Well, well – back from the Tea Expo and back into an insanely rushed 5 week course at UNT. But, I had to get it done. I am a bit late with the news and review for the Expo, but here goes. It was marvelous – of course! The new venue in Long Beach was a nice change from the awful hot of Las Vegas. It was really nice that after three years, folks on the show floor actually recognized me from previous Expo’s. I took that as a good sign. I am always amazed at the new items and niche items the vendors bring for display. There was some outstanding packaging ideas – which I have been seeking, and some delicious products such as icing made from tea and herbals by The Modern Girl Tea group! Those girls were busy dishing out the samples. It took me three days to get to the booth, but it was well worth it. There is always new tea maker products and this year the vendor with the crowd was Alpha Dominche with their Steampunk Tea Brewing System. I just might have to get me one of those….. Here is a YouTube link for the ‘Steampunk Machine’. This is demonstrated for coffee, but the system can be used for tea as well. Since tea – good tea – requires brewing at the correct temperature and for the correct length of time to enjoy the tea at its best, this system is really cool.
The educational courses offered this year were top-notch. I enjoyed a class with Scott Svihula, Tea-smith, China Mist Tea Company about problems that can happen in the process and handling of tea that seriously effect the taste. Scott’s courses are always outstanding and I learned much about identifying the processing errors. The Expo is never complete without taking a Legal Course for all of the new rules, regulations, and laws that affect the tea industry. This course was presented magnificently by Mr. Dan Dwyer of Partner, Kleinfeld, Kaplan and Becker. If this is the only class I can attend, it always has something new that affects the tea business and as a retailer, new regulations we must follow for advertising and labeling our products. I think though, I have to say my favorite course this year was the Pairing Cheese and Chocolate with Tea taught by Chef Robert Weischner. It was one of the most informative and educational for this year and for the future of our tea business. I will be incorporating these tastings in my product presentations going forward!
For those of us who may find goat cheese a bit ‘strong’, paired with the right tea, that bite is lessened and a good goat or blue cheese is very enjoyable. Of course my mind was running faster than I could keep up with in ideas for doing Tea Parties using chocolates and cheeses. I will have to work on the format for that one. There is a new coffee-house opening in Pilot Point, Texas that may be interested in hosting these pairing parties – we shall have to look into that possibility.
The World Tea Tour – with tastings involving 25+ teas from 7 countries, is always a delightful way of starting the program. I can never hear enough from folks like: Jane Pettigrew, Rona Tison, and Thomas Shu and his lovely wife.
My stay on The Queen Mary was great – except for the fire drill about 5:00pm on Saturday – that was a bit strange. But, the ship does have her own stories of ‘odd happenings’.
Well – back to work! 9 Lives Tea House is making a huge leap! We are in the process of developing our own label of teas. We will let you know when they are ready to ship. It has been a long-time coming, but we are finally ready to take the leap.
In the meantime – ‘Find Your Zen and Do The Brew’ – Everyone, Tip Those Tea Cups!
Judith A. Ames-Hardman
9 Lives Tea House
The Great State of Texas