Need to Know (March 24, 2014)

What tea professionals need to start the week —

New York Coffee & Tea Wraps Up…Tough week at the tea auctions… Third Street Chai breaks into Whole Foods in a big way…New book on Homegrown Tea

 

New York Coffee & Tea Another Sold Out Success

This past weekend New York Coffee & Tea Festival filled the floors of the 69th Regiment Armory on Lexington Ave. in Manhattan. Once again this year the show was sold out well in advance of the weekend, including tickets for a VIP hour Saturday morning that allowed early admittance to those ticket holders. 7,000 attendees were expected.

Sixty exhibitors set up shop across the 25,000 square foot space. A number of presenters, well-known to tea aficionados, were on the festival schedule. Jeni Dodd of Jeni’s Teas and Thomas Shu of ABC Tea presented on Taiwanese teas. Emeric Harney, the creator and manager of Harney & Sons’ Harney SoHo tea cafe, was on the schedule to talk about the people and plants of tea. Judith Krall-Russo prepared a talk on the history of women and tea.

The pairings are always quick to fill up and this year was no exception. L’Espalier’s tea sommelier and author of Culinary Tea, Cynthia Gold, introduced attendees to the art of pairing tea and cheeses. A Gift of Tea’s Jo Johnson talked tea and chocolate and Capital Teas’ Peter Martino explored tea infusions for cocktails. Shu and Dodd teamed up again to talk about finding “harmony” in tea, solving the mystery of the perfect combinations of tea, water, timing, and temperature.

Given the speed of ticket sales and the fact that next year will be the 10th anniversary, you may want to start planning your trip for 2015 now.

Coffee & Tea Fest Philly is scheduled for November 8-9, 2014.

 

Going once, going twice…Not Sold!

It was a tough week at the tea auctions this past week as prices were lower than anticipated. African Tea Brokers reported that Kenya tea prices were low this week with top grade teas, broken pekoes and pekoe fannings all selling for less than the week prior. Nearly 14% of the tea was unsold and more than 17% was unsold the previous week. Pakistan was the big buyer.

Bangladesh saw lower prices also for the sixth week in a row. A glut of poorer quality leaf that remained from the end of the season was blamed. 54% of the tea was left at the end of the sale, topping the 50% that was left at the previous auction. An auction official blamed the quality of tea on offer, citing big demand for high quality tea which seemed to be at short supply.

Things at Coonoor were no better where the Coonoor Tea Trade Association reported that 34% of their tea remained unsold at the end of the auction even at a lower price point than usual.

 

Third Street Chai Releases Ready-to-Drink Tea Line

Boulder, Colo. based Third Street Chai has been selling this spicy tea since 1995, a time when most people had never heard of the stuff. Nearly twenty years later, they’re still in the thick of things. They’ve established themselves as a source of hand-blended chai (blending and milling whole spices for each batch) and claiming the title of the first Fair Trade certified chai. Now they are preparing to release a new ready-to-drink teas at Whole Foods stores nationwide.

Third Street will be selling unsweetened and lightly sweetened black and green teas, incorporating flavors like raspberry, honey and mint. These Fair Trade certified, non-GMO drinks will be sold in 14 ounce containers.

Whole Foods helped make this product a reality by selecting Third Street for one of its Small Producer loans. Their in-house microbrewing and focus on traceability of ingredients made the company stand out.

Source: Food Navigator

 

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Oprah Chai Tea

SLIDES-INNO-Oprah-Schultz
By Peggy Watt

Starbucks has underscored Teavana’s role in the company by teaming with chai-loving icon Oprah Winfrey, who arrived to cheers at Starbucks’ annual shareholders meeting in Seattle March 19 to introduce Teavana Oprah Chai, a custom blend arriving in Teavana and Starbucks stores next month.

A year and a half after Starbucks bought Teavana, Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz is still touting the company’s commitment to tea – “the $90 billion global tea market,” as he told the shareholders several times.

“We’re going to do in the long term for tea what we have done for coffee,” Schultz said, noting that he sought a like-minded partner to promote Starbucks’ refocus on tea.

Starbucks StageThe introduction of Oprah Chai is not only promoting a love of tea, but also reinforces Starbucks’ charitable efforts. (At its annual meeting Schultz emphasized its recent support for veterans’ groups and hiring veterans and veterans’ families.) Because Winfrey is also known for her charitable work, sales of Teavana Oprah Chai will benefit the Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy Foundation, which supports education programs for youth. For every two ounces sold, $1 goes to the charity.

The blend goes on sale April 29 in Teavana and Starbucks stores in the U.S. and Canada. It is described as an infusion of cinnamon, ginger, cardamom and cloves, blended with loose-leaf black tea and rooibos. Winfrey developed the blend with Teavana teaologist Naoko Tsunoda.

Baristas at the meeting offered samples of sweetened and unsweetened varieties to good reception, even for this generally coffee-focused crowd. (Starbucks annual meetings are appreciated for their generous spread of coffees and bakery items – which this year were all from La Boulange, which Starbucks acquired a year ago).
Winfrey and Schultz settled into overstuffed chairs on stage to discuss their deal.

Schultz related that he had observed Winfrey drinking tea at a wedding they both attended. “You didn’t think much of the brand,” she reminded him wryly. He didn’t, and so he sent a sampling of Teavana Chai to her hotel room, which began a conversation that led to her designing Teavana Oprah Chai with the Teavana development team.

“Starbucks is not just a coffee company. It’s about nurturing the human spirit,” Winfrey said. “And that has been my goal in life. This felt like something I really loved and I really cared about and that would be fun to do.” She said she is a longtime chai drinker and welcomed the opportunity to develop her own blend. Teavana Oprah Chai will be served to guests on “Steep your Soul,” a new segment on the OWN Super Soul Sunday show, when guests share their recharge rituals. “I offer them my chai, and they take it whether they like it or not,” Winfrey declared.

Schultz referenced both the common ground of commitments to social causes and having gone through difficult times as businesses. Headlines flashed on the display at the shareholders meeting referenced both lucrative times for Starbucks and the rocky start of the OWN cable network. He said he sought a partner who “loves tea” and “is committed to giving back.”

Oprah ChaiThe packaging is distinctive, too: the canister is an attractive light olive tone with copper lid. The clever box design has an orange base but that same olive-green lid, short enough to show the orange base.

Teavana Oprah Chai will also be featured in a new store design, Teavana Fine Tea + Tea Bars, open now in Seattle and New York and scheduled to open 20 additional locations in the coming year including Chicago, Los Angeles, and New York City.

View the Starbucks product release press announcement here.

For past Tea Biz reports on Teavana/Starbucks, see Oct. 2013 First Look at Teavana Fine Tea Bar (Oct. 2013), Teavana Update (Feb. 2014), and Teavana Founder Andy Mack Leaves Starbucks (Feb. 2014)

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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.