Need to Know | CDC: Restaurant Risk | Retail Stirrings

Need to Know | CDC: Restaurant Risk | Retail Stirrings

Tea Industry News for the week of September 9, 2020

  • COVID Study Implicates Restaurants
  • Retail Stirrings Billy Corgan Resurrects Madame ZuZu’s Tea Emporium
  • Unilever Divestiture Worries Plantation Workers
Patients with COVID-19 symptoms in 10 states were twice as likely to have visited restaurants during the 14 days prior to testing positive, according to a new CDC study.

COVID Study Implicates Restaurants

CDC: Dining-in Poses Risk

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) finds that adults with COVID-19 are about “twice as likely” to say they have dined at a restaurant during the 14 days before testing positive for the disease.

The study, which was limited to those experiencing symptoms, examined 314 adults at 11 different health care facilities in 10 states. Half (154) tested positive, and 160 tested negative for COVID-19.

Those who tested positive “were approximately twice as likely to have reported dining at a restaurant than were those with negative SARS-CoV-2 test results,” according to the study. As a result, researchers recommend that “efforts to reduce possible exposures where mask use and social distancing are difficult to maintain, such as when eating and drinking, should be considered to protect customers, employees, and communities.”

“Adults with confirmed COVID-19 (case-patients) were approximately twice as likely as were control-participants to have reported dining at a restaurant in the 14 days before becoming ill,” according to the CDC. “In addition to dining at a restaurant, case-patients were more likely to report going to a bar/coffee shop,” according to the report released Sept. 11.

“Reports of exposures in restaurants have been linked to air circulation. Direction, ventilation, and intensity of airflow might affect virus transmission, even if social distancing measures and mask use are implemented according to current guidance. Masks cannot be effectively worn while eating and drinking, whereas shopping and numerous other indoor activities do not preclude mask use,” according to the study.

Researchers report that 71% of the COVID-19 positive patients said they work masks in public; 74% of those who tested negative said they always wore face coverings in public.

“In this investigation, participants with and without COVID-19 reported generally similar community exposures, with the exception of going to locations with on-site eating and drinking options,” writes CDC.

Forty-two percent of those who tested positive reported having close contact with at least one person known to have COVID-19, most often family members.

The study mentions five limitations, including small sample size and the fact that participants were aware of their test results. “Of note, the question assessing dining at a restaurant did not distinguish between indoor and outdoor options,” according to researchers, who say additional research is warranted but caution that “eating and drinking on-site at locations might be important risk factors associated with SARS-CoV-2 infection.”

CDC: Community and Close Contact Exposures Associated with COVID-19 Among Symptomatic Adults ≥18 Years in 11 Outpatient Health Care Facilities — United States, July 2020

Billy Corgan Resurrects Madame ZuZu’s Tea Emporium

Madame ZuZu's Tea Emporium
Madame ZuZu’s Tea Emporium

Two years after closing, and in the middle of serious viral spread in Chicago, Billy Corgan is bringing back Madame ZuZu’s Tea Emporium on First Street in Highland Park.

Singer and song writer Corgan, who founded the Grammy-Award winning Smashing Pumpkins, promises “to carry on ZuZu’s tradition of a whimsical atmosphere but in a larger, Art Deco space reminiscent of a 1930’s tea salon.”

Partner Chloe Mendel told Eater Chicago that she and Corgan are sourcing from the Rare Tea Cellar, a local gourmet tea supplier with a global reputation. In addition to superior teas, the cellar offers $195 olive oil and bottled mixes like Umami Shrubbery and Forbidden Forest Lapsang Souchong Syrup.

The avante-garde vegan menu expands on the original, featuring $10.25 salads such as kale power salad, Chinoise crunch and Salad Niçoise. Chloe’s tomato soup is $4.95 a cup and sandwiches sell for $8 to $12. Specialties include grilled vegan cheese and vegan Gado Gado tofu bowl and a miso bowl with pickled veggies and coconut rice.

Madame ZuZu's Grilled Cheese

“I quickly learned that the delicious world of plants is so overlooked,”says Mendel, who crafted several plant-based dishes.s here

Iced tea sells for $3 a glass and a Korean Blue Elektra Matcha is priced at $4.50. There is a Reishi cappuccino and a Lionsmane Mushroom Coffee ($5) on the drink menu. The rare teas are about double these prices.

“Our business model is simple: healthy living combined with an open source venue for the arts, where everyone in our community can gather and share,” writes Corgan, who opened the first location in 2012.

At the time he told Crave Magazine, “I’m a tea guy and living in Highland Park since 2003. I’ve always wanted to open a salon like this for everyone to enjoy,” Corgan told Crave Online. “This is a place with no age boundaries. We hope to attract everyone from young students to seniors. With a blend of music, photo galleries, art displays and speakers, I think Madame ZuZu’s offers something for everyone.”

There will be no impromptu concerts for now. The shop operates under COVID-19 restraints limiting dining-in, so take-out is a good option. Staff are tested for COVID-19 daily, writes Corgan.

Amid hundreds of store closings, a steady trickle of new tea shops and cafes are re-opening. Eater Chicago lists Sawada Coffee, the Living Water Tea House and El (evated) Ideas, a Michelin-starred restaurant. Keep in mind that while tea shops sell a tiny fraction of the total volume on offer, places like Madame ZuZus influence conventional tea drinkers to give specialty teas a try.

Kenyan tea workers concerned about Unilever’s decision to divest its African holdings.

Unilever Divestiture Worries Plantation Workers

The announced divestiture of tea holdings by the world’s largest tea supplier makes uncertain the fate of the company’s wholly owned tea gardens and hundreds of smaller gardens under contract.

In July, following a strategic review begun in January, London-based Unilever said it will break up its tea business, retaining only bottling partnerships while continuing operations in India and Indonesia. The rest of the company’s tea assets, including several tea estates, will be sold at auction.

Click to see and interactive map of Unilever’s suppliers. Download link to suppliers.

Unilever purchases 10% of the world’s tea, employing more than one million workers in 21 countries. Brands currently marketed by the company include Lipton, PG Tips, Brooke Bond, Pure Leaf, TAZO, Bushells, T2 (retail shops), and 21 smaller brands sold in more than 150 countries. Lipton Yellow Label, the world’s best-selling tea brand, accounts for 7% of black tea sales globally. Sales of green tea are insignificant when compared to Asia brands. The tea division is valued at $4-$5 billion, according to financial analysts at Barclays.

Unilever will retain the core brand in high-growth markets and divest in slow-growth regions such as Australia and Europe where the popularity of black tea is in decline, according to Allied Market Research.

In Kenya, 60,000 workers employed by Unilever Tea Kenya Ltd. anticipate a gradual scaling back of operations at the 8,700-hectare Kericho Tea Estate. Staff are uneasy, according to The Nation which reports Unilever “has not yet revealed its plans with its Kenya operations to shareholders, who have endured five years without receiving dividends owing to losses.”

In August Sylvia-ten Den, managing director at Unilever Kenya Tea Ltd. advised the Kenya Agricultural and Plantation Workers Union (KPAWU) “that the company is changing its operation model.”

“She writes that Unilever will form a new company to manage its global tea business, and that the form and shape of the new entity will be decided at the end of next year. She assures that until then operations will proceed as normal,” according to The Nation.

Unilever contracts with 30 Kenya tea estates and the Kenya Tea Development Agency (KTDA) which represents another 69 estates producing black and green tea.

In addition to Kenya, Unilever contracts with tea gardens in Malawi (21), Uganda (13), Tanzania (12), and Zimbabwe (6). It is likely that Unilever will continue to purchase tea grown in Africa but marketed under its India brands. Brooke Bond, which was acquired by Unilever, has a century-old tradition of growing tea in Africa.

The coronavirus pandemic is forcing companies to reassess their core divisions and shift focus to higher-growth areas, say bankers and mergers and acquisitions lawyers, according to MarketWatch.

“So far this year, companies globally have sold 8,895 non-core assets worth a total of $391 billion, according to financial data provider Refinitiv. That compares to 11,294 asset sales worth almost $415 billion for the same period in 2019,” writes MarketWatch.


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Need to Know | Rising Prices | Drenched

Need to Know | Rising Prices | Drenched

Tea Industry News for the week of August 17

  • Rising Prices
  • Heavy Rainfall Wreaks Havoc
  • AVPA Entry Deadline Nears
Tea prices on the rise due to domestic demand and pandemic-related shortfalls. In India the combination is impacting the availability of tea for export.

A shortfall in domestic production amid rising demand is boosting tea prices to record highs in India.

The Tea Board of India is reporting record prices at tea auctions. In Kolkata and Guwahati (Assam) prices are up INRs100 ($1.33/kg compared to last year. The price for CTC (crush, tear, curl), which is mainly used in making tea bags, recently averaged INRs 313.58 ($4.19/kg), up INRs129.99 per kilo.

Prabhat Bezboruah, the chairman of India’s Tea Board, said that a 12% price increase might compensate for the 10% crop loss. Green leaf prices in Tamil Nadu also rose from INRs14-17 to INRs22 ($0.29) in August.

Last week marked the fourth week of price gains in Mombasa, Kenya where the East African Tea Traders Association (EATTA) reports an average Ksh208 ($1.93) compared to Ksh194 ($1.80/kg) the previous week. Unlike India, where production has declined significantly, tea production is up 41% in Kenya due to good weather but is likely to plateau for the remainder of the year. Exports to primary trading partner Pakistan are up 14% and the UK purchased 66% more Kenyan tea than usual as a result of shortages elsewhere.

In Japan, the newspaper Chunichi Shimbun reported record low prices for Kagoshima Nibancha. Sales by global tea firm Ito En, the largest tea company in Japan, decreased by 8.5% from February through April due to the coronavirus.

“Tea auctions both in Shizuoka and Kagoshima declared that the price for second harvest tea was lower compared to last year. In Shizuoka, it is estimated that the price per kilogram for summer tea went down by 10-15% from JPY609/kg in 2019. In Kagoshima, the decrease is even steeper by 26% to JPY452/kg this year,” according to the Global Japanese Tea Association.

Over the past decade, tea prices have ranged from a low of $2.19/kg in January 2009 to a high of $3.29/kg in September 2017, but the long-run average price has stood at $2.85/kg, according to the Economist Economic Unit (EIU).

“Last year tea prices fell to $2.57/kg globally, due to ample supply, marking the weakest result since 2008. Although production prospects in most major tea producers are disappointing in 2020, weaker demand growth is likely to depress prices further,” according to EIU. Prices fell to $2.33/kg in the first quarter of 2020, which marked the weakest quarterly result in 11 years. “Although they rebounded to $2.57/kg in the second quarter, they remain 3% below year-earlier levels. We expect tea prices to average $2.50/kg in 2020. Even assuming that underlying conditions improve in 2021, we expect only a moderate rise in average prices, to $2.81/kg,” writes EIU.

Sri Lanka also reports increased prices at auction with some record-setting buys, defying on first appearance the rules of supply and demand.

Controversial Import Proposal

As domestic prices surge, India is weighing the possibility of importing tea from Kenya and Vietnam. The government currently imposes a 100% tariff on tea imports which discourages imports.

If the initiative advances, The Federation of All India Tea Traders Association (FAITTA) said that importing teas will be a one-time affair and that it will not push for imports in the coming years, according to a report in the Economic Times. FAITTA wants a one-year relaxation of tea tariffs.

FAITTA chairman Viren Shah said, “Prices have gone up significantly this year due to a shortage of supply. But we are not being able to pass on the price to our customers because the economic situation in the country is not conducive to increasing prices. The pandemic has created economic uncertainty everywhere.” 

The debate is heated. Tea landed in India to this point is for re-export, which is not available in domestic markets where it competes with locally grown tea. Re-exports total only 9-10 million kilos annually. Planters, represented by the India Tea Association (ITA), strongly oppose lowering tariffs even for a limited time.

“We will move the commerce ministry with a request to stop the import of cheap teas if the traders try to do so,” said Vivek Goenka, chairman, ITA.

The price of CTC tea has increased by 48% year-on-year making imports less expensive than domestic teas. Even with a 100% duty, imported Kenyan tea at $1.84 per kilo or Vietnamese tea at $1.50 per kilo would be less expensive than the average INRs305 ($4.07) per kilo paid for CTC at the Kolkata Tea Auction.

India consumers purchase 1,100 million kilos annually. Much of this tea is from Assam and West Bengal where production is down 30% during the period January-July. Ultimately imports may be unavoidable as teas from overseas would stabilize domestic prices.

Drenched

Annual mean anomaly predictions for 2020 relative to 1981-2010. Ensemble mean (left column) and the probability of above-average (right column). As this is a two-category forecast, the probability for below-average is one minus the probability shown in the right column. Grpahics: World Meteorological Organization.

