Tea Championship IDs 16 Best Hot Teas
The North American Tea Championship (NATC) selected the 16 best, premium hot teas from the fall 2014 harvest.
The evaluation -- the only independent and professionally-judged tea competition in North America -- was held Feb. 26-27 in Las Vegas. All of the teas are available in the marketplace.
Companies that took home an esteemed first-place award include: The Tea Kings, Glenburn Tea Direct, Mountain Tea Co., Garden to Cup Organics, Nepali Tea Traders, Chico Chai, Florapharm Tea-USA LP, and La Crème Coffee & Tea.
"What makes NATC so helpful in defining benchmark teas is that there is not only comparison but also context, with the combined palate memories, tea experience and tea knowledge -- of origins, varietals, processing methods -- of several evaluators, tasting together," said Lydia Kung, an NATC evaluator, tea buyer and expert with Eastrise Trading Corp./VeriLeaf LLC in Monrovia, Calif.
Brewing Up Flavor
As evidenced by the large number of entries into competition, flavored black teas continue to be popular. Also, oolong teas remain “an underappreciated category,” Kung said. “This is a tricky category and for good reason: The teas are complex in the making and in the tasting. A small number of incorrect submissions indicates that the very processing methods that produce such a wonderfully wide range of flavors in oolong teas need wider dissemination and understanding."
All NATC tea submissions were evaluated blind and through organoleptic analysis of the following characteristics: dry leaf, brewed color, brewed aroma, brewed flavor, brewed mouth-feel and brewed harmony. An overall numerical value on a 100-point scale was then calculated based on the ratings of each characteristic. Winners were determined by rank.
First-place winners include:
(Category: Company/Website, Name of the Winning Tea)
Aged/Baked Oolong: The Tea Kings (theteakings.com) Traditional Coal Fired Tieguanyin Wulong
Assam: Glenburn Tea Direct (GlenburnTeaDirect.com), Khongea Assam Goldent Tips GFBOP
Bai Hao/Oriental Beauty:Oriental Beauty Mountain Tea Co. (mountaintea.com), Oriental Beauty Limited Edition
Breakfast Blend: Garden to Cup Organics (gardentocup.com), Quatrain Breakfast Blend
Blended Black Tea with Other Botanicals: Garden to Cup Organics (gardentocup.com), Black Rose Garden
Black Tea: Nepali Tea Traders (NepaliTeaTraders.com), Himalayan Golden
Chai: Chico Chai (chicochaitea.com), Original Chico Chai
Black Tea-CTC: Glenburn Tea Direct (GlenburnTeaDirect.com), Khongea Assam CTC
Darjeeling: Florapharm Tea-USA LP (florapharmteausa.com), Organic Junpana Wonder Muscatel
Dark Oolong Tea: Garden to Cup Organics (gardentocup.com), Wenshan Baozhong
Earl Grey : Garden to Cup Organics (gardentocup.com), Majestic Earl Grey
Flavored Black Tea: Florapharm Tea-USA LP (florapharmteausa.com), Spring Fragrance
Flavored Oolong Tea: La Crème Coffee & Tea (lacremecoffeeandtea.com), Peach Oolong Tea
Flavored Rooibos Tea:Florapharm Tea-USA LP (florapharmteausa.com), Desert Blossom
Green Jasmine Open Leaf: Garden to Cup Organics (gardentocup.com), Moonlight Jasmine
Green Oolong Tea: Garden to Cup Organics (gardentocup.com), Orchid Oolong
A complete list of first, second and third-place winners of the North American Tea Championship is available online.
Honorees will be featured at the NATC Winners Tasting Circle at World Tea Expo (WorldTeaExpo.com), May 6 – 8 at the Long Beach Convention Center, Long Beach, Calif.
The next NATC will be held in June for iced teas. To inquire about entering the competition, e-mail [email protected]