Cup of Tea and a Blog

Welcome to my spot for musing about all things tea. Here you'll read reviews of quality teas, click through comments on tea rooms and shops I've visited, and see photos of leaves and cups. You’ll also find things I might talk about over a cup of tea, like philosophy, literature, current events, or fun ways to pass the time.

Location: Pacific Northwest, United States

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28 March 2006

Live from the Expo: Tuesday

Editing note, 3/30/06: I now know that "the korean dress is called a han bok (pronounced with
a long o), kimono is Japanese." I've corrected the information below. Many thanks to my friend Jan for emailing the information! :)

My taste buds were happy when I sampled some Korean tea from Hankook Tea USA, Inc. This was my first time trying Korean tea, and it was quite pleasant. I tried a green and a heavily oxidized oolong that had just been prepared. My experience with greens is limited, but the delicate airy feeling of this was wonderful. The oolong was different from the Taiwanese and Chinese oolongs (for that matter, it was different than Indian oolongs). It’s hard to describe without having a cup in front of me, but it was slightly floral with a very smooth character. The women working at the booth were charming and full of great information. Their manager and resident tea expert was wearing a beautiful han bok. She and another woman explained the different characteristics of the teas they had along, which were displayed in rough-hewn ceramic bowls. They aren’t set up yet for online ordering, but hope to be soon. Korean tea can be tough to find in the U.S., but anyone who is interested can check out their website and order via phone or email.

I picked up a few free copies of the Country Register. This is a free newspaper that is available in regional editions throughout the U.S. and Canada. I wasn’t familiar before with this publication, but my friend Marilyn (aka Marmalady) has an article in the April-May 06 Annual Tea and Food issue of the Arizona edition. If any Arizona readers pick up this issue, look for Marilyn Miller on page 6.

I never was able to get to a Chado Chef demonstration (other than eavesdropping a bit on the outskirts for a few minutes). The recipes were available in a handout, though, and here’s the one I want to try:

Yunnan Dip for Vegetable Crudités
(chef Wm. Jarvie of Johnson & Wales University)

2 cups mayonnaise
1/4 cup buttermilk/sour cream
1 tsp lemon juice
1 tbsp chili powder
1 tbsp cayenne pepper
1 tbsp Yunnan tea leaves

It doesn’t say how long to let it sit, or if the leaves need to be chopped/ground (I’m assuming not), just to whisk it all together. I’ll make an attempt soon and report back.

The winners of the iced tea competition were announced, and I noticed that Adagio, Cha Dao, and Rishi Teas all did very well. ITO EN also had quite a presence. If I read the winner’s label correctly, they took overall and won a couple of other categories. I posted about the Adagio bottled tea yesterday, and today I tried the Cha Dao bottled tea – the oolong and sencha teas were my favorite (very pure and clean) but it was their jasmine green tea that took 2nd place. Never got a chance to sample ITO EN’s teas, unfortunately.

I visited another acronym company’s booth, INT Co. Ltd., and was able to watch the Japanese tea master do his thing today, and it was quite interesting. There was a flat heated surface (about 3 or 4 feet across) with a large pile of fresh green leaves that he was gently lifting and sifting through his fingers. I heard someone nearby refer to this loose shaking as the drying and evaporating process.

The Tea & Coffee Trade Journal had a booth reserved that was just for attendees to sit and read (they had free copies of their journal available). I really appreciated having a place to sit, since finding a chair was difficult. It isn’t just the Tea Expo, it’s Las Vegas – if you’re not in front of a slot machine, it can be tough to find a place to rest your tired feet.

Something very new to me was finding out more about packaging and containers. There are companies that specialize in machines to boil large amounts of water, bag teas, or create boxes and tins that are personalized to one’s tea business. I stopped by the FUSO/NASA booth this morning to watch a spiffy tea packaging machine. They asked if I wanted a bag of tea, and I said “sure” thinking that they were going to give me one bag of tea. To my surprise, they handed me a sackful (big bag!) of bagged tea.

For those who’ve asked, I finally figured out a shortcut between my room and the Expo that takes me outside, so I can avoid the smoky casino stroll – yay! Still tough to find food, but I scoped out where the bagels are (breakfast tomorrow) and then had a nice veggie Sulu Stirfry at the Star Trek Experience.

I’ll post more either Wednesday or Thursday about my two favorite events of the day: one tea tasting with the Tea Board of India (a wonderful treat!) and another tea tasting with James Norwood Pratt. My schedule tomorrow is a seminar on Ancient tea forests in China -- then quickly checking out and catching my flight home.