Monsoons annually claim the lives of many tea workers and cause hundreds of millions in property damage. Ten days ago, 43 died in a mudslide that swept tea workers away in their sleep at the Kannan Devan Hills Plantations (KDHP) in Munnar, South India. Rescuers dug for two days but found no additional survivors amid the 20 homes that were lost. The garden employs 12,500 workers.

In Kerala, lowland floods claimed additional lives. This spring India’s tea production fell 26.4% compared to last year due to a combination of flooding and coronavirus lockdowns. Assam gardens reported serious flooding in May, June, and July which is the top tea producing month.

Indian Tea Association Secretary Sujit Patra, told Reuters that a recovery in crop totals was unlikely in the second half of the year. The shortfall has caused auction prices to rise up to a record average of IRNs232.60 ($3.12) per kilo last week, up 57% compared to the same period in 2019.

This week in Yunnan China, 14 died and 20 are still missing following flash floods caused by Typhoon Higos. Landslides killed five. The storm forced the relocation of 34,900 residents and affected 1.1 million people, causing at least $450 million in damage, according to China.Org. After an extended drought, rainfall averages are up 12.5% year-on-year. Across China 200 have died in weather-related incidents this year which have caused $25 billion in losses.

In July the Japanese island of Kyushu suffered severe flooding that damaged several tea farms. Production is down overall, in Shizuoka the normal harvest decreased by 20-30% from 7,616 metric tons in 2019, and likely will be the lowest since 1953, when the first of such data became available.

The World Meteorological Organization (WMO) predicts “high latitude regions and the Sahel* are likely to be wetter than the recent past whereas northern and eastern parts of South America are likely to be dryer” during the period 2020-2024.

“Most of Eurasia, eastern USA and central Africa have been wetter than average, with southern Africa, eastern Australia, Indonesia, north-east Brazil, and western Europe drier than average,” according to WMO’s five-year forecast.

“The annual global temperature is likely to be at least 1°C warmer than pre-industrial levels (defined as the 1850-1900 average) in each of the coming 5 years and is very likely to be within the range 0.91 – 1.59°C,” according to WMO.

“The smallest temperature change is expected in the tropics and in the mid-latitudes of the Southern Hemisphere,” according to WMO, but “it is likely (~70% chance) that one or more months during the next 5 years will be at least 1.5°C warmer than pre-industrial levels.

Click here to download WMO’s 16-page global weather update.

*The Sahel is the 1000-mile wide ecoclimatic and biogeographic zone of transition in Africa between the Sahara to the north and the Sudanian savanna to the south. Having a semi-arid climate, it stretches across the south-central latitudes of Northern Africa between the Atlantic Ocean and the Red Sea.

AVPA Teas of the World Competition

The deadline to enter the third annual Teas of the World competition, conducted by the Agency for the Valuation of Agricultural Products (AVPA) is Sept. 15, 2020. Prizes will be awarded Nov. 16 in Paris, France

The competition is open to producers who benefit from recognition of their exceptional quality, helps producers stand out from others growing and processing tea, and encourages producers to explore new tea markets.

The competition consists of “Monovarietal teas.” a category limited to Camellia Sinensis and “Infusions” which include beverages made with plants other than Camellia Sinensis including blends and favored teas.

Download the AVPA Monovarietal registration form.

Download the AVPA Infusions registration form.

Judges evaluate gastronomic rather than standardized refereeing, seeking a striking rather than consensual sensory profile. “This is the first time that an independent body in a consumer country promotes the good practices of production and trade actors,” writes AVPA.

Fees are €110 for individual producers, €550 for other tea professionals and €1,500 for collective organizations.

Click here to review contest rules.
Click here to see who won the 2019 competition.

AVPA is a non-governmental, non-profit organization of producers and enthusiasts. The organization annually conducts four international contests in addition to evaluating tea. These include “Coffees roasted at Origin”, “Chocolates pressed at Origin” and “World Edible Oils.”


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Need to Know | Over the Cliff | Elemental Exam

Need to Know | Over the Cliff | Elemental Exam

Tea Industry News for the week of July 27

  • Over the Cliff
  • World Tea Expo Goes Virtual
  • Made in America
  • DMCC Expansion Plans
  • Measuring Elements in Tea
Historic contraction follows 23 quarters of economic growth as high unemployment and rising infections make a long recovery likely.

Over the Cliff

Few tea ventures deployed parachutes capable of breaking the fall as the world’s economies catapulted over the second quarter cliff.

The result is the permanent closure of hundreds of high-profile tea locations in malls and tourist destinations as well as beloved Mainstreet independents like the 10-year-old Wenham Tea House in Massachusetts and 27-year-old Lucy’s Coffee & Tea in Birmingham, Ala.

The Samovar Tea Lounge’s three San Francisco locations are “hibernating” for an unspecified time and the Floating Mountain Tea House will relocate from New York’s upper west side to Croton-on-Hudson upstate. Restaurants that featured fine tea, including Augustine in New York’s Beekman hotel, Vaucluse on Park Avenue and “even the glitzy McDonald’s flagship store off Times Square closed,” according to a list maintained by Eater New York. In July DAVIDsTEA permanently shuttered 213 locations including 42 in the U.S. leaving only 18 in Canada.

The U.S. experienced a record 9.5% drop in economic output, that if left unchecked before the year ends could lead to an unprecedented 32.9% annualized decline in GDP. Europe experienced a 12.1% decline, its worst contraction on record. Canada, which has suffered many fewer infections and COVID-19 deaths than the EU and US, estimates its economic activity will decline 12%, according to Statistics Canada. Retail sales in all the Western countries signal a deep recession with several segments, including food service, plummeting from the end of March and continuing their decline through April. Retail rallies began in May except in the U.S. where a new surge of infections led to a loss of steam by July.

The descent was especially rapid and painful in the U.S. It is difficult to get precise numbers on sales of tea in retail channels. Grocery sales figures are generally good as millions of customers that purchased tea at restaurants and cafes now brew at home. Online sales spiked last spring but are flattening. The tea shop category mirrors the fate that has befallen small independently owned cafes and bars with some segments such as Sunday afternoon tea in tony hotels and at cozy Victorian tearooms located in southern tourist towns virtually annihilated.

“Afternoon tea was devastated in the U.S. in particular—most of those businesses didn’t have a way to pivot online or offer tea-to-go,” writes Abraham Rowe, founder of Sinensis Research in Washington, D.C. Rowe observes that online sales proved to be a lifesaver, “people were loyal to some local shops, and are now shopping online from them.”

“Store closures are down a bit—I don’t have final figures, but hope to run another survey sometime to finalize it,” said Rowe.

As brick and mortar sales at tea merchants slipped over the precipice, online sales increased but not uniformly. An updraft enabled Amazon to glide to the bottom with a year-over-year increase of 34% in tea sales, totaling $29 million for the 52 weeks ending in May, according to Hinge Global. Walmart generated an unexpected $4 billion during the first quarter, up 4% over the same period compared to the previous year. The company announced it intends to become a “omnichannel” business. During the past year Walmart consolidated its online and physical store operations and is focused on expanding e-commerce rather than building new stores.

Amazon and Walmart are the exceptions amid a pandemic that devastated the retail sector. While customers ordered groceries online and had food delivered, very few tea ventures had time to deploy a Plan B. DAVIDsTEA, headquartered in Montreal, Canada, in March closed 231 locations eliminating $12.1 million in second quarter sales. Sales for the three months ended May 2 declined 27.3% to $32.2 million. Wholesale and online revenue climbed $9.3 million to $17.0 million. Online sales reflect the trend identified by Rowe at Sinensis Research: specialty tea buyers online remain loyal to their local tea shop whether in a mall or downtown.

“Sales in grocery stores and pharmacies across Canada continues solid growth,” according to Frank Zitella, who is both CFO and COO at DAVIDsTEA. He wrote in a July 31 earnings report that “with first quarter sales growth of over 120% year-over-year, we are extremely pleased that our loyal tea-loving customers have shifted to buying our teas online, and in supermarkets and drugstores. The strong performance of these sales channels provided us with the confidence that we are on the right path for the future.”

See: DAVIDsTEA Reorganizes for additional detail.

Calls to wholesalers confirm that while online sales have eased the painful loss of tea house closures, declining monthly orders from restaurants and hotels resulted in orders that are no where near pre-pandemic norms. The collapse of restaurant dining, which accounts for 20% of tea sales globally, is the biggest cause. Some 2.2 million restaurants worldwide are not expected to survive through 2020. Closings have a greater impact on coffee sales in the U.S. but in tea drinking nations like the UK and Russia the shift from away-from-home to at-home preparation has been significant.

McKinsey Small Business Forecast

“In a muted recovery, it could take more than five years for the most affected sectors to get back to 2019-level contributions to GDP,” according to McKinsey & Company. Small businesses, which are hard hit due to lower margins and limited reserves, constitute 68% of the food services and accommodations sector and are not expected to recover before the first quarter 2024 stretching into 2025. Arts, entertainment and recreation sectors will take even longer, according to U.S. Small Business Recovery After the COVID-19 Crisis.

“After the 2008 recession, larger companies recovered to their pre-crisis contribution to GDP in an average of four years, while smaller ones took an average of six,” writes McKinsey Global Institute.

“Improving operations and adapting business models can help small businesses in many industries recover,” observes McKinsey, but muted demand, operational challenges due to health and safety restrictions and new customer expectations all take time: “Finding the cash to do so may be a stretch.”

Working capital is often tied up in inventory and small businesses have added cost servicing their debt. A McKinsey survey of 1000 small firms finds the cost of servicing debt averages 30% of revenue. The shift to off-premise delivery and carryout “is likely to erode profitability and increase packaging costs and hinder their ability to sell high-margin items.” McKinsey found that nearly 40% of small businesses in the restaurant sector operate at a loss or break-even.

Solutions suggested in the report involve technology and marketing.

“Independent restaurants might digitize their businesses by using aggregators to increase their visibility, reach potential diners, and outsource their delivery,” write McKinsey authors Andre Dua, Deepa Mahajan, Lucienne Oyer and Sree Ramaswamy.

“Aggregators might help by offering additional on-boarding support or spotlighting small, independent restaurants on their platforms. Some combination of public and private aid may also be necessary for small restaurants, especially offering technical and financial support they’ll need to compete with larger ones that can build contact-less solutions at scale,” according to the report.

“The crisis has exposed financial frailties that have built over time, and the next normal could impose additional burdens,” according to the authors, who add, “The survival of US small businesses across the economy will require new business models and technology solutions that few have the resources to finance.”

World Tea Hosts Virtual Summit

Organizers of the World Tea Expo this week announced a virtual summit scheduled for the second week of October.

The World Tea Conference + Expo was postponed from June 14-16 to October. It was later canceled due to restrictions on events drawing large crowds to the Colorado Convention Center, in Denver Colo.

The World Tea Virtual Summit + Resources is scheduled for October 12-14.

“The virtual summit will introduce online networking and lead generation,” according to Questex, organizers of the event. Guests include Sebastian Michaelis, head of tea at Tata Global Beverages; Peter Goggi, president of the Tea Association of the USA, and Tony Tellin, co-founder of A. Tellin Co.

The agenda of three half days offers an opportunity to “learn from peers, share ideas, network virtually and safely, and support one another as we continue the shared journey through COVID.”

The next live, in-person event is scheduled for July 14-16, 2021.

Learn more: World Tea Conference + Expo

Made in America

Great quantities of tea are blended in America but according to the Made in America Act, a product manufactured in the US that claims to be American made, must contain at least 50% US ingredients.

A Lexology post this week discusses a class action suit “that calls out Bigelow Tea for pushing unpatriotic tea.”

The post summarizes a report by Linda Goldstein and Amy Ralph Mudge with the Washington D.C. based law firm Baker & Hostetler.

The complaint, filed in California’s Central District Court, by Kimberly Banks and Carol Cantwell, alleges that by promoting their tea as “Manufactured in the USA 100% American family owned” and “America’s classic” Bigelow violates provisions of the California Consumer Legal Remedies Act, False Advertising Law, Unfair Competition Law, and Breach of Express and Implied Warranty.

Plaintiffs allege themselves and other consumers, “purchased the Bigelow Tea products because they reasonably believed, based on the packaging and advertising, that these products are American-made. However, the products are comprised solely of foreign-sourced and processed tea.”

Had plaintiffs known the truth “they would have paid less for them or they would not have purchased them at all,” reads the complaint.

Bigelow Tea responded Friday with the following statement: “Bigelow unequivocally disputes the allegations in this California based lawsuit.”

“Every box with our statement of being “Manufactured in the USA” refers to the fact these teas are produced and distributed by one of our three Bigelow owned and operated manufacturing facilities, located in Connecticut, Kentucky, and Idaho.  In addition, our packaging clearly states that our teas are “Blended and Packaged in the USA”.  Bigelow continues to be open and transparent about our global sourcing of ingredients (many of which come from the United States) on both our website and the packaging of select varieties of our teas.”

