Thursday, September 24, 2009

Samovar "Magalog"

I recently had the opportunity to write the copy for Samovar's new magazine/catalog hybrid. If you've seen content-driven catalogs from companies like Patagonia and Zappos, this is like that for the tea world. You can check it out below (if not for my copy, then for the gorgeous images the photographer and graphic designer came up with!), or pick up a copy at any of Samovar's locations.

Here's a link for the full-size magalog.

PS -- If you're interested in having me develop content for your tea business, contact me at vee (at) veetea (dot) com.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Natural Flavors Primer

Just in time for Expo East, I wrote a new article on natural flavors for tea. It covers what different names mean, how they're made and what to look for in a "naturally flavored" tea vendor. Excerpt:

Natural – A natural flavor from a single source, derived with an approved solvent, such as water or ethyl alcohol (a consumable alcohol). Boehmer said natural flavors often use propylene glycol (a substance that occurs naturally in foods in very small quantities, but which is derived from petroleum) as a carrier.

With Other Natural Flavors (WONF)
– A natural flavor (such as lemon) that is blended with natural flavors from other sources (such as other citrus fruits). According to Vorsheim, the above example would be labeled as “natural lemon flavor with other natural flavors.”

Natural-Type Flavors – Natural flavors that mimic the taste of a particular natural ingredient without actually containing that ingredient. For example, a “natural apple-type flavor” may be a blend of natural flavors from fruits other than apples. According to Boehmer, if a tea blend contains a natural-type flavor and does not contain its namesake flavor (apple) or the flavor source (dried apple bits) as an ingredient, it must be labeled as “artificially apple-flavored with natural flavors.”

Natural Organic Program Compliant (NOP-Compliant) Flavors
– Natural flavors that are made from organic-compliant materials. According to Boehmer, all ingredients must be from non-genetically-modified sources and must be organic compliant. Boehmer said the USDA only allows oil carriers such as organic soybean oil, as well as glycerin or alcohol extracted from organic, non-GMO plant materials for NOP-compliant flavors.

You can read the full article on World Tea News.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Tea & Coffee Trade Journal

It's always a treat to go to a favorite restaurant, hotel or spa and find that they serve great tea. However, for tea vendors, getting into top restaurants and other venues can be very difficult. I recently had the opportunity to write on the subject.

If you subscribe to Tea & Coffee Trade Journal, be sure to check out my two-part article on getting your tea into high-end channels (such as award-winning restaurants, hotels and spas). The two-part piece includes interviews with top people from In Pursuit of Tea, Tavalon, Adagio, Mighty Leaf, Art of Tea and more. Part one is general advice for getting into top outlets/servers and specific tips on working with restaurants. Part two will go into more detail about other high-end channels and how to sell your teas to them.

PS -- If you don't already subscribe, you can buy the issue individually -- it's in the current issue (September) and the next issue (October).

Monday, September 21, 2009

Kilinoe Green Hawaii-Grown Tea

A while back, I wrote a press release for Kilinoe ("Misty Mountain") Green Hawaii-Grown Green Tea from Narien Teas. It's a very enjoyable tea and a strong sign of Hawaii as a significant new tea terroir, so I thought I'd review it here.

The Leaves:
Wiry and dark with silver tips
The Brew: Clean and clear; befitting the taste, it's the color of a Bosc pear
The Aroma: Light and clean, like a just-ripe Bosc pear, with touches of clover honey and farm notes of fresh-tilled soil and dry plant matter
The Flavor: Light, fresh, clean and sweet with a slight flavor of fall grasses, some pear notes and a hint of raw walnut halves
The Finish: Lush gardenia flavors with clove, violets, nuts and a touch of minerality

This tea starts at $9 from Narien Teas. They have some very unusual teas, including Kilinoe and Kokeicha green tea (not a mis-spelling of Kukicha, I promise... it's and extruded form of matcha paste that brews like tealeaves). Oh, and they sell tea seeds. Cool company -- check them out!