Happy International Tea Day everyone! This is the first official observance of this international day. For those who don’t know, this isn’t just a day to celebrate your tea love. This day was created to put a focus on the needs of tea workers, the industry, the importance of sustainability, and the worldwide impact of tea economically as well as culturally.
Brief Tea Day History
An unofficial International Tea Day was celebrated in 2005 in New Delhi. It is now an official day of observance each May 21 as decreed by the United Nations General Assembly:
“In 2015, during a meeting in Milan, Italy, the IGG on Tea discussed the idea of an International Tea Day. The proposal was then endorsed by the FAO Committee on Commodity Problems (CCP) and subsequently adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in December 2019” - Wikipedia
Drought, Prices and Hard Times for Tea Workers
The tea industry has been hard hit by recent droughts and fires that have actually destroyed some ancient tea trees particularly in the Yunnan province. (Check out my Tea from a Drought Year post.)
When you see a higher price point for some of your favorite teas, especially the rare ones, understand that there are plantations and workers who have been dealing with reduced harvests and lack of employment prior to covid-19 because of drought and fire damage. The cost increases are justified considering the smaller yields. The taste of the tea when it has gone through a drought is really unique it is and worth the higher price point for that too.
To learn even more about this official day check out the United Nations site. There was also a webcast today by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN (FAO) bringing together professionals from major tea producing countries around the world. They discuss tea varieties and how they are part of cultural events and pay homage to those who have passed on the love of tea from generation to generation. You can see the webcast here: http://www.fao.org/webcast/home/en/item/5271/icode/
There’s been a lot of talk about mindfulness in regard to health and how we view our world. International Tea Day is a great opportunity to appreciate the beverage you love, the earth that nurtured it, and all of the human hands that came together to bring it to you. In some ways tea really does bring the world together.
Share a picture of your tea or tell us what you are drinking in social!
It was great to re-visit the LA Tea Festival this year in a new space - The Magic Box at The Reef in Downtown Los Angeles. This was the first tea festival I ever attended and covered.
I was also thrilled to reconnect with some of the people who jump started my deep dive into tea. James Norwood Pratt is a tea educator, speaker, writer and sommelier. He has a palpable passion for tea and for sharing the joy of it. We got to catch up after one of his classes and you can watch the interview below to learn how the tea revolution is spreading across the US.
Musical performances, dance and a tea bar have been added to the festival festivities. Of course the bar had tea infused cocktails. I had one with a tea infused Jameson. Yes, I wanted another one!
There were some familiar vendors from previous years, like Waterfall and Nepal Tea, and numerous ones I had not seen before. I was introduced to some new products and will share the experience with you as I work through my tea haul. Let me know if there is a particular product you are curious about.
I covered the fest when it was at the Japanese American Museum (and had a Hello Kitty truck). Being it is August in SoCal, I'm sure all of the vendors were thrilled to be indoors with AC this year. I was.
Time to put the kettle on. Yeah, it's August in SoCal , but my love for tea transcends sweat. Cheers!
This is not a sponsored post
When you think of something called the FitExpo it may bring to mind testosterone and steroids, men made of muscle and women kickboxing their way to their best butt ever. Yes, there were best arm competitions, workout classes and the Marines were there with their chin-up challenge but there were many people there who were just starting their fitness exploration and even families just looking for healthier options. This was most apparent in the food and beverage section.
This was my first time at the FitExpo LA and I had a feeling I would encounter tea somewhere in the sea of booths, and sea of people. Someone likened it to a night at a club just set in a convention center. They were accurate. It was like moving through a crowded amusement park, just with the majority of people having almost double the shoulder width of the average person. I even ran into an awesome wrestler I’ve seen live at Lucha Underground, Brian Cage! (yes, I am a proud wrestling fan) His catch phrase is “he’s not a man, he’s a machine!” In person I can see why!
Still I found a few companies hawking their tea wares. First up:
The guys working for Honest Tea had great attitudes and seemed to be having a good time sharing tea with the FitExpo’s many, many attendees. They had some of their line of RTD (ready to drink) teas with an iced focus.
Organic Unsweet Peach Ginger Tea
SCENT - peachy nose, fragrant, satisfying scent
TASTE – Ginger mutes the sweetness of the peach, but doesn’t kill it. Slight bitterness but not overpowering. The first time I had it I felt it was more bitter than the second time. It may have been where my palate was at the time, what I had eaten, etc. Tea flavor is light to mid-level – not robust. If you prefer your tea with additional flavors and no sugar this may fit you.
Organic Honey Green
SCENT – faint nose, minute green and honey notes
TASTE – It is said to be ‘a tad sweet’. This may be true in comparison to the American palate, as it is 19g sugar per bottle compared to many RTD drinks that have 30-60g per bottle. If you are used to your tea without sweetener this may taste sweeter to you that just a tad. There is sugar in the ingredients as well and that taste is more forward with the honey a ghost in the background. Green tea flavor is very light.