Anonymous Razib Ahmed said...

My blog is about South Asian business and I am curious to know about the performance of South Asian tea companies. Is tea from South Asian countries (Bangladesh, India and Sri Lanka) popular in the States?

3:26 AM  
Blogger Cindy W. said...

Hello Razib. I'm not in the business of tea (just a lover of the leaf), but it sure seems to me that tea from South Asian countries is quite popular in the U.S. Tea from Assam and Darjeeling are probably the most well-known here, and Sri Lankan teas area available from many vendors.

Must admit I haven't ever had tea from Bangladesh, but that might just be me.

Tea business is booming in the U.S. Tea shops are opening up all over the country, and consumer interest is growing daily from what I hear.

Later today or tomorrow I'm going to be posting my notes from a tea tasting given by the Tea Board of India. They have been really promoting Nilgiri as having the new, fresh taste -- indeed, Nilgiri is making more and more of an appearance here.

I think that the Tea Board of India people might have better information about numbers and pounds of tea sold. Here is their main website:

7:25 AM  
Anonymous Razib Ahmed said...

Hi Cindy,
In 1947 when India was divided some tea gardens belonging to Assam fell in the part of Bangladesh and thus Bangladesh has almost the same quality like Assam. Lipton, Ispahani- are two of the most famous brands here.
Thanks for your detailed information.

7:45 AM  
Blogger Cindy W. said...

Thank you for giving me that information about Bangladeshi tea. I knew that Assam was near Bangladesh, but wasn't sure about the tea gardens.

I'm glad to have better knowledge now and will definitely have to find some Bangladesh tea to try. :)

8:16 AM  
Blogger anodyne said...

I can't vouch for this recipe, of course. But I have made two different cheese spreads that have tea in them. In those recipes, the tea was ground fine to be added almost like a seasoning. This was also how Lapsang Souchong became the seasoning for a squash soup (that had the tea used as an ingredient as well). I am definitely going to try this recipe! Thanks for sharing. And my own inclination is to grind the Yunnan leaf fine. But let me know if you hear or do otherwise.

6:18 AM  
Blogger anodyne said...

Just made the dip with Yunnan tea (I ground mine quite fine)'s very good, but when just made, I have a hard time 'finding' the Yunnan under the chili powder and cayenne. Will let the flavors meld overnight, though, and see what that brings forth. Certainly, since some Yunnan can be 'peppery,' it seems like this would be a good mix of flavor. I ended up using, btw, the more savory-earthy TeaSource "Golden Downey Tip" Yunnan for my first trial run.

1:57 PM  
Anonymous Arlene said...

Hi Cindy, I never read blogs but I happened upon yours because I was looking for information on The Country Register newspaper. It was interesting to read what you wrote.

I was wondering if there are many booths at the tea show regarding English teas. English fruit teas (strawberry, apricot) are the only ones I drink. It sounds like the show mainly focuses on Asian teas, is that correct?

8:42 PM  
Blogger Cindy W. said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

11:20 AM  
Blogger Cindy W. said...

edited because of a broken link

Hi Arlene -- hopefully you'll check back to read my response. :)

The Tea Expo does not exclusively focus on Asian teas, that's my own focus so it colors what I write about. Indeed, the Expo has more flavored teas (and flavorings, sprays, perfumes, classes on making flavored teas, etc) than it does straight up tea. The Tea Expo is a professional trade show, so most of the people there are learning about tea varieties and making purchases for their own business. They meet up with tea wholesalers, flavoring companies, businesses that create packaging, and more. Seminars are offered in the morning, and day-long training/certification courses take place the first day.

An important note to make here, though, is that while you describe yourself as drinking English tea you are actually drinking tea that is grown primarily in Asian countries (and a few African ones), and is then blended in England. Most of what we think of as British tea is Assam (India), Ceylon, or Sri Lankan black tea blended with or without flavoring. I'm assuming you like tea that is blended with fruit flavors? If not, and it's just the herbs and flavors with no tea involved, you are drinking "tisanes" (herb/spice drinks).


P.S. There are several U.S. and Canadian companies that offer great English-style teas, both bagged and loose. I highly recommend these online companies:

SpecialTeas, where I purchase most of my assams (and used to be quite fond of their Sunday blend, with bits of vanilla)

Adagio, offering exceptional teas for a great price

Tea Trader, they carry a wonderful Ginger & Pieces tea)

UptonTea, with a vast catalog of just about everything, all available in sample sizes so you can try lots of new teas without breaking the bank.

11:43 AM  

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