“Frivolous lawsuits such as these are designed to purposefully damage the reputation and finances of the companies they target. Bigelow Tea is proud to be a 100% American family owned and operated manufacturing company and we are prepared to vigorously defend ourselves against this meritless lawsuit,” writes Bigelow.

While Bigelow owns the largest US tea farm, The Charleston Tea Garden, located in Charleston, South Carolina, the tea garden markets its tea under its own brand. The plantation website makes it clear that “Bigelow Teas are not made from any of the tea leaves grown or harvested here at the Charleston Tea Garden. Charleston Tea Garden teas are the only teas made from the tea leaves produced by the Camellia Sinensis plants grown in the fields of the Charleston Tea Garden.”

DMCC Expansion Plans

UAE Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai Sheikh Mohammed tours DMCC’s tea and coffee centers. Photo courtesy DMCC.

Fifteen years ago, Ahmed Bin Sulayem, executive chairman and chief executive officer of Dubai’s Multi Commodity Centre (DMCC) envisioned a tea trading hub that would service the world’s largest growing regions.

Today DMCC processes 48,000 metric tons of tea annually, accounting for 60% of global re-exports. The facility has processed 320 million kilos since its inception. The modern port facilities and airfreight capability attracted 800 new companies during the first half of 2020, said Bin Sulayem, adding that the months of May and June saw a “noticeable uptick despite an overall softer business climate.”

The tea center and atmospheric-controlled warehouse, which stores 5,000 metric tons, has a turnover of $184 million annually.

Commodity teas from 13 origins are blended for consistency and these blends, are often mixed to make herbal, floral inclusions sold as some of the world’s most popular teas. Examples include Earl Grey and the many breakfast blends distinct to markets in Ireland, Scotland, and England. Classic brands processed include Lipton and Red Rose as well as local blenders such as Tea Trading International DMCC, a Dubai-based British SME that markets brands Vertea and The Leaf to food-service catering, hotel, and resort customers.

DMCC’s tea and its new coffee center drew the attention recently of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE, during a visit reported by Gulf Today.

“Under the guidance of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, DMCC is fast becoming the global hub for the tea and coffee industry. Our ambitious plans to triple our capacity in the near future are strategically anchored in Dubai’s drive and ability to facilitate world trade,” said Bin Sulayem.

In a release by Arjun Katyal, of McLeod Russel Middle East DMCC, said, “The DMCC’s expansion plans are incredibly exciting, and represent a huge boost to Dubai’s status as a leading global trade hub. We have been a DMCC Tea Centre member since 2011, and have seen, first-hand, the expertise, experience and vision that has shaped the success of this facility. McLeod Russel Middle East DMCC has its sights set on continued growth, and we will continue to engage new markets and reach a wider customer base than ever before. The DMCC Tea Centre has an important role to play in our success story, and we congratulate them on their latest announcement.”

Since 2005 DMCC has become one of the fastest growing free zones in the world with more than 17,000 companies conducting business in a number of sectors including precious metals, tea and coffee, and food commodities. Establishments and individuals operating in DMCC are exempt from all taxes including income tax, for a period of 50 years.

Testing tea for trace elements

Measuring Elements in Tea

Minerals are essential to the heath of tea plants and for tea drinkers to experience the full range of tea flavor, but too much of even the best of things in life can create problems.

Researchers Dr. Ying Guo, Dr. Seungjin Lee, and Dr. Tae Lee at Georgia Gwinnett College are currently engaged in testing five commonly available tea brands using a handheld Laser Induced Breakdown Spectroscopy (LIBS) unit manufactured by SciAps. The Z-300 analyzer detects very low concentrations of mineral and potentially harmful heavy elements.

The team, whose lab work is temporarily suspended during the pandemic, detected all of the following minerals and alkali metals (Cs, K, Li, Na) in five popular tea brands. The three most common minerals were carbon, calcium, and magnesium in all five samples. Several heavy metals were also present in all five samples including Cd and Cr which are toxic in very low concentrations.

“(Before the shutdown), we obtained the spectra of tea samples and were able to qualitatively determine the elements present,” Guo says. The next step will be to calibrate and complete the quantitative analysis, she says.

ElementDaily Intake Thresholds
Al (Aluminum)0.10–0.12 mg Al/kg/day for adult
C (Carbon)None
Ca (Calcium)1300 mg/day [harmful > 1500 mg/day]
Cd (Cadmium)FAO/WHO rules limit Cd to 0.2 mg/kg
Cr (Chromium)120 µg/day [harmful > 200 µg/dan
K (Potassium)4700 mg/day [harm depends on weight]*
Li (Lithium)Lithium toxicity level is 1.5 mEq/L
Mg (Magnesium)320-420 mg/day (varies with age)
Na (Sodium)Less than 2300 mg/day
P (Phosphorus)1000 mg/day [harmful > 250 mg]
Si (Silicon)Elemental silicon is an inert material
Source: US FDA and National Institute of Health

Researchers pelletized tea grains from each brand and measured the intensities of emission spectra at different wavelengths to determine the presence of elements of interest in the samples. Results were validated by inductively coupled plasma mass spectroscopy.

Analyzer manufacturer SciAps notes that “minerals play an important role in maintaining the human body. For example, Ca helps with the functions of muscle contraction, enzyme activity, healthy bones and teeth, blood clotting, transmission of nerve impulses, and regulating heartbeat. K can help reduce risks for certain diseases such as stroke, kidney stones, and hypertension. Even though those are beneficial elements to the human body, there is still a suggested daily intake limit.”

Dr. Ying Guo

The article states that “additionally, tea may be contaminated by heavy metals, “either as a result of uptake from soil or from atmospheric dispersion due to vehicular or human activities,” according to Guo. This is what led them to investigate the levels of both the beneficial minerals

(e.g., potassium and calcium) and unwanted contaminant elements (e.g., cadmium and chromium) present in different tea brands. Heavy metals can be highly toxic even at a very low concentration. LIBS was able to detect the presence of these metals in all five samples.

The following table lists the quantities of each element by relative abundance for each tea brand.

Table courtesy Dr. Ying Guo, Georgia Gwinnett College

The research has not been published, but once reviewed, “By comparing with recommended daily intake limits and reference dose, we’ll be able to provide insights on daily consumption limits of tea in order to avoid too much intake of toxic elements,” says Guo.

[Editor’s Note: Tea Biz will follow up once the research is published]

Reversal Forces New Lockdowns

After flattening the COVID curve in April and May it began sloping upward in June in the U.S. while Europe continued to suppress spread of the coronavirus. July has since become the worst month on record for COVID spread with 1.9 million new infections and 1,000 deaths per day, bringing the U.S. total to 4.5 million who have tested positive. The virus is now present in populations young and old in every state with infections rising in more than half the U.S. states. Globally there are more than 18 million cases with deaths approaching 700,000. About 6% of those who have tested positive perished. On a hopeful note, 94% (11 million) have recovered. The U.S. continues to lead country totals but Brazil (2.7 million) and India (1.8 million) are hot spots. The UK, Spain, Peru and Chile experienced death rates greater than 500 per 1 million population. More than 250,000 have died with a high of 6,900 per day in April that dipped for about a month before moving seven-day average of 5,600 globally in July.


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Need to Know | Drink Plants | Enshi Floods

Need to Know | Drink Plants | Enshi Floods

Tea Industry News for the week of July 20

  • Drink Plants
  • Tea Outlook Promising
  • New Teatulia Tea CEO
  • Enshi Floods
  • Bigelow Wellness
An all-plant tea assortment of green and black tea, floral, fruit, and berry botanicals.

Drink Plants

“Consumers across all generations are re-shaping the landscape for beverage product development,” according to a Cargill Insights Report titled Blending, Brewing, and Blurring the Lines… Creating a New Breed of Beverages.

“Traditional beverage categorizations are losing relevance, which is blurring the lines of classic categories and creating opportunities—especially for coffee and tea manufacturers—to meet these demands at the expense of soft drinks,” Cargill writes.

Tea is the go-to beverage in the nonalcoholic market which is estimated at $854 billion globally. Euromonitor estimates the value of RTD (ready-to-drink) tea at $67 billion globally.

“Beverages that are inherently functional have seen growing momentum, which has paved the way for new beverage products touting specific health benefits, according to The Hartman Group’s report, “Modern Beverage Culture.” Consumers are increasingly conscious of beverage calories, and they now want a drink to do more—such as provide energy, added protein, or provide other nutritional benefits,” according to the Insights Report.

“Millennials are the poster children of this new beverage era. Their demands and aspirations are driving much of this emerging beverage culture,” according to The Hartman Group. A consumer survey by Hartman reveals “nearly three in four millennials (73%) always have a beverage on hand, compared to Gen Xers (63%) and Boomer (58%).”

Cargill Report: Note the desire for more tea (22%)

“Millennials say that beverages play an important role in their health and wellness and that they like beverages to do something such as provide energy or nutrients,” according to Cargill. “The win-win may be to address consumers’ changing and variable aspirations for beverage consumption with new drinks that mix both function and fun (think tea-beer combos or hard kombucha). These products will likely see a growing appeal, especially among younger consumers,” according to Cargill.

“More than half of consumers are now using products made with plant-based ingredients, and this trend is only going to increase,” according to Cargill. “Powerhouse beverage categories like coffee and tea are leading the way by working to provide new consumption options while addressing health and wellness trends. Coffee and tea have existing health halos; they have been able to capitalize on this to support the creation of healthier energy drinks, while also serving as a better-for-you flavoring or mixer in high-end cocktails.”

Tea on Trend

Non-alcoholic beverages will generate $10 billion more in sales this year, reaching $160 billion, according to market research contained in The U.S. Beverage Market Outlook 2020.

Proprietory surveys by Packaged Facts show significant changes in retail channel trends and consumer motivations across eight retail channels.

“Despite the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic, large segments of the U.S. food and beverage industry have managed to balance losses in the foodservice sector with gains on the retail side as consumers even now continue to shift their food and beverage spending from restaurants to stocking groceries at home,” according to Packaged Facts.

“We predict sales will spike in 2020 due to the impact of the coronavirus but will likely decline in 2021 as demand reverts back to more normal levels before returning to typical growth patterns from 2022 to 2024,” says Jennifer Mapes-Christ, food industry publisher for Packaged Facts. The study predicts US nonalcoholic beverage sales of $170 billion in 2024.

Plant-Based Beverages are Trending

Plant-based beverages are a hot trend in the market as consumers increasingly integrate plant-based foods and drinks into their diets, according to Packaged Facts.

What’s driving new interest in the segment:

― consumer demand for healthier, natural products

― consumer demand for more and better protein sources

― the consumer perception that plant-based food is more environmentally sustainable

― the increasing number of people who identify as flexitarians, consuming more vegetarian or vegan meals but not exclusively eating that way

The report also cites the popularity of functional and wellness beverages, specifically tea.

“As with all food categories, consumers are demanding more from beverages. Beyond reduced sugar and cleaner labels, people want drinks to make them feel better, stay healthier, and perform at higher levels. The coronavirus pandemic has further elevated people’s desire for products that help keep them healthy. Immunity-boosting products and ingredients had been trending over the last several years already and have been jumping off the shelves as people look to stay healthy amidst the coronavirus pandemic,” according to the report.

“Turmeric has been perhaps the hottest ingredient to boost immunity and is a cornerstone of many new products, along with ingredients such as ginger and Echinacea. Beyond these, marketers continue to enhance drink functionality with ingredients such as antioxidants, adaptogens, vitamins, probiotics, Coenzyme Q10, and BCAAs (branched-chain amino acids),” according to the report.

Click here to obtain a copy.

Teatulia Names New CEO

Co-founder Linda Appel Lipsius is stepping down as CEO of Teatulia Organic Teas. COO Tim Bradley will take her place.

Denver-based Teatulia, founded in 2006, partners with growers in Bangladesh to supply organic teas and herbs used in making a range of hot teas, iced teas, and canned teas, including a newly introduced sparkling soda sold in foodservice and grocery.

The company also operates the Teatulia Tea & Coffee Bar next to its Denver, Colo., headquarters.

“Lipsius has built a universally-respected brand known for doing things better: From the 3,000-acre regenerative garden itself to Teatulia’s stunningly sustainable packaging to the long list of awards Teatulia has received for quality and using business as a force for good,” according to the company.

Bradley previously worked 10 years as COO at Open Road Snacks in Centennial, Colo. He joined Teatulia in July 2017. A former consultant, he is endorsed for his work in sales and marketing and brand management.

“We are grateful beyond words for her contributions over her many years at the helm, and excited to foster the mission and continue the growth Linda nurtured as founder and CEO,” writes Bradley.

“Linda and I have worked together for the last three years to create a team that is truly positioned to take this company to new heights,” he said.

Lipsius credited “a mighty team of the most passionate, creative, tenacious and intelligent individuals I have ever known” for the company’s success during her tenture, as well as “my most extraordinary partners throughout the journey – Kazi Anis Ahmed, Kazi Inam Ahmed, and Kazi Nabil Ahmed MP.”