Pomegranate Blue Flavored Herbal Tea
What does blue flavor taste like? I think is referring to the use of organic blueberry juice concentrate, but I thought it sounded funny.
SCENT – Smells like a fruit punch
TASTE- Tastes like a fruit punch. There is no tea here and the ingredients include organic pomegranate and concord grape juice concentrates so that makes sense. It is a satisfying fruity taste with moderate sweetness at 23g per bottle. Sugar is the second ingredient after water so this is not juice, per se. The hibiscus doesn’t add too much bite thankfully. It is essentially adult fruit punch with a bit less sugar.
Aged Earl Grey
SCENT – This RTD smells like tea. The bergamot doesn’t drown the tea itself, but acts like a partner which is great.
TASTE – It is also great that they indicate it is an Assam tea base. The tea taste is milder than the tea scent, which is surprising considering it is an Assam which is known for boldness. The flavors are well blended and it is closer to a home brewed iced tea than most and only has 14g sugar per bottle.
Matcha with Monkfruit
Lakanto is mainly a supplier of monk fruit as a sweetener. They created a Matcha powder you mix with milk of choice that has their monk fruit in it. This is far from a traditional Matcha experience. It is more of a bridge for the sugar-dipped western palate looking for a sugar alternative. The monk fruit is the focus here rather than the tea. Monk fruit is touted as zero glycemic index and zero calorie yet can replace sugar in equal amounts. In their Matcha it has a malty result. The packet I tried indicated it was to be mixed with 8oz. of milk substitute. I used regular milk because right now it is my preference and how I am rolling. I found it to be too sweet for my palate. I prefer the traditional grassy taste of traditional Matcha but the sweetener itself is intriguing. It has a natural taste free of the bitterness of many other sugar substitutes. I would just prefer being able to choose the amount I use so the pre-measured thing isn’t for me. This is in the sweetness level category of a Starbucks drink, but without the calories or sugar spike.
If fitness and healthy living are of interest to you, the FitExpo is still making it’s way through many major cities in the US with Philadelphia, Chicago, San Jose, Anaheim and San Diego still on deck for 2018. Maybe you’ll find some tea gems I missed. Cheers!
This is not a sponsored post
by Cassandra Vincent
Tea fests are a great excuse to get together with other tea lovers and explore both beloved flavors and new tastes. It is always good to see Bana Tea, Harney & Sons, Glenburn Estate (love their Monsoon Darjeeling), Chado and the Master of the Oolong, Thomas Shu of JT & Tea. At the most recent LA International Tea Festival I met a few new faces:
A medical professional and a tech professional share a love for tea and a new East coast tea line is born carrying a wide range of teas in every category including yellow and puerh.
Ceylon tea is one of my favorite single origin teas. Basilur tea is focused on Ceylon tea in various beautiful packaging options including ornate tins and decorative foil bags. I tried a mango and pineapple version. Though I don’t usually like fruit in tea this was surprisingly well balanced with that deep yet floral Ceylon tea flavor coming through loud and clear. www.thebasilurtea.com
Denong tea Inc. is the US branch of parent company Denong Tea Company, and specializes in puerh teas of which I tried 3 each with distinctively different characteristics yet all were smooth. One of those teas was from a wild grown tea tree and another from trees hundreds of years old. The oldest of the trees they source is in excess of 2,700 years old. If that tree could talk! www.denongtea.com
Waterfall Tea - chai
Waterfall tea line is not new to the LA Tea Fest but has a new powdered Urban Chai line including a lemograss flavor and a ginger flavor that was surprisingly authentic tasting. I don’t usually expect a powdered chai to have a traditional taste but these had the thick, creaminess and powerful black tea flavor of a chai from a real Indian restaurant. Being the owners are Indian themselves (The Shah family) they know what authentic flavor is and created a powdered version that stands up well.
Caravan Tea carries single origin teas. I tried a Himalayan Gold which was deliciously ballsy and another called Dark Rose from Hunan, China (fermented though not called puerh in this case) which had a very natural, light touch of rose that allowed the tea’s smooth, earthy yet mellow character to shine. www.caravan-tea.com
Nepal Tea is a single origin organic line inspired by family and a desire to give not just the joy of tea but improvement of life for the people and earth involved in the growing of it. Beautiful images on natural looking packaging with both loose leaf and bagged options. I tried a very satisfying Kanchanjangha Noir black tea that was robust, full bodied, a tad woodsy and sweet – worth drinking straight up or with milk. I also tried a White Prakash that was delicious at both a 1 min and 3 min steep. My palate caught vegetal tones and a touch of smokiness in the background. www.nepalteallc.com
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