving from hobbyists into commercial specialists whose cutting-edge techniques will likely spread to the vast gardens overseas. Growers with at least 25 plants can join with some now cultivating tens of thousands.

The object is not to produce millions of kilos typical of African, Indian, Malaysian, Vietnamese or Sri Lankan plantations. Instead “the U.S. grown tea movement is driven in part by the increasing market demand for specialty tea and the confidence given to small farm startups created by the ‘Farm to Table’, ‘Artisan’, ‘Buy Local’, and ‘Urban Food’ movements of the past decade,” said League President McDonald who owns The Great Mississippi Tea Company.

“I am pleased with the gaining interest in the U.S. grown tea movement and think that this event gave the movement serious traction and direction going into the inaugural membership drive of the USLTG,” he said.

The conference was attended by agribusiness experts and agronomists “the goal of the Roundup was to bring together farmers and aspiring growers to discuss estate operations, Federal, State, and University resources, and tea crop production issues. There was also an opportunity to network and liaison with various research projects already underway here in the USA, according to McDonald.

Nigel Melican with USLTG members

Nigel Melican (orange) with USLTG members in Brookhaven, Miss.

Growers from as far as Hawaii, Nevada, Michigan and several southern states attended including representatives from Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North and South Carolina, Texas and Tennessee. There are now growers in 17 states.  A highlight of the gathering was visits to select estates and research sites in Texas, Mississippi, and Louisiana. Hosts include the East Texas Tea Company, The Great Mississippi Tea Company and J&D Blueberry Farm. The gathering drew 40 to Brookhaven, Miss., during the five-day event with an additional 10 at the East Texas stop.

“This group was actually a blend of old and new folks. We definitely are attracting new folks to our mailing list weekly and are kicking off a membership drive soon,” said McDonald, who mentioned two attendees from the U.K. including co-founder Nigel Melican of TeaCraft.

“It is exciting to see more people getting interested in growing tea within the U.S.,” Dr. Guihong Bi, Assoc. Research Professor of Plant and Soil Sciences at Mississippi State University, said of the tour. “Contacts that we have made through the USLTG have been invaluable in the development of our research objectives,” he said. USLTG maintains a website (www.usteagrowers.com) a blog and can be found on Facebook.

Sponsors of the event include: Fairhope Tea Plantation (Fairhope, Al), Camellia Shop Nursery, Joy’s Teaspoon and SerendipiTea.

Growers next meet at the World Tea Expo, May 6-8, 2015 in Long Beach, Calif. Learn more at: USLTG

Kumaon Tea Project Funded

Young Mountain Tea this week exceeded its Kickstarter goal ahead of schedule. The campaign has generated $26,000 with 12 days to go. It will be funded March 19. Founder Raj Vable contracted with Avani, a non-profit in the Kumaon region of Uttarakhand, northern India, to grow the bushes need to make white tea. The steep hillsides of the Central Himalayas were first planted in tea by the British who later abandoned the gardens due to challenging logistics.

YMT - Fields

Tea bushes used to make Young Mountain Tea

Avani plants tea bushes in a grid that includes indigo and madder, which are sold as raw material to make natural dye, and with sericulture trees that support silk worms whose cocoons are sold to Earthcraft to make silk. The intercropping is a pioneering type of organic permaculture. The first harvest will be in May and made teas will be available late this year.

Vable visited the region for extended stays and formed the company on his return to the U.S. He carefully planned the funding campaign aligning supporters well in advance. He first described his venture at the World Tea Expo in Long Beach, Calif.

“Participating in the New Business Boot Camp at the World Tea Expo gave us confidence and competency at a time when we needed both,” said Vable. “Equally important, it introduced us to the tea community, a welcoming and supportive group of people dedicated to combining their passion for tea with business.” To learn more: www.youngmountaintea.com.

