Author Archives: peter

About peter

Peter Davenport is one of the founders of Tea Trade. In addition to building, enhancing and supporting Tea Trade and its members, he studies Business Administration and Management at American Public University with a focus on Entrepreneurial Studies and Enterprises.

Reasons to love and hate luxury tea

Luxury tea. No, we aren’t talking about most of the loose teas you buy…and we definitely aren’t talking about tea bags.  Don’t be fooled by the little pyramid bags either that claim to be the best tea around.  For those, you are paying far more for the packaging than you are for the tea.

Luxury, high-quality tea is a market that is more accessible than luxury wine, clothes, TVs, cars and homes. You can get really great tea for far less than it costs to get a really great watch. Even at the high-end level, tea is still expensive. However, it can be sold in small amounts, making it accessible if you can find it. An ounce of really good tea can often be purchased for a reasonable sum.

How often do you branch out and buy tea that is reputed to be of very high-quality?

There are a lot teas and terms out there that get hyped as fine tea, often with names you might barely understand. Oolongs, ti kwan yins, prized Yunnans, roasted dong dings from Taiwan, white tea from Darjeeling, senchas and genmaichas from Japan (the latter started as a poor man’s tea). Of each type, there can be found great ones and ordinary ones. Click through to read more about appreciating great tea

Four ounces of tea, is that enough for you?

We went down to our Local Tea Shop (LTS), the other week. The gracious owner of the shop chatted with us while she portioned out 4 ounces of Lover’s Leap, imported (fairly directly) from Sri Lanka. We took our purchase and returned home, brewed up a pot and decided that it made for a good cup of tea. So, we brewed up another pot when the first one was finished. A few days later, Jackie looked into the the little paper sack from the LTS and found that it was down to dregs and crumbs. Little flecks of tea, shaking about at the bottom of the bag practically shouting out to us, “I’m sorry, but you’ll need to buy some more.”

Four ounces of loose tea. It has become the standard in America. It is the most advertised quantity of tea found on the internet. The Europeans do it too, with their 100 grams. 100 grams actually works out to just over 3.5 ounces. Of course, it makes sense to even out that number, so the American tea industry rounded it up to four ounces.  Four ounces is actually equal to 113.4 grams.

Is that four ounces of tea enough for you? Is the industry standard of four ounces of loose tea a fair and useful quantity? Click through to keep reading

Gary Vaynerchuck, Kevin Rose and Jesse Jacobs discuss tea and wine

When Gary, Kevin and Jesse get together to taste tea and wine the result is an interesting mix of humor, intelligent discourse, and fascinating instruction. The trio met up at Jesse’s, Samovar Tea, to taste tea, wine and share their passions about each. The below video is nearly 80 minutes long, but is filled with excellent information. There are lengthy discussions about tasting wine and the similarities when it comes to tasting tea. Gary, in his usual laid-back style, makes it accessible and understandable. Jesse and Kevin bring a great combination of personal and professional knowledge about tea, tea brewing and tea cultures.

Grab a cup of tea, sit back and enjoy as these three men take us through the internet’s first combined tea and wine tasting!

Steven Smith – Teamaker

Steven Smith is an iconic figure in the American tea industry. In 1972 he co-founded Stash Tea Company, nurturing it into becoming one of America’s most recognized tea brands. After selling the company over 20 years later, he moved on to form Tazo Tea. Within a few years, Tazo was acquired by Starbucks and became the premium brand of teas available in Starbucks stores worldwide. Smith continued to develop the Tazo Tea brand and line of teas until 2006.

Now, after a few years living in Avignon, France, Mr. Smith is back in America blending teas under his own name. Bringing with him over 35 years of expert tea-blending experience. The Steven Smith Teamaker brand represents the culmination of decades of blending and creating teas for American tea drinkers

Smith’s teas are exceptional, every ingredient in the tea can be traced back to the source by the consumer. Each box is printed with a unique code, which can be entered at Smith’s website to learn the origin of each of his special and high-quality ingredients.

Smith’s skill at creating excellent teas and premium brands is unmatched in the American tea industry.

James Norwood Pratt on tea

In this video, released on in 2009, tea author James Norwood Pratt muses about tea. He comes across as a kind old gentleman in a brown leather chair, and has some cleverly quotable moments:

On learning about tea:
“The same way I would tell someone to start learning about lovemaking…”

On tea bags:
“Of course I use tea bags…it is the first line of self-defense…”

Is Fair Trade tea really fair?

What if you discovered that the Fair Trade tea in your cupboard really wasn’t fair? How would you feel? If you found out that the extra money you paid for your tea because of the Fair Trade label never really made it to the workers, would you still feel that your conscience was satisfied? Worldwide, millions of consumers, purchase Fair Trade product with a belief that the Fair Trade system works– that the extra money paid goes to fight poverty, end hunger and ensure that workers in Third World countries are getting a fair wage for their labors. Fair Trade has become a 21st-century buzzword filled with progressive promises of increased labor standards and higher levels of employee welfare. Consumers contribute to Fair Trade as a means of satisfying a desire to, “do the right thing”; “do something good.” Some even consider that buying Fair Trade products is a charitable act of duty. What if that was all wrong?

In 2008, a pair of Danish documentary filmmakers produced The Bitter Taste of Tea. It was aired on Danish television and highlighted issues and concerns that are currently ongoing in the Fair Trade tea industry. The filmmakers travelled to tea producing countries, visited tea plantations, both traditional and Fair Trade. There they uncovered some truths and realities of Fair Trade. They shake the tree and produce an image of Fair Trade that is unsettling, disturbing and even somewhat shocking.

The film made headlines throughout 2009 and is now finally available to the English-speaking world. A screening was held in January 2010 at the University of California, Los Angeles. The screening was followed by a forum discussion moderated by acclaimed tea author, Beatrice Hohenegger. We’ve reviewed the film, listened to the discussion and were surprised to learn that Fair Trade is not what we thought it was.

Click through to see images from the film to read more about issues with Fair Trade

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