Submerged street buses in Enshi, China. Massive flooding eases Chinese drought.

Too Much Rain Relief

The tea-growing region drained by the Lancang (Mekong) River is humid, with annual rainfall greater than 800 millimeters annually, yet a 10-year drought persists. Last year the region received 888.4 millimeters of rainfall according to meteorologists, but 180 reservoirs remain bone dry and 100 rivers ceased flowing as of April 15, according to the Yunnan Water Resource Department.

Near constant rainfall since the beginning of the month promises relief but at a high cost. On July 3 Kunming was drenched, leading to several deaths, and the displacement of thousands as well as significant crop loss along the Baishui river (which rose 27-feet overnight).

Enshi, the center of tea production in Hubei Province, has seen the worst flooding in decades with 10,000 along the Yangtze River trapped in their homes. Damage is estimated at $11.5 billion with 28,000 homes lost. The water level at the Three Gorges Dam, the world’s largest hydroelectric facility, is 50 feet above its flood-limit level with inflows of 61 million liters a second, according to the Xinhua News Agency.

Yunnan, which is home to 46 million people, sits on a rugged mountainous plateau sloping from the northern highlands south. During the period 1950 to 2012, the Province, experienced 59 drought years, half considered severe.

Droughts have occurred more frequently in recent years, a condition attributed to global climate change. More than 80% of Yunnan’s rainfall now occurs during the period of May through October. Winters are dry and getting warmer. There is insufficient capacity in reservoirs to supply agricultural needs during periods of unusually high temperatures. The drought, which began in June 2019 resulted in shortages of drinking water in Menghai County and lowered yields of Pu’er by a third according to some growers.

In past years the north and eastern sections of the province were more susceptible to dry weather. Now the tea-rich hills in the southwest are hardest hit. Annual precipitation in the Lancang River basin in 2019 was 680.4 mm, according to the China Meteorological Agency. The total is about 25% less than its long-term average, according to a report by CGTN.

A studio published in the journal Ambio reveals that during the period 1978-1996, cultivated land increased 6.1% (167,400 hectares) in Yunnan. A report describing the impact of droughts on reservoirs and streamflow found the frequency of severe and exceptional droughts in the Lancang-Mekong River Basin has increased over the past 119 years, and all countries in the upstream and downstream of the basin have been severely affected. 

As the downpour continues, Song Lianchun, director of China’s National Climate Center, told reporters that the number of days of heavy rain in China has risen by roughly 4% each decade over the past six decades.

New line of cold water infused botanicals from the Bigelow Tea Company

Bigelow Botanicals

Bigelow Tea® has introduced a new line of cold water infused botanicals. Bigelow Botanicals Cold Water Infusions use real fruit and herbal combinations to inspire everyone to stay healthy and hydrated throughout the day, according to the company. The infusions are a “healthy alternative to sugary drinks, are zero-calorie, caffeine-free, and contain no artificial anything.”

Easily infused by the glass or on-the-go, tea drinkers simply place a tea bag in cold water for a few minutes, squeeze the bag and stir, or leave in for more flavor.

Bigelow Tea uses only high-quality ingredients and has specially curated the following botanical infusions that slowly come alive once cold water is added. Flavors include:

  • Watermelon Cucumber Mint
  • Blackberry Raspberry Hibiscus
  • Cranberry Lime Honeysuckle
  • Blueberry Citrus Basil
  • Strawberry Lemon Orange Blossom

To ensure each cold-water infusion makes a positive impact on the environment Bigelow uses minimal packaging and no plastic bottles (waste reduction is a top priority at this certified B Corporation). The overwrap used to hold each bag works to keep each flavor fresh until sipped by the glass or used with reusable water bottles for the on-the-go consumer.

Cindi Bigelow, third-generation president & CEO writes that “With today’s growing awareness and need to live a healthy lifestyle, we created these beautiful cold water infusion blends to support your wellness choices.”

“It’s truly unlike anything else and really does help you to drink more water throughout the day,” writes Bigelow. The range is gluten-free and non-GMO. The botanicals are sold in boxes of 18 individually-wrapped bags at a suggested retail price of $3.99, about 22-cents per serving.

Learn more at www.bigelowtea.com.

Need to Know | Play the Health Card

Need to Know | Play the Health Card

Tea Industry News for the week of June 8

  • Theaflavins Inhibit Virus Replication
  • Immunity is the Epicenter of Health Enhancing Foods
  • Water Works Wonders
  • Digesting Grubhub
  • Tea for the Front Line

“Now is the time to play the health card” I advised during a June 10 webinar on Tea Vulnerabilities hosted by the European Speciality Tea Association (formerly known as The European Tea Society).

Click here to watch a recording of the webinar.

Recent scientific articles* suggest that black tea polyphenols derived during the oxidation of tea catechins could potentially inhibit the ability of the coronavirus to replicate.

RNA replication in the coronavirus is a two-step mechanism that relies on the RdRP (RNA-dependent RNA polymerase) protein to catalyse the synthesis of the RNA strand.

Authors of a March article in the Journal of Medical Virology conclude that “theaflavin could be used as a lead compound for developing a SARS‐CoV‐2 inhibitor that targets RdRp. However, the exact in vivo effect is still unclear, and further research is needed to confirm the mechanism whereby theaflavin target SARS‐CoV‐2.”

Medical researchers in Taiwan recently concluded an investigation of 720 compounds listed in the Natural Product Libraries for anti-COVID-19 efficacy. The list was narrowed to 10 compounds and mixtures that had strong potential for anti-COVID-19 efficacy, according to Dr. Bashar Khiatah. “The compounds that have been found to have an anti-COVID 19 effect are the polyphenols that are found in teas,” writes Amylee Amos, MS, RDN.  These are found in black tea, green tea, oolong tea, and pu-erh. The most promising is Theaflavin-3,3′ -digallate (TF3) which is converted from catechins during fermentation.

Researchers in 1998 found tea theaflavins completely neutralized bovine coronavirus and rotavirus infections. In 2005 Chinese researchers showed that black tea significantly inhibited chymotrypsin-like protease activity essential to virus reproduction. Recent in-vitro studies found TF3 completely inhibited COVID virus replication in cell cultures.

The Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) announced that it will study Theaflavins’ antiviral properties.

*View research paper abstracts and links at end of this report.

Immunity is the Epicenter of Health Enhancing Foods

The polyphenols in tea are known to boost immunity and combat inflammation. Health institutes worldwide have for several years recommended eating foods and beverages that reduce inflammation and naturally boost the body’s immune system.

Due to the pandemic this health message has captured the attention of consumers who are increasingly seeking out products to boost their immune system, according to a post-pandemic study by Unilever’s CMI U-Futures and CMI People Data Centre.

Unilever found that in the US the intake of vitamin supplements in March rose by 15% in the space of a month. In Brazil consumers are bingeing on vitamin c-rich fruits and in Japan, yogurt formulated to boost the immune system saw a spike in sales.

Just Food reports that in Israel, interest in immune-system supportive ingredients rose 66% in March. According to AI-focused market research firm Tastewise, “we expect the trend to continue to rise. Immunity, stress relief, medicinal benefits and more are all skyrocketing.”

In China, a post-Covid-19 study of consumer behavior by McKinsey & Co. found that 70% of consumers intend to “work to boost their own physical immunity by exercising more and eating healthy.”

A review of ingredients used by at-home cooks shows a preference for wholesome, lean foods which may be influenced by studies showing obese victims are less likely to survive COVID-19.

The desire for health and well-being post pandemic is a consistent trend across all markets,”​ Unilever concluded. Unilever CEO Alan Jope told analysts “anything that’s in the space of wellness – health and well-being – is going to enjoy sustained strength.”

Having an optimally working immune system is more important than ever. The way our body deals with an infection is influenced by many factors of which the nutritional status is a critical element,”​ Dr Angelika De Bree, Unilever’s global nutrition director, explained to the The Food Navigator..

“Our biggest food brands offer thousands of products and recipes which are nutritious, affordable and made with sustainably sourced ingredients,” according to Dr. De Bree.

Tea is clearly the ideal beverage for the situation at hand.

Our tea and herbal category delivers healthy hydration through Earth’s most sustainable plant-based drinks,she said.

Water Works Wonders

The UK Tea Academy released a white paper describing “The Ultimate Ingredient for The Perfect Cup of Tea” – that being water.

“Water, which makes up to 99% or more of a cup of tea, is an often-overlooked ingredient that has a huge impact on the taste, aroma, and appearance of every cup. Following research of many different teas and many different waters, this paper finally provides the ideal water specification need to make the best brew,” writes Jane Pettigrew, one of three principal authors of the 12-page report.

The white paper highlights the key ingredients of water which impact the brewing process of tea. It also describes a standard water specification to create the optimal cup of tea.

Click to download the document here.

Water used to brew tea has not been considered in the same way as water for coffee, according to the report.

If the ideal water is not used, the delicate notes of tea cannot be realized, resulting in a bad experience with even the finest of teas. Sadly, this leads to a lack of consumer confidence as well as misconceptions of how certain teas taste.

“A perfect example of this is green tea. It is very common for people to “think” that they do not like green tea, the opinion reached because the tea has been almost certainly made with unfiltered water, at the wrong temperature and over-brewed. The entire flavor profile is altered, often leaving the tea bitter and undrinkable. Brew a green tea correctly and the entire experience is worlds apart in comparison,” writes Pettigrew.

The report delves into the chemistry of water, describes the importance of removing chlorine and preserving the the buffer capacity of the water, a delicate balance of calcium and magnesium that defines ideal “hardness.”

Retailers and tea traders should view this work as an excellent resource and, like those in the coffee world, they should adopt a water standard when tasting tea.

The specification appears below.

Digesting Grubhub

European food delivery venture Just Eat Takeaway derailed what looked like a pre-destined Uber takeover of Grubhub this week.

In May San Francisco-based Uber Technologies was set to acquire Chicago-based Grubhub to become the largest online foodservice delivery firm in the US. Haggling over price, and the likelihood of antitrust scrutiny, killed the deal which was valued at several hundred million (Uber offered $62.50 per share).

In June, Amsterdam-based Just Eat Takeaway offered the equivalent of $75.15 per Grubhub share. Just Eat (UK) and Takeaway (The Netherlands) combined their businesses in April, and now control a huge share of Europe’s growing market for both delivery and food delivery software.

Packaged Facts analyst Cara Rasch said the deal “will allow Just Eat Takeaway to gain a larger footprint in North America, and diversify Grubhub’s business. Skip the Dishes, a subsidiary of Just Eat Takeaway, does a lot of business in Canada and could help the Grubhub brand expand more broadly through North America.”

“In the short-term, third-party restaurant delivery apps have a number of advantages over in-house delivery,” she explains. “They are convenient for consumers because they allow customers to order from a variety of venues using one application. They also can allow smaller businesses without the capital to invest in in-house development of effective online apps to expand their delivery services quickly in the wake of COVID-19, which has forced fast changes,” writes Rasch, but restaurants consider the commissions that third-party online delivery companies charge to be a burden. “If they don’t raise their prices for meals ordered via a third-party app, they are in danger of losing money in an already tight-margin business that has been threatened by lower overall restaurant sales during the pandemic,” she said.

The outlook for carryout and delivery is bright due to distancing guidelines that have shuttered dine-in service or forced restaurants to greatly limit their dine-in capacity.

Long term, “many restaurants are going to see the value of investing in an in-house system for delivery orders. Using a third-party company for ordering and delivery makes it harder for restaurants to develop a direct relationship with consumers. It is also challenging to ensure food quality since restaurants have no control over the food once it leaves the restaurant,” she said.

Source: Packaged Facts, Food-Carryout & Delivery

Tea for the Front Line

The Tea Spot launched its new Flu Fighter tea, a caffeine-free herbal blend that features functional ingredients, including astragalus, honeysuckle, organic licorice root, orange peel, tangerine peel, dandelion root, mulberry leaf, red root and organic ginger.

Flu Fighter Tea

The ingredients in the new Flu Fighter tea were chosen based on a recent medical report, published in Military Medical Research (Volume 7, Article Number 4, February 2020), on the diagnosis and treatment of the novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV), where a combination of herbs and roots were used to support flu-like symptoms.

According to Maria Uspenski, founder and CEO of The Tea Spot and author of Cancer Hates Tea, many of the natural herbs in this sweet, nourishing tea were also used in ancient times to make wellness broths for recovery and building strength. And while the Flu Fighter tea is meant to be supportive and maintain wellness, it is not meant to treat, cure or prevent any disease or ailment.

“The pain and stress of the current pandemic has pushed The Tea Spot to think outside the box as to how we can help empower people to find and support better overall wellness,” said Uspenski. “The result of our efforts is our aromatic and medicinal Flu Fighter herbal tea, inspired by recent medical research. This supportive tea is intended to be used in combination with social distancing, good personal hygiene, sound diet, ample exercise and rest, while it encourages wellness and facilitates calm amidst the turmoil and uncertainty that’s happening around the world.”