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The U.S. League of Tea Growers – Need to Know

The U.S. League of Tea Growers is growing… Tea in uncharted territory… a new book on culinary tea…

LOGO-USLTGThe U.S. League of Tea Growers

The League is hosting their annual meeting this week beginning today at the Great Mississippi Tea Company in Brookhaven, Miss. Membership has grown and the organization is electing new officers. The harvest is tiny but owners now plant tea commercially in a dozen states. They may lack volume but these are some of the most technologically advanced growers in the world. The three-day conference includes lectures from university and agricultural extension experts, USDA staff and tea garden tours. Tea-Biz will provide a complete report following the event. Growers next meet at the World Tea Expo, May 6-8, 2015 in Long Beach, Calif. Learn more at: USLTG

Uncharted Tea Territory

Adhiraj “Raj” Vable, founder of Young Mountain Tea, has turned to Kickstarter for support. His first selection is a white tea harvested in the Himalayas on land distant from the traditional high-grown gardens surrounding Darjeeling. The garden is near Beri Nag, India, grown on small plots in the Kumaon region that is still largely unchartered for tea.

Kumoan Region, India

Kumaon Region, Northern India

“We chose to create a new white peony, also known as a Bai Mudan, for two reasons. First, because it’s an incredible tea. One of the world’s most popular white teas, white peony is refreshing, light, and carries a sweetness reminiscent of honeydew melon,” said Vable. The tea is lightly processed, essentially sun dried which reflects the Chinese Bai Mudan style.

“In June 2013, we harvested leaves from tea plants growing wild in Kumaon and processed it as a white peony. We were stunned by what we had, so we moved forward and planted our first acre. And now here we are, a few months away from sharing this gift of the mountains with you!” said Vable.

YMT - Fields

Tea workers harvest the rugged Kumaon terraces

This is an organic permaculture garden. The handmade tea is cultivated with sustainable intercropping practices in the foothills of the Himalayas near the border with Nepal. The region was first planted in tea in the 1820s but the British found it too difficult to transport given the terrain, absence of rail service and unreliable roads. Vable is getting good advice from experienced growers including Indi Khanna, the Nilgiri producer of bouTEAque teas.

Vable has been planning this venture for several years.

“We named our company after the rising Himalayas, a mountain range that is still going up as the Indian subcontinent slams into Asia,” he said

Young Mountain Tea

Young Mountain Tea

He is young, energetic and committed to assisting the Kumaon people who will find work that will help the next generation find reasons to remain in this rugged territory. He discovered the area as a graduate student at the University of Oregon while working with the non-profit group Avani.

In 2013 he returned on a Fulbright Fellowship and negotiated with the Avani to purchase tea grown locally. Young Mountain is seeking $24,000 to fund the first phase of his ambitious plans. The project is nearing $15,000 with 120 backers and a month to go.

To learn more visit www.youngmountaintea.com or Young Mountain’s Kickstarter page.

Tea from Cup to Plate

Raelene Gannon is a tea sommelier, chef and now author of Tea from Cup to Plate, a guide to steeping and cooking with tea. The proprietor of Tea and All its Splendour, an online tea retail site and wholesaler, Gannon developed the recipes during two years of in-the-kitchen experiments drawing on her love of tea and food. Gannon is a certified tea sommelier in Canada, teaches cooking classes in and around Bradford, Ont., and has a great command of the delights of culinary tea (you should taste her delicious tea in chocolate).

Raelene Gannon

Raelene Gannon

Reviewer John Higgins, corporate chef, George Brown Chef School and judge on the Food Network’s Chopped Canada, attests to Raelene’s passion for tea “and with her tea recipes and fabulous tips on how to use tea in cooking, this book is a winner.”

The illustrated text, priced at $29.95, is available now in print or downloadable ebook ($9.95) editions.  Click to order.

Learn more at: www.teaandallitssplendour.com

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Tea Biz serves a core audience of beverage professionals in the belief that insightful journalism informs good decision-making in business. 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.