Just in time for summer and National Iced Tea Month (June), the North American Tea Championship selected 20 first-place winners in numerous categories during its annual Iced Tea Class evaluation. The championship is the only independent competition, judged by professional cuppers, to distinguish the highest quality and best tasting teas that are commercially available in the North American marketplace. Some of the winners will be featured at the upcoming World Tea Expo — the most prominent annual event for the tea industry — held June 7 – 9 in Las Vegas, Nev. at the Las Vegas Convention Center.
North American Tea Championship Judge Eliot Jordan, director of tea at Peet’s Coffee & Tea, said, “The overall cup quality standard for iced beverages is higher than it was just a few years ago. Plus, innovation has strengthened. Let’s hope these are trends that continue.”
NATC Judge Anthony Tellin, a former tea buyer/formulator for Starbucks’ Tazo and the current tea buyer and director of operations at Smith Teamaker, said, “From a consumer’s perspective, it is a great time to be a lover of iced tea. With more options and higher quality across all iced tea channels, this summer is sure to be refreshing and delicious. In fact, it made judging and choosing the best in category that much more difficult, but what a wonderful challenge to have.”
A complete list of first, second and third-place winners, as well as details on the Championship, is available at www.teachampionship.com. The next North American Tea Championship, for spring 2013 harvest teas, takes place July 2013.
Iced tea first-place winners include (company, tea and category):
QTrade Teas & Herbs (www.qtradeteas.com), Emerald Green, Foodservice Unflavored/Unsweetened Green
S&D Coffee and Tea (www.sndcoffee.com), Teafinity Sweet, Foodservice Bag-in-Box Sweetened Black
S&D Coffee and Tea (www.sndcoffee.com), Teafinity Unsweet, Foodservice Bag-in-Box Unflavored/Unsweetened Black
Art of Tea (www.artoftea.com), Summer Peach, Foodservice Flavored Black
Shangri La Tea Co. (www.shangrilaicedtea.com), Shangri La Natural, Foodservice Unflavored/Unsweetened Black
QTrade Teas & Herbs (www.qtradeteas.com), Summer Solstice, Foodservice Flavored Green
Teatulia Organic Teas (www.teatulia.com), Hibiscus Tea, Foodservice Herbal
Tiki Tea (www.tikitea.com), Apricot Papaya Strawberry, Instant Flavored Black
Waterfall Tea Company (www.waterfallteas.com), Instant Chai Latte Mix, Instant Sweetened Black
Tiki Tea (www.tikitea.com), Tiki Tea/Acai Blueberry Pomegranate, Instant Flavored Green
Mellow Monk, LLC (www.mellowmonk.com), Lightly Roasted Iced Green Tea, Instant Unflavored/Unsweetened Green
Third Street Inc. (www.thirdstreetchai.com), Organic Hibiscus Mango Ginger, Instant Herbal
Dr. Pepper Snapple Group (www.drpeppersnapplegroup.com), Snapple Half ‘n Half (Lemonade Iced Tea), Black Flavored Ready-To-Drink
H2M Beverages (www.h2mbeverages.com), Herbal Mist Iced Tea, Ready-To-Drink Sweetened Black
Crystal Geyser Water Company (www.crystalgeyser.com), Tejava Premium Iced Tea, Ready-To-Drink Unflavored/Unsweetened Black
TEAloe LLC (www.tealoe.com), TEAloe Mint, Ready-To-Drink Flavored Green
ITO EN (North America) (www.itoen.com), TEAS’ TEA Half & Half Green Tea with Lemonade, Ready-To-Drink Sweetened Green
ITO EN (North America) (www.itoen.com), TEA’S TEA Green Tea, Ready-To-Drink Unflavored/Unsweetened Green
Gizmo Beverages (www.teaofakind.com) Tea of a Kind – Pomegranate Acai White Tea, Ready-To-Drink Herbal
Evy Tea, LLC (www.teacuvee.com) Tea Cuvee Amber Oolong, Ready-To-Drink Flavored Oolong
The North American Tea Championship Iced Tea Class is evaluated once a year, and every submission is evaluated blind and through organoleptic analysis of characteristics, including flavor, body, color, clarity and balance. An overall numerical value on a 100-point scale is then calculated based on the ratings of each characteristic, and winning teas are determined by rank.
As a first-time NATC judge, Tellin said he was impressed with both the products and the competition itself. “NATC is well thought out and executed, providing categories to support different product types, formats and delivery systems; so each product is fairly judged against similar products in the marketplace,” he said. “The results allow producers to understand how their products are compared to others through impartial judging by industry professionals, something that aids tremendously in marketing, operations and product development.”
Wilbur Curtis, a leading manufacturer of tea brewers and accessories, was the host and equipment supplier for the North American Tea Championship Iced Tea Class evaluation. Global Customized Water provided 300 gallons of water for the competition.