The Tea Spot donates 10% of all profits in-kind to cancer survivors and community wellness programs. In May The Tea Spot donated 55,000 specialty tea sachets to first-responders in New York, California, and Texas.

Footnote: The US Census Bureau on June 8 announced a very helpful online resource for understanding and keeping up with the impact of COVID-19. Visit: COVID-19 Data Hub (https://covid19.census.gov/).

THEAFLAVIN REFERENCES
*Jrhau LungYu‐Shih LinYao‐Hsu YangYu‐Lun ChouLi‐Hsin ShuYu‐Ching ChengHung Te LiuChing‐Yuan Wu |The potential chemical structure of anti‐SARS‐CoV‐2 RNA‐dependent RNA polymerase | First published: 13 March 2020 https://doi.org/10.1002/jmv.25761
Chen CN, Lin CP, Huang KK, et al. Inhibition of SARS-CoV 3C-like Protease Activity by Theaflavin-3,3′-digallate (TF3). Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2005;2(2):209–215. doi:10.1093/ecam/neh081
Clark KJ, Grant PG, Sarr AB, Belakere JR, Swaggerty CL, Phillips TD, et al. An in vitro study of theaflavins extracted from black tea to neutralize bovine rotavirus and bovine coronavirus infections. Vet Microbiol. 1998;63:147–57.
Ksiazek TG, Erdman D, Goldsmith CS, et al. A novel coronavirus associated with severe acute respiratory syndrome. N Engl J Med. 2003;348(20):1953–1966. doi:10.1056/NEJMoa030781
Hegyi A, Friebe A, Gorbalenya AE, Ziebuhr J. Mutational analysis of the active centre of coronavirus 3C-like proteases. J Gen Virol. 2002;83(Pt 3):581–593. doi:10.1099/0022-1317-83-3-581
Leung WK, To KF, Chan PK, et al. Enteric involvement of severe acute respiratory syndrome-associated coronavirus infection. Gastroenterology. 2003;125(4):1011–1017. doi:10.1016/s0016-5085(03)01215-0
Herold J, Gorbalenya AE, Thiel V, Schelle B, Siddell SG. Proteolytic processing at the amino terminus of human coronavirus 229E gene 1-encoded polyproteins: identification of a papain-like proteinase and its substrate. J Virol. 1998;72(2):910–918.
Muhammad Tahir ul Qamar, Safar M. Alqahtani, Mubarak A. Alamri, Ling-Ling Chen, Structural basis of SARS-CoV-2 3CLpro and anti-COVID-19 drug discovery from medicinal plants†,Journal of Pharmaceutical Analysis,2020,ISSN 2095-1779,https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jpha.2020.03.009.
Zhavoronkov, Alex; Aladinskiy, Vladimir; Zhebrak, Alexander; Zagribelnyy, Bogdan; Terentiev, Victor; Bezrukov, Dmitry S.; et al. (2020): Potential COVID-2019 3C-like Protease Inhibitors Designed Using Generative Deep Learning Approaches. ChemRxiv. Preprint. https://doi.org/10.26434/chemrxiv.11829102.v2
Chen CN, Liang CM, Lai JR, Tsai YJ, Tsay JS, Lin JK. Capillary electrophoretic determination of theanine, caffeine, and catechins in fresh tea leaves and oolong tea and their effects on rat neurosphere adhesion and migration. J Agric Food Chem. 2003;51:7495–503.

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.

Patent Persuasion – Need to Know

What tea professionals need to start the week —

Single-serve lawsuits draw a line in the sand… growers of Honeybush in South Africa voice concern over rising demand… AriZona retains its position as the market leader in ready-to-drink tea in convenience stores… Numi introduces single serve tea in RealCups.

Patent Persuasion

Numi Organic Tea announced its new single-cup line last week, about the same time Harney & Sons Fine Teas launched their selection of single-cup teas.

Neither company chose to partner with Keurig Green Mountain which licenses its K-Cup technology to major tea blenders including Lipton, Snapple, Bigelow, Teavana, Twinings, Tetley, Celestial Seasonings and Tazo.

LOGO_KeurigGreenMountain_replacesGMCRTheir decision is based on economics in part. The largest brands produce K-Cups in huge quantities paying less per cup and can therefore better afford to pay Keurig Green Mountain a royalty of 6.2 cents per cup.

There is also a principal involved, a line in the sand with KGM on one side facing a growing number of private label manufacturers including California-based Rogers Family Coffee and Toronto-based Mother Parkers Tea & Coffee. Each of these firms packages their own lines in Keurig-compatible non-licensed capsules and packs tea for companies like Republic of Tea (Rogers).

Since its patents expired in September 2012, Green Mountain has watched its market share erode. Last year unlicensed packs grew from 7% to 14% share of the $3.1 billion single-serve market, according to data from Mintel International. Green Mountain, which once controlled 80% of the market by value, now controls 20% (with another 13% held by Keurig  manufactured Caribou, Newman’s Own and Eight O’Clock coffee).

Starbucks has sold 2 billion K-Cups in a successful partnership with Keurig dating to 2011 and currently has a 12% share. Folgers (JM Smucker) has 12% share, according to IRI data (which counts grocery, drug store and mass market sales). Last week Starbucks renegotiated its deal with Keurig, striking terms that had prevented Keurig from partnering with other super-premium brands but gaining access to the lower end of the market for brands like Seattle’s Best. Almost immediately Peets Coffee & Tea announced it would partner with Keurig Green Mountain. Peets had previously offered its coffee only in RealCup™ Even though it now faces competition in the premium segment, Starbucks is quite confident it will be rewarded for expanding its offerings. Single-cups are the fastest growing coffee segment and many more homes are going to dump their Mr. Coffee for a pod machine.

Keurig believes that by developing superior equipment and partnering with companies like Starbucks to insure a large assortment of licensed brands it will win back market share.

REALCUP(TM) LOGOIn choosing to contract with Mother Parkers Tea & Coffee, Numi joins a growing number of grocery chains including Kroger and Safeway, large manufacturers such as Kraft and Mondelez International, and independent coffee roasters who believe that open competition leads to product innovation, improved quality and greater consumer value.

On Feb. 12,  TreeHouse Foods, a multibillion-dollar private label manufacturer, filed suit against Keurig, Inc., and Green Mountain Coffee Roasters (collectively known as Keurig Green Mountain) alleging they engaged in anti-competitive acts to unlawfully maintain their monopoly over the cups used in single-serve brewers. A month later The Rogers Family Co. also filed suit alleging Keurig used its monopoly power in the single-serve coffee brewer and coffee pod markets to require its distribution partners to enter into “exclusive anti-competitive agreements designed to maintain Keurig’s monopoly power by excluding competition.”

In a release announcing the suit, TreeHouse writes that “Green Mountain has announced plans to eliminate the current lineup of K-cup brewers, which function with competitive cups, to exclude competition and force consumers to purchase higher-priced Green Mountain cups. TreeHouse’s lawsuit maintains that any supposed consumer benefits from the new technology are more than outweighed by the harm to competition and consumers by eliminating their choice and forcing them to pay higher prices for Green Mountain cups.”

“Such an anti-competitive product redesign would force consumers to pay at least 15 percent to 25 percent more for K-Cups, would block consumers from their preferred beverages and would restrain competition,” Oak Brook, Illinois-based TreeHouse said in its complaint.

Keurig Green Mountain Spokeswoman Suzanne DuLong responded that “We believe these claims are totally without merit, and we intend to defend these lawsuits vigorously.”

Coffee industry leader Mother Parkers agrees with TreeHouse Foods actions to stop a Keurig® monopoly, according to the company.

“The patents have expired; consumers have declared that they want choice,” said Bill VandenBygaart, Vice President of Business Development at Mother Parkers. “In our opinion, this action by Keurig as well as the pattern of anti-competitive activities described in the Complaint will continue to hurt the category.”

Tea and coffee drinkers “should decide which coffee they will brew, not Keurig® or Green Mountain Coffee Roasters®,” said VandenBygaart. “We support efforts to keep the single-serve business open to competition and believe that competition will deliver a better cup of coffee or tea.”

Numi Co-founder Ahmed Rahim was eager to enter the single-serve business, but it was paramount that the taste he so carefully crafted was present in each cup brewed from a single-serve capsule, according to a press release announcing the decision.

“I was impressed by the taste delivered by a RealCup™ capsule,” said Rahim. “It was clear to me that the superior taste from the carefully chosen real ingredients used in Numi® Organic Tea’s blends would be found in the teacup and not left behind in the capsule.” In choosing he placed Numi on the “one for all, all for one” side of the line.

No one wants to lose their monopoly. Keurig Green Mountain aggressively responded to the suit but the company’s decision to erect an even more formidable patent barricade is ultimately going to dampen innovation. In February KGM CEO Brian Kelley unveiled a new Keurig 2.0 brewer that will not work with non-licensed K-Cups. The patent for “intelligent extraction” which depends on a bar-code and radio-frequency ID means that owners will once again be forced to purchase Keurig coffee. It will also thwart the use of refill capsules.

The reality is that Keurig will find it hard to convince coffee drinkers they must pay for the new brewers through a premium of as much as three times the actual cost of coffee contained in the capsule.  Kelley has promised the technology will produce a better cup of coffee, leading existing Keurig owners to upgrade. Keurig has sold 16 million brewers to date. Installing RFID technology in existing models is not practical. Adding this feature to new less expensive models drives up their cost.

Keurig may abandon its first-generation brewers but private label capsules are here to stay, as evidenced by the rapid growth of the Hamilton Beach FlexBrew. This non-licensed $49.95 Keurig-compatible brewer in five months is already found in 11,000 outlets. It is outselling Keurig’s comparable K-10 because it not only accepts K-Cups, it accepts refillable cups, has a wire mesh basket for your own freshly ground coffee and will brew European-style filter pad coffee as well as tea pods.

Keurig 2.0 will certainly offer more features; and with its partners likely make a better cup of coffee. It may well triumph in its niche — but not by unfairly stifling competitive innovation.

CASE: TreeHouse Foods Inc. v. Green Mountain Coffee Roasters Inc., 14-cv-00905, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York (Manhattan).

Source: TreeHouse Foods

Fast Growth RTD Tea

While carbonated drinks remain the most widely consumed beverage in America the U.S. Beverage industry reported another year-to-year drop in volume, this time down 1.42% in convenience outlets compared to 2012. In contrast RTD tea is the fastest growing segment of the beverage category.

SLIDES-RTD_AriZonaTea_greenteaginsengAriZona Tea was the top-selling brand in convenience last year with almost $270 million in sales. Lipton Brisk ($153 million) and Lipton PureLeaf ($125 million) trailed according to data from IRI.

The biggest growth was Coca-Cola’s FUZE juice fortified with vitamins. Sales increased 250% to $33 million. The bottled tea category generated $1.23 billion sales in convenience outlets in 2013.

Bottled water showed big gains as soda consumption continues to decline but ready-to-drink tea may be the ultimate victor now that the world’s major bottlers are give it a boost.

Coca-Cola reported last month that its tea volume grew by 11% last quarter. Sales of Honest Tea are up 25% compared to 2012 and it is now a $100 million brand. FUZE tea and juice blends and Gold Peak shows solid growth as well.

Market research firm Canadean released its Global Iced/RTD Tea Drinks Report last week noting North America had net volume growth of 74 million gallons (280 million liters). The $5.1 billion U.S. market for RTD tea is expected to increase to $5.3 billion in 2014 with projected growth rate of 6% through 2018.

 “The refreshing taste and perceived natural, healthy image of iced/RTD tea drinks will continue to generate growth and place the category in a good position to take advantage of the slowing carbonates market,” according to Canadean.

RTD tea is not just gaining customers in the United States.

Of the impressive 18.7 billion liters forecast to join the market between 2013 and 2018, over 15 billion liters is projected to come from Asia, with a massive contribution from China (as it overcomes its temporary setback) and Indonesia, according to Canadean. “Soft drink categories have continued with healthy double-digit growth, primarily owing to the key categories such as iced/RTD tea drinks and packaged water. The company reports that in Europe most carbonated consumption continued to occur in West Europe (primarily Benelux) in 2012. The region consumes 55% of global volumes but has lost considerable ground to Asia.

Excessive Demand Depletes Honeybush

Demand is depleting stocks of Honeybush, a largely wild-harvested South African bush used to make a popular herbal drink.

SLIDES-INNO_RTD_HoneybushTeaIt has become a popular because of its sweet flavor and it is often praised for its potential health benefits. There are 23 species of Honeybush; several are used to make an herbal beverage. In 1997 the harvest was 27 metric tons but when companies like Tazo, Twinings and Stash offering Honeybush blends in their lineup demand rose to 200 metric tons.

