Tickets for the 2014 Coffee & Tea Fest NYC sold out well in advance of the weekend event, and next year will mark its 10th year. Reports estimated some 7,000 attendees with approximately 80 exhibitors. Among the coffee, tea, chocolate, cheese, and other companies, what did the Fest hold for those looking for pure, single origin teas? Quite a bit. There were several offering unflavored, un-blended, single origin loose leaf teas that you may want to keep on your radar.
1. Ajiri Tea. From the Kisii district of Kenya. Profit goes to fund education of local orphans. It is hard to be certain, but it does seem Ajiri processing skill has improved. A sip of their tea seemed smoother, less harsh than in years’ past.
2. Firsd Tea. The U.S. office of Zhejiang Tea Group Ltd., a Chinese tea company with over 50 years of experience. They had a very nice Da Hong Pao, but I suspect their forte includes Anji bai, longjing, other eastern Chinese greens.
3. Health & Tea. An emphasis on the health aspect of teas, but they had some flavorful Taiwan oolong, and knew where in Taiwan it came from. I stopped by another booth where they could only say: “This tea comes from Taiwan.”
4. Jeni’s Teas. Very good Taiwanese teas. Jeni promotes tea appreciation, education, and tastings. She has access to Thomas Shu‘s network of Taiwan teas, so her offerings are exceptional . Their Oriental Beauty and Fo Shou Oolong were impressive.
5. Joseph Wesley Teas. High-quality, single-origin, estate grown craft tea. After working in western China, Joe travels to origin. He offers a higher grade of lapsang souchong, not the over-smoked version you sometimes find.
6. My Zen Tea. Quality pu’er and white teas. The U.S. branch of Miao Yin Zhen Tea (妙音禅). The parent company appears to have extended connections to pu’er producers. I got a small taste of one of their sheng pu’ers.
7. Simply Good Tea. Tea subscription of quality teas in daily-sized packs. Personalized variety sent each month. This system stands out as a tea subscription service with stronger potential. You get to choose the teas in the shipment. Theoretically, you could get 30 of the same daily-use 7 g individual packets. One packet re-steeped through the day means you pay less than $1 per day.
8. The Meaning of Tea. Teas that tell a story. A curated set of teas from around the world. Their Golden Monkey is a perennial favorite among their fans.
10. Yezi Tea. Fine teas from the mountains of China and Taiwan. Bringing the craft of tea farmers and their stories. Several of their teas have received strong reviews, and acclaim from the larger tea community.
Overall, the impression I got was that tea received as much (if not more) of the crowd’s overall attention as coffee.
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