The challenge is supply.

Honeybush (Cyclopia sp.) is a legume that grows only in the mountains north of South Africa’s Cape of Good Hope. Honeybush is part of the fynbos biome a habitat that is under pressure similar to that experienced by Rooibos which experienced a three-fold increase in demand. The result was widespread cultivation on land farmed at the expense of other native plant species.

Richard Cowling, of the Department of Botany at the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University, cautioned that steps should be taken to prevent mistakes by the Rooibos tea industry.

“What is required is the mainstreaming of biodiversity and sustainability into the policies and practices of the Honeybush industry at this early stage of its development,” Cowling told the Flower Valley Conservation Trust. This could be done through certification championed by the local industry. Certification could ensure that sustainable veld harvesting guidelines are followed, that cultivation only takes place on old lands and that fair labor practices are met, he said.

There is very limited commercial cultivation of Honeybush so supply has relied heavily on wild bushes. The small plantations that currently exist are only able to supply 25% of the need. Honeybush traders travel into the mountains and harvest what is to be sold. Concerns have been raised that improper harvesting has damaged the existing supply. Wildfires, droughts, and over-harvesting have now raised serious questions about the plants’ long-term survival. Beginning in the mid-2000s, supply began to drop significantly, just at a time when global demand was increasing. The supply problems pose significant challenges to blending for consistent flavor and appearance and prices have now doubled.

Currently 15% of the Honeybush produced stays in South Africa. The rest is exported, with 85% of those exports going to the United States and Germany. Honeybush producers worry that the plant simply will not survive and work is now being done to establish nurseries and plantations to grow more Honeybush for commercial use.

These supply concerns are coinciding with efforts by the European Union and South Africa to assist one another with protecting geographic trademarks for products including Honeybush.

Neill Coetzee at Cape Town South Africa’s Coetzee & Coetzee (Pty) Ltd. is one such exporter. He identified five species that are commercially utilized. Two are slow growing and mainly wild harvested, he writes.

One species, Cyclopia longifolia, is “a new kid on the block and showing big commercialization prospects,” according to Coetzee. “This tea is very similar to Cyclopia intermedia (the original honeybush) but grows well in cultivation,” writes Coetzee whose firm trades in natural and organic ingredients, medicinal plants, herbal teas, Rooibos and Honeybush.

Small quantities of Honeybush are grown on lands from Mosselbay to Oudsthoorn (the eastern sides of the Western Cape province) and on the western side of the Eastern Cape province (Joubertina to Kareedouw). There are two Rooibos plantations situated near Honeybush producers but most Rooibos is grown 200 miles away in the Cederberg Mountains near Clanwilliam, considered the heart of Rooibos cultivation.

Learn more: South African Broadcasting Corporation

— — —

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.


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Need to Know (March 10, 2014)

What tea professionals need to start the week —

CBC reports pesticide residues greater than legal threshold… China tightens food safety rules leading tea gardens to reduce reliance on pesticides… “Be More Tea” generates plenty of social buzz… Harney & Sons introduce tea in K-Cup compatible capsules… Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf introduces tea granitas.

Popular Tea Brands Exceed Threshold for Pesticide Residue

The Canadian Broadcasting Corp. (CBC) aired an exclusive report backed by laboratory findings showing several popular tea brands contain pesticide residue exceeding the government mandated threshold.

Test results from the CBC’s Marketplace Consumer Watchdog Blog can be viewed here.

Responses from tea companies tested in the report can be viewed here.

LOGO_Marketplace_ConsumerWatchdog

Authorities stressed that minute traces of residue found in samples of Lipton, Tetley, Twinings and other popular brands were not a health risk.

“Health Canada reviewed the information provided by Marketplace and for the pesticides bifenthrin, imidacloprid, acetamiprid, chlorfenapyr, pyridaben, acephate, dicofol and monocrotophos determined that consumption of tea containing the residues listed does not pose a health risk based on the level of residues reported, expected frequency of exposure and contribution to overall diet. Moreover, a person would have to consume approximately 75 cups of tea per day over their entire lifetime to elicit an adverse health effect,” a spokesperson wrote to the CBC in a statement.

Canada’s Food Inspection Authority (CFIA) previously disclosed concerns about pesticide residue in 2009 and again in 2011 following tests of tea. Marketplace commissioned testing through an accredited lab to see if the teas exceeding Canada’s allowable limits were still in violation. In several instances that was the case.

Eight of the 10 brands sampled from grocery shelves in Toronto contained multiple chemicals and one brand contained residues from 22 different pesticides. Traces point to the use of endosulfan and monocrotophos, both banned by the United States and Canada as well as China and the European Union.

Brands purchased at grocers including Loblaws included Uncle Lee’s Legends of China, King Cole and Signal tea. Only Red Rose came back free of pesticide residues.

Environmental lawyer David Boyd told Marketplace “the presence of so many pesticides on a single product and so many products that exceed the maximum residue limits for pesticides, suggests that we’re seeing very poor agricultural practices in countries, which poses risk to the environment where these products are being grown; which pose risk to the farm workers who are growing these crops, and ultimately pose risk to the Canadians who are consuming these products.”

“The whole point of pesticides is that they’re chemically and biologically active in parts per million or parts per billion,” Boyd told the CBC. “Pesticides can have adverse effects at what are seemingly very small concentrations,” he said.

According to Boyd, these results “should raise a red flag for the regulators whose job is to protect the health and safety of Canadians in our environment.”

Here is a statement from the Tea Association of Canada:

“In Canada, the Tea Association continues to work with the Pest Management Regulatory Agency (PMRA), The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) as well as the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Group (IGG) on Tea, which is spearheading an agreement to harmonize pesticide standards, making tea production safer for consumers and protecting the livelihoods of millions of smallholder producers worldwide.

Consumers should continue to consume and enjoy the many varieties of tea for its health promoting and protective effects as well as its delicious taste. “There is now an overwhelming body of research from around the world indicating that drinking tea benefits human health,” says Dr. Carol Greenwood, Professor of Nutritional Sciences at the University of Toronto and a Senior Scientist at the Rotman Research Institute at Baycrest.”

Source: CBC

See: Uncovering the Truth: Is Tea Full of Pesticides?

China Tightens Pesticide Use in Tea Gardens

STiR Tea & Coffee International

Last November the Chinese Food and Drug Administration proposed a major revision to its food safety laws that will likely be approved by China’s congress late this year.

14i2_ChinaPesticides_QualifiedTeaResidueChange

Pesticide residue has steadily declined in China’s tea leaves

This is a high-priority initiative motivated by recent food safety scandals, according to the U.S.-China Health Products Association. It will clarify government oversight, increase regulatory obligations for food manufacturers and distributors; enhance controls over food products and increase penalties for non-compliance. Individuals sentenced for imprisonment will not be allowed to engage in food manufacturing or distribution in his/her lifetime. During the past three years more than 2,000 people have been prosecuted for food safety-related crimes in China.

The amendments continue a sweeping reform of the country’s food safety standards following a national scandal in 2008 involving melamine-tainted infant formula. That breech led to the execution of violators to make the point China was serious. Enactment will further efforts to curb pesticide use in tea gardens

By 2005 93.1% of tea products already had attained or exceed the Green Food standard, according to a presentation by Mao Limin, then chairman of the Zhejiang Tea Industry Chamber of Commerce. Limin told delegates at the 2011 North American Tea Conference that random inspection of tea had reached 100% at government owned gardens. In addition 267,000 acres (108,000 ha) of organic tea plantations had been certified organic and pesticide free.

The Green Food standard permits chemical pesticides and fertilizers but mandates residue levels meet export standards. The European Union and Japan set the highest thresholds but all trading partners have Maximum Residue Levels (MRLs). Organic certification in China is under the IFOAM rules with annual re-certification. Organic teas for export must comply with rules established by certifying bodies such as Swiss-based IMO, the British Soil Association, the USDA’s National Organic Program and JAS Japan.

Every pesticide approved for use has a required safe harvest interval, which is the time lapse between application of pesticides and harvest. In China preference is given to pesticides that are not easily dissolved in water. This reduces the portion that actually gets into the liquor. Most chemicals biodegrade leaving residue trapped in the spent leaf.

14i2_ChinaPesticides_QualifiedTeaExportResidue

Use of dangerous pesticides has fallen over phase out.

“It shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone that there are pesticides used in commercial tea production, and that third-world countries are using some illegal ones, which are probably cheaper,” writes Austin Hodge, founder of Seven Cups Fine Chinese Tea in Tucson, Ariz.

“The boney finger always gets pointed at China, the great polluter, with pollution in Beijing as bad as when I was a kid in Los Angeles. It can all be explained in three words: cheap prices, commodity, and quantity. For the most part, bugs come in the summer. In the tropics, however, bugs are omnipresent. It’s always summer. It provides for a long growing season and an abundant yield. It is a broader truth that if you want cheap tea and cheap food, pesticides come along with the price,” he wrote in in a T Ching post last May.

In April 2012 Greenpeace issued a report: Pesticides: Hidden Ingredients in Chinese Tea following an investigation that showed chemical residue from pesticide. The organization sent samples purchased from well-known tea companies to an accredited third-party laboratory that found residues of various types on all 18 of the samples submitted. A total of 29 different pesticides were detected, several known to cause harm. Six samples contained more than 10 different pesticides. Twelve samples showed traces of banned pesticides including methomyul, endosulfan and fenvalerate which are known to impair fertility, harm unborn children and cause heritable genetic damage.

14i2_ChinaPesticides_QualifiedTeaProductsa

Inspections show greater compliance over time.

What the report did not state is that most of the residue was within established standards.

“If you take the considerable trouble of comparing the Greenpeace data with EU pesticide limits for the 28 chemicals mentioned then 5 of the 18 teas accused actually fall below the MRL limits for all 28 and two teas exceed by a trace level of 1 mg/kg on two chemicals,” writes Nigel Melican, founder of TeaCraft, a widely acclaimed British tea consultancy. He goes on to say: “This leaves 11 teas non-compliant for  one  or  more  pesticides, were they to be sold in the EU.”

The sampled teas were from local Chinese vendors and not subject to more stringent export rules.

“Nowhere in the report does Greenpeace China suggest that the non-compliant teas are representative of China teas presented for export – but commentators in the USA and UK have erroneously and immediately jumped to this conclusion,” he writes.

More troubling is the CBC investigation of tea for sale in Canada.

Source: STiR Tea & Coffee Industry International, March-April 2014.

TEABIZ-KTN_140303_KermitLipton“Be More Tea” Generates Great Buzz

Lipton’s $40 million global campaign promoting a relaxed lifestyle message is riding high on social buzz following the debut of Kermit the Frog as the brand’s new icon of calm.

The TV audience of 43 million watching the Academy Awards and a well prepared social team capitalizing on the Oscar presentations generated 3.85 million views of the ad on YouTube in the past week. The commercial depicts a horde of “Animal” puppets driving cabs, shouting and racing about New York City set the scene for the thoughtful frog who is captured placidly walking amid the mayhem doing good turns and going with the flow as he is bumped and jostled about.

“Be More Tea” is Unilever’s first global campaign to elevate its Yellow Label brand and Kermit is the epitome of mindfulness as he sips his way through the antics of Miss Piggy and pals. The promotion is tied to a Disney movie starring the Muppets.

Kermit will be the face of Lipton in North America and Europe where the puppets are well known but “Be More Tea” is a slogan that will be translated into many languages in advertisements designed to create single global positioning for the world’s leading brand of tea.

“We live in a busy world.  It’s easy to slip into a routine with our heads down, moving from one place or obligation to the next.  Lipton wants to inspire consumers to ‘look up’, take in all that life has to offer and enjoy what you may have otherwise missed,” said Alfie Vivian, vice president of refreshments for Unilever. “This is what ‘Be More Tea’ means to Lipton and the philosophy we will bring to life in our new national ad campaign starring the Muppets.”

Alessandra Bellini, VP-brand development for Unilever Refreshments, told Ad Age that Unilever is doubling Lipton marketing spending to more than $40 million this year compared to last. The campaign will run four weeks.

“The campaign backs both Lipton hot tea and iced tea. While Lipton has had global campaigns in the past for ready-to-drink tea, this is the first global effort behind the entire brand lineup,” Ms. Bellini told Ad Age. “Lipton — in both cold and hot forms — trails only Coke in sales among global beverage brands,” she added.

The Muppets“Making movies and dating Miss Piggy can be stressful – especially the dating part. But I always try to stay cool and look on the bright side,” said Kermit the Frog. “That’s what this Lipton campaign is all about.  In a world filled with high-stress wild-in-the-street types like Animal, you have to take time to enjoy life and ‘Be More Tea.'”

Click here to see the ad.

Click here to see a 90-second behind the scenes video with Kermit back stage preparing for his role in the new Disney Movie “Muppets Most Wanted” scheduled for release March 21.

Harney & Sons Tea Capsules

Harney & Sons Fine Teas introduced a line of Keurig-compatible single-serve teas this week.

TEABIZ-ART_Harney&SonsCapsules_GroupTea drinkers can now enjoy Harney & Son’s teas with the convenience of the individual tea capsules that are 98% recyclable. Four blends from the company’s classics collection are available in 24-count boxes: Paris, Egyptian, Chamomile, Hot Cinnamon Spice and Tropical Green, as well as four blends from their HT Collection in 16-count boxes: Green Tea with Coconut, Earl Grey, Peppermint Herbal and Hot Cinnamon Sunset.

The Keurig® compatible capsules deliver the same great flavor and aroma customers have come to expect, according to the company which is now celebrating its 30th Anniversary. The Cool, Peel and Recycle technology allows tea drinkers to easily peel off the capsule after cooling, and recycle the capsule filter and spent tea. Harney & Sons continues to provide new and innovative ways to enjoy their classic tea, said founder John Harney.

Three generations of the Harney family oversee a venture that still sources, blends and packages their own products from start to finish. Harney’s small home-run business in Salisbury, Conn., has grown into a global operation with more than 170 employees at its headquarters in Millerton, New York. The company fills 90,000 square feet of warehouse space and has a new bottling plant under construction.

Capsules are available for purchase at www.harney.com.

CBTL Introduces Tea Granita

Cold tea beverages, fruit and tea fusion drinks and chilled herbals are doing well in the marketplace.

TEABIZ_CBTL_TeaGranitas_pairedLast week The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf® introduced Tea Granitas to the lineup, a new concept in the beverage category.

“Borrowing inspiration from the Italian granita dessert – made of fruit and ice – the Tea Granitas are a light, refreshing balance of premium iced teas and trending fruit flavors, and are blended with ice,” according to the company.

The Passion Fruit Tea Granita blends Assam Black Tea and the bright, bold flavors of passion fruit, yielding a slightly tart finish. The Pear Berry Tea Granita combines the company’s popular Swedish Berries fruit infusion with notes of pear, creating a delicious caffeine-free beverage.

“The Tea Granita is a truly unique beverage that’s perfect to launch in the spring,” says CBTL President and CEO, John Dawson. “It brings a delicious twist to iced tea refreshment and is the latest in a long line of tea beverage innovations from The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf®. Our customers know us for our signature tea beverages, such as the Chai Tea Latte and Matcha Green Tea Ice Blended® drink, and we believe the Tea Granita is another delicious beverage our customers will love sip after sip.”

Source: Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf

— — —

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.

Popular Tea Brands Exceed Threshold for Pesticide Residue

The Canadian Broadcasting Corp. (CBC) aired an exclusive report backed by laboratory findings showing several popular tea brands contain pesticide residue exceeding the government mandated threshold.

Test results from the CBC’s Marketplace Consumer Watchdog Blog can be viewed here.

Responses from tea companies tested in the report can be viewed here.

LOGO_Marketplace_ConsumerWatchdog

Authorities stressed that minute traces of residue found in samples of Lipton, Tetley, Twinings and other popular brands were not a health risk.

“Health Canada reviewed the information provided by Marketplace and for the pesticides bifenthrin, imidacloprid, acetamiprid, chlorfenapyr, pyridaben, acephate, dicofol and monocrotophos determined that consumption of tea containing the residues listed does not pose a health risk based on the level of residues reported, expected frequency of exposure and contribution to overall diet. Moreover, a person would have to consume approximately 75 cups of tea per day over their entire lifetime to elicit an adverse health effect,” a spokesperson wrote to the CBC in a statement.

Canada’s Food Inspection Authority (CFIA) previously disclosed concerns about pesticide residue in 2009 and again in 2011 following tests of tea. Marketplace commissioned testing through an accredited lab to see if the teas exceeding Canada’s allowable limits were still in violation. In several instances that was the case.

Eight of the 10 brands sampled from grocery shelves in Toronto contained multiple chemicals and one brand contained residues from 22 different pesticides. Traces point to the use of endosulfan and monocrotophos, both banned by the United States and Canada as well as China and the European Union.

Brands purchased at grocers including Loblaws included Uncle Lee’s Legends of China, King Cole and Signal tea. Only Red Rose came back free of pesticide residues.

Environmental lawyer David Boyd told Marketplace “the presence of so many pesticides on a single product and so many products that exceed the maximum residue limits for pesticides, suggests that we’re seeing very poor agricultural practices in countries, which poses risk to the environment where these products are being grown; which pose risk to the farm workers who are growing these crops, and ultimately pose risk to the Canadians who are consuming these products.”

“The whole point of pesticides is that they’re chemically and biologically active in parts per million or parts per billion,” Boyd told the CBC. “Pesticides can have adverse effects at what are seemingly very small concentrations,” he said.

According to Boyd, these results “should raise a red flag for the regulators whose job is to protect the health and safety of Canadians in our environment.”

Here is a statement from the Tea Association of Canada:

“In Canada, the Tea Association continues to work with the Pest Management Regulatory Agency (PMRA), The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) as well as the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Group (IGG) on Tea, which is spearheading an agreement to harmonize pesticide standards, making tea production safer for consumers and protecting the livelihoods of millions of smallholder producers worldwide.

Consumers should continue to consume and enjoy the many varieties of tea for its health promoting and protective effects as well as its delicious taste. “There is now an overwhelming body of research from around the world indicating that drinking tea benefits human health,” says Dr. Carol Greenwood, Professor of Nutritional Sciences at the University of Toronto and a Senior Scientist at the Rotman Research Institute at Baycrest.”

Source: CBC

See: Uncovering the Truth: Is Tea Full of Pesticides?

China Tightens Pesticide Use in Tea Gardens

STiR Tea & Coffee International

Last November the Chinese Food and Drug Administration proposed a major revision to its food safety laws that will likely be approved by China’s congress late this year.

14i2_ChinaPesticides_QualifiedTeaResidueChange

Pesticide residue has steadily declined in China’s tea leaves

This is a high-priority initiative motivated by recent food safety scandals, according to the U.S.-China Health Products Association. It will clarify government oversight, increase regulatory obligations for food manufacturers and distributors; enhance controls over food products and increase penalties for non-compliance. Individuals sentenced for imprisonment will not be allowed to engage in food manufacturing or distribution in his/her lifetime. During the past three years more than 2,000 people have been prosecuted for food safety-related crimes in China.

The amendments continue a sweeping reform of the country’s food safety standards following a national scandal in 2008 involving melamine-tainted infant formula. That breech led to the execution of violators to make the point China was serious. Enactment will further efforts to curb pesticide use in tea gardens

By 2005 93.1% of tea products already had attained or exceed the Green Food standard, according to a presentation by Mao Limin, then chairman of the Zhejiang Tea Industry Chamber of Commerce. Limin told delegates at the 2011 North American Tea Conference that random inspection of tea had reached 100% at government owned gardens. In addition 267,000 acres (108,000 ha) of organic tea plantations had been certified organic and pesticide free.

The Green Food standard permits chemical pesticides and fertilizers but mandates residue levels meet export standards. The European Union and Japan set the highest thresholds but all trading partners have Maximum Residue Levels (MRLs). Organic certification in China is under the IFOAM rules with annual re-certification. Organic teas for export must comply with rules established by certifying bodies such as Swiss-based IMO, the British Soil Association, the USDA’s National Organic Program and JAS Japan.

Every pesticide approved for use has a required safe harvest interval, which is the time lapse between application of pesticides and harvest. In China preference is given to pesticides that are not easily dissolved in water. This reduces the portion that actually gets into the liquor. Most chemicals biodegrade leaving residue trapped in the spent leaf.

14i2_ChinaPesticides_QualifiedTeaExportResidue

Use of dangerous pesticides has fallen over phase out.

“It shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone that there are pesticides used in commercial tea production, and that third-world countries are using some illegal ones, which are probably cheaper,” writes Austin Hodge, founder of Seven Cups Fine Chinese Tea in Tucson, Ariz.

“The boney finger always gets pointed at China, the great polluter, with pollution in Beijing as bad as when I was a kid in Los Angeles. It can all be explained in three words: cheap prices, commodity, and quantity. For the most part, bugs come in the summer. In the tropics, however, bugs are omnipresent. It’s always summer. It provides for a long growing season and an abundant yield. It is a broader truth that if you want cheap tea and cheap food, pesticides come along with the price,” he wrote in in a T Ching post last May.

In April 2012 Greenpeace issued a report: Pesticides: Hidden Ingredients in Chinese Tea following an investigation that showed chemical residue from pesticide. The organization sent samples purchased from well-known tea companies to an accredited third-party laboratory that found residues of various types on all 18 of the samples submitted. A total of 29 different pesticides were detected, several known to cause harm. Six samples contained more than 10 different pesticides. Twelve samples showed traces of banned pesticides including methomyul, endosulfan and fenvalerate which are known to impair fertility, harm unborn children and cause heritable genetic damage.

14i2_ChinaPesticides_QualifiedTeaProductsa

Inspections show greater compliance over time.

What the report did not state is that most of the residue was within established standards.

“If you take the considerable trouble of comparing the Greenpeace data with EU pesticide limits for the 28 chemicals mentioned then 5 of the 18 teas accused actually fall below the MRL limits for all 28 and two teas exceed by a trace level of 1 mg/kg on two chemicals,” writes Nigel Melican, founder of TeaCraft, a widely acclaimed British tea consultancy. He goes on to say: “This leaves 11 teas non-compliant for  one  or  more  pesticides, were they to be sold in the EU.”

The sampled teas were from local Chinese vendors and not subject to more stringent export rules.

“Nowhere in the report does Greenpeace China suggest that the non-compliant teas are representative of China teas presented for export – but commentators in the USA and UK have erroneously and immediately jumped to this conclusion,” he writes.

More troubling is the CBC investigation of tea for sale in Canada.

Source: STiR Tea & Coffee Industry International, March-April 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.


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Need to Know (March 3, 2014)

What tea professionals need to start the week —

European restrictions on the import of Japanese tea ease April 1… Meet 700-year-old ChigusaCredit markets are expected to be more active in 2014… Numi Organic Tea secures $4.75 million working capital… Jamba is juiced over Drink Green offerings… Zest high octane tea triples the caffeine of regular black tea… Tea Magazine evolves.

European Restrictions on Japanese Tea Eased

The European Union has eased stringent tests of Japanese foods including tea after examining 85,000 products harvested in the third growing season following the nuclear accident at Fukushima.

FLAG-EuropeanUnionThe decision by the Standing Committee on the Food Chain and Animal Health follows a recommendation to lift emergency restrictions on goods from two prefectures and eased restrictions for seven other prefectures. Restrictions on mushrooms from the four prefectures nearest the breached reactors remain. Three additional prefectures, Nagano and two newly added prefectures Akita and Yamagata, face restrictions on mushrooms and a few edible wild plants.

Shortly after the March 2011 disaster importers of Japanese tea, fruits and vegetables, meats and some seafood were advised their goods would be quarantined and subject to additional tests for radioactive cesium and iodine. The cost of sampling and the lengthy delays required to test foods virtually closed the European market to perishables from half the country.

All products had to be tested before leaving Japan. All costs resulting from these checks, including the cost of sampling and analysis and any enforcement measures taken in respect of a failed consignment must be met by the importer, according to the standing committee.  Ten percent of arriving goods were examined. Costs at the English Port of Suffolk are typical, adding $400 to the price of landing a container. Items that failed tests faced an additional $185 in fees.

Few of the prefectures grow substantial quantities of tea except Shizuoka which accounts for much of the country’s production and processes tea from the nearby prefectures. It is the home to the great port of Yokohama. Shizuoka, As of April 1 Yamanashi, Niigata and Aomori no longer have to contend with restriction on tea.

The next review is March 31, 2015 at which time most of the remaining restrictions are expected to be lifted.

Source: Food Safety, Port of Suffolk, Japan News

Tea-leaf storage jar named Chigusa with mouth cover and ornamental cords Photo credit: Courtesy Freer Gallery of Art The mouth cover for Chigusa was made by Tsuchida Yuko in 2013; the cords for tying ornamental knots are from the Japanese Meiji era (late 19th–early 20th c.)

Tea-leaf storage jar named Chigusa with mouth cover and ornamental cords Photo credit: Courtesy Freer Gallery of Art The mouth cover for Chigusa was made by Tsuchida Yuko in 2013; the cords for tying ornamental knots are from the Japanese Meiji era (late 19th–early 20th c.)

Meet Chigusa, a 700-Year-Old Tea Jar

By Stephenie Overman

Introductions are in order.

Please meet Chigusa. At first glance an ordinary Chinese tea storage jar, over the course of centuries Chigusa has become one of the most revered objects of Japan’s chanoyu, or “art of tea.”

“Tea men looked at Chigusa and found beauty even in its flaws, elevating it from a simple tea jar to how we know it today,” says Louis Allison Cort, curator for ceramics at the Smithsonian Institution’s Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery.

“This ability to value imperfections in objects made by the human hand is one of the great contributions of Japanese tea culture to the world,” she said.

Only a few hundred similar tea storage jars survive and fewer still are accompanied by such a wealth of artifacts and documentation.

Japanese tea enthusiasts awarded each jar its own name, often tied to poetry or literature, as a sign of respect and reverence. The name Chigusa means “abundance of varieties” or “abundance of plants.” Since Chigusa has its own distinctive name, “we can trace its story precisely to the present day,” Cort says.

These Japanese tea enthusiasts often kept extensive diaries, which recorded detailed descriptions of Chigusa’s physical attributes and accessories, allowing contemporary scholars to see the jar through their eyes, notes Andrew M. Watsky, professor of Japanese art at Princeton University.

“Looking at, appreciating objects’ shape, size and so on was part of the pleasure of tea,” Watsky says. “They took this very seriously.”

Ciphers of past owners on the base of the tea-leaf storage jar named Chigusa Courtesy Freer Gallery of Art

Ciphers of past owners on the base of the tea-leaf storage jar named Chigusa Courtesy Freer Gallery of Art

From these extensive records, scholars know how Chigusa originated as one of countless utilitarian ceramics made in southern China during the 13th or 14th century and was shipped to Japan as a container for a commercial product.

In Japan however, Chigusa, like other Chinese storage jars, was endowed with special status, and over the years it became a highly desirable antique. One eyewitness, who saw the jar at a gathering in 1586, admired its large size and the reddish color of the clay and noted that it was a “meibutsu,” meaning “celebrated tea object.”

Chigusa is visiting the Sackler Gallery in Washington, D.C, through July 27. Chigusa then travels to the Princeton University Art Museum in the fall. The exhibition is accompanied by a book of essays by a number of authors narrating Chigusa’s 700-year-history.

In the exhibition, “Chigusa and the Art of Tea,” Chigusa holds court over other cherished objects, including Chinese and Korean tea bowls and Japanese stoneware water jars and wooden vessels that were used and enjoyed during this formative time of Japanese tea culture.

The goal of the exhibit, Cort says, is “to show the total package used in a 16th century ceremony,” based on the tea diaries.

In the 15th century participants in Japanese tea ceremonies were impressed “by the quantity of objects,” she says. But in the 16th Century – the high point of chanoyu – the emphasis was on the harmony of the objects within the group.

“There was a combination of precious and easily available objects and the contract of highly different materials. It was a powerful aesthetic experience for guests” at tea gatherings, Cort says.

For display in the tea room, Chigusa has been outfitted with accessories bestowed upon it by its successive owners: a mouth covering of antique Chinese gold-brocaded silk, a netted bag of sky-blue silk and a set of blue silk cords used to tie ornamental knots attached to the four lugs on the jar’s shoulder. A video in the exhibition follows a tea master in the elaborate process of dressing Chigusa in its adornments.

In order to create the intimate feel of a 16th-century tea gathering, and to give the sense of how the objects would fit into the space, part of the exhibition recreates a Japanese tea room.

Set of three nesting storage boxes for the tea-leaf storage jar named Chigusa Courtesy The outer storage box is the most recent, from the Meiji era (late 19th– early 20th c.). The middle box, formerly the outer box, is from the Edo period (1615–1868), and is made of cedar stained with persimmon tannin. The inner storage box, from the same time period, is made of lacquered paulownia wood. All three are Japanese, designed to nest within one another. Photo Credit: Freer Gallery of Art

Set of three nesting storage boxes for the tea-leaf storage jar named Chigusa Courtesy The outer storage box is the most recent, from the Meiji era (late 19th– early 20th c.). The middle box, formerly the outer box, is from the Edo period (1615–1868), and is made of cedar stained with persimmon tannin. The inner storage box, from the same time period, is made of lacquered paulownia wood. All three are Japanese, designed to nest within one another. Photo Credit: Freer Gallery of Art

“Tea is a living activity,” Watsky says, and visitors to the exhibit will have an opportunity to experience a traditional Omotesenke tea presentation, including the preparation of matcha, the whisked green tea made from leaves of the kind that Chigusa would have contained.

The museum acquired the 16.5-inch tall jar at auction in 2009. Believed to have been made during the Yuan dynasty, it is colored with a mottled amber glaze with four lugs on its shoulder and a cylindrical neck with a rolled lip sealed by a silk cover and secured with cord.

The jar bears four ciphers written in lacquer on its base. The oldest is attributed to Noami (1397-1471), a painter and professional connoisseur for the Ashikaga shogun. According to researchers, this suggests the possibility, otherwise unrecorded, that the jar circulated among owners close to the Ashikaga government. The next oldest cipher is that of Torii Insetsu (1448-1517) an important tea connoisseur and collector in the international trading city of Sakai, known for innovative tea activity. The next owner to inscribe his cipher was another Sakai tea enthusiast, Ju Soho, who hosted a tea in the new year of 1573 for guests, including the esteemed tea master Sen no Rikyu (1522-91).  Learn more: Chigusa and the Art of Tea 

The Arthur M. Sackler Gallery is located at 1050 Independence Avenue S.W. and the Freer Gallery of Art is located at 12th Street and Independence Avenue S.W. both on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. Hours are 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. daily, except Dec. 25. Admission is free.
Source: Smithsonian Institution

Credit Markets Active

A poll of middle-market executives by KPMG predicts an active credit market in 2014.

“Executives anticipate a shift from opportunistic deals to corporate M&A, which will be driving activity in the 2014 credit markets,” according to the U.S. audit, tax and advisory firm.

The market has been slow the past few years according to Joe Rodgers, co-head for Capital Advisory for KPMG Corporate Finance.

“With economic indicators improving over the latter part of 2013 and the credit market remaining very supportive, all signs pointed to an uptick in M&A activity for 2014 at the turn of the year,” he said. Thirty-six percent of the executives expect corporate M&A will be the primary driver. Twenty-six percent expect refinancing will drive credit markets and 23% anticipate private equity funded buyouts with 15% of the financing used for restructuring.

Tea companies routinely secure financing this time of year to insure sufficient goods for the peak sales season. Numi Organic Tea recently obtained $4.75 million to keep pace with its rapid growth in major retail outlets.

Teas from the Oakland, Calif.-based firm can be found in Whole Foods, Stop & Shop, Safeway, Target, Balducci’s and Trader Joe’s. It is also the tea of choice of Marriott and Hyatt foodservice buyers.

Business Capital, which recently provided the $4.75 million credit facility and a $750,000 seasonal over-advance, praised Numi as a company “that cares so much about their suppliers, quality of product, customer experience and our planet. This company’s financing needs were significant and were happy to deliver a solution beyond what most formula based lenders can fund against,” said Chuck Doyle, Managing Director of Business Capital.

“They took the time to understand our complex global business model and deliver a financing structure tailored to ensure the best possible outcome for Numi,” said Ahmed Rahim, CEO of Numi Organic Tea.

Triple caffeine

Triple caffeine

Zest Tea Company

Caffeine fortified Zest Tea is a new loose-leaf and bagged line developed to wake you up in the morning.

Founder James Fayal couldn’t find a traditional tea with enough caffeine to keep him alert so he blended caffeine rich teas, oils and other natural ingredients to triple the caffeine of regular black tea.

“I wanted to increase the energizing caffeine punch, but not at the expense of quality, that’s why we start all of our blends with premium base teas,” he said.

Pomegranate Mojito

Pomegranate Mojito

His proprietary blending process maintains tea’s healthy dose of tannins and antioxidants while avoiding the “jolt and crash” impact of coffee, said Fayal. A cup sustains alertness over a six to eight hour period.

Flavors include Apple Cinnamon, Earl Grey and Blue Lady black teas and Pomegranate Mojito green tea.

The project was crowd funded in a competition co-sponsored by American Express and Venture For America.

Learn more: Zest Tea

Jamba is Juiced Over Drink Green Smoothies

Jamba Juice is rolling out custom-ordered whole food blends.

The new offerings far exceed the nutritional value of carrot juice and squeezed oranges by introducing beets and kale and ginger to the menu. The Orange Fusion combines fresh-squeezed orange juice blended with whole fresh carrots with bananas, mangos, chia seeds, soy milk and nonfat Greek yogurt. An infographic on the company’s website summarizes a survey on beverage preferences that indicated 1 in 5 prefer to drink beets and dark leafy greens in juice rather than eating them whole.

Many of those who participated in the survey believe green juice to be the most nutritious juice, but are skeptical that it could also be great-tasting.

  • More than one-quarter (28%) of U.S. adults say they “fear the look” of green juice;LOGO_JambaJuice
  • Green represents the juice people drink least often
  • 32% say green juice is the one they like the least, and;
  • Only 9% of people like green juice best.

Kale, mangos, passion fruit-mango juice, chia seeds and nonfat Greek yogurt

Kale, mangos, passion fruit-mango juice, chia seeds and nonfat Greek yogurt

“Just like we should be enjoying a wide range of all the colors of the rainbow in the food we eat, drinking colorful fruits and vegetables is an easy way to satisfy your daily requirements, too. Juices made from ingredients like kale, spinach, beets and chia seeds are powerhouses of good nutrition and they can actually taste good,” said Kathleen Zelman, MPH, RD, LD and member of the Jamba Juice Healthy Living Council.

The results of the YouGov study of 2,200 Americans also highlighted a discrepancy between Baby Boomers’ and Millennials’ views on juice. Not only were Millennials more open to green juice, but also to the broader notion of drinking vegetables.

  • Millennials are twice as likely as Boomers to think that vegetables taste better in juice (39% vs 18%);
  • Millennials are twice as likely as Boomers to prefer green juice (13% vs 6%); and,
  • Millennials are twice as likely as Boomers to most often drink green juice (13% vs 6%).
  • Combined, two-thirds (66%) of Americans believe fresh-squeezed juice is healthy.

According to a 2013 report published by the USDA based on MyPlate serving suggestions, men, women and children are only eating 1/3 of the fruit (33%) and 2/3 of the vegetables (63%) they need each day.  “It gives us the opportunity to democratize this really healthy trend that is largely unattainable for most consumers because of either availability or cost,” CEO James White told CNN Money.

Whole food smoothies are available at 50 locations equipped with new juicers and mixers. Whole food juices will be available at 300 of Jamba’s 800 locations later this year.

Learn more: Jamba Juice

Tea Magazine Evolves…

Tea Magazine® a 20-year-old consumer publication for tea enthusiasts is replacing its bi-monthly print edition with a combined print +online content package for its readers, including a new book-style softcover guide to tea published annually.

LOGO_TeaMagazine_400pxIn mid-April ITEM Media will launch The Daily Tea (www.thedailytea.com) a subscription-based tea portal replacing www.teamag.com. Visitors to the site will see a mix of free and paid content, along with new articles each month, and some previously published in Tea Magazine. Subscribers have their choice of several different newsletters — for example, newsletters targeted to those interested in cooking with tea; Yoga and tea; tea travel and terroir.

Subscribers will get at least three new feature articles a month, “…the articles will be accompanied by video, behind-the-scenes interviews and picture galleries, which is a lot more than we could do in print,” said Chief Media Officer Graham Kilshaw.

Since acquiring the magazine in January 2012, “we have built the audience from just a couple of thousand to more than 30,000. Most of this growth has come from our digital platforms, and very little has come from our print media,” said Kilshaw.

“We now see an opportunity to grow our audience significantly beyond its current 30,000 people – digitally. Consequently we are going to make several changes starting in May 2014,” he said.

The 150-page book-style magazine, often referred to as a “bookazine” will have longer in-depth feature articles on science, geography and history and “great photography,” said Kilshaw. There will also be a catalog of tea products, said Kilshaw. The publication will be mailed to all subscribers and sold nationally in bookstores and by grocers including Whole Foods Market.

Chief Media Officer Graham Kilshaw

Chief Media Officer Graham Kilshaw

Annual subscriptions are $24.99 and include the new $9.99 “Tea Magazine 2015 Tea Guide” mailed annually in September.
Kilshaw was upbeat about the new direction which he described as “evolving from predominately print with a little bit of digital to becoming predominately digital with a little bit of print.”

“This is all about aligning our goals and strategy with our resources. Producing the print magazine required us to spend 80 percent of our resources on 20 percent of the content. During the past 24 months print subscriptions increased by a couple of thousand while our digital audience has grown by five times,” he said.

“The change in the mix of media is driven by our readers,” said Kilshaw. “Print generally-speaking attracts an older demographic and we want to reach a broad audience. Younger tea drinkers are forming their tea habits now, experimenting widely and trying out lots of different teas. They represent the future customers of our media clients,” he said, adding , “We want to build a very large audience for the tea community.”

The company expects to soon announce a new content manager to replace Kate Sullivan who left in December.

Learn more: www.thedailytea.com

— — —

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.