Joe Simrany Recognized for Lifetime Achievement


Joe Simrany, long-time president of the Tea Association of the USA, is the 2012 recipient of the Cha Jing Lifetime Achievement Award presented annually by World Tea Media.

The presentation will be 6 p.m., Tuesday, Oct. 2 at the World Tea East Networking reception in the Ballroom of the Philadelphia Downtown Marriott.

Simrany, 68, has presided over the Association and its affiliate, the Tea Council of the U.S.A., Inc. as well as the Specialty Tea Institute since 1991.  Simrany has announced that he is retiring in January 2014.  He will be succeeded by Executive Vice President Peter Goggi, the former head tea buyer for Lipton Tea.

“We created the Cha Jing award last year to recognize those who have given us all so much.  The 2011 recipient, John Harney, remains one of the leading pioneers in the specialty tea market, but the award was given due to his tremendous help to so many others,” said George Jage, World Tea Media Founder & Director.

He explained that "to continue to move this award forward as a celebration for the community and by the community, we created a Cha Jing Award Committee with inaugural members, Bill Waddington, Mike Harney, Bruce Richardson, Kim Jage and myself."

“After more than two decades of service, this is a much deserved and warranted recognition,” said Jage. "Joe’s service to both the traditional and the specialty segments of the market will create a unique opportunity for the entire industry to come together for this celebration," he added. “It hardly seems that long ago, but in 2002, I flew out to New York, barged into his office and said ‘we are going to start a trade show for tea, and we need your support.’  He didn’t blink an eye and said yes. “

“We are indebted to Joe for his support,” said Jage.

"Joe Simrany has been one of the leading voices for tea's renaissance over the two decades I have worked with him. His leadership has been a catalyst for tea's amazing growth in American culture," said The Tea Maestro Bruce Richardson, author, consultant and owner of Elmwood Inn Fine Teas in Danville, Ken.

Blessing"Two of Joe’s accomplishments stand out for me; one of which a lot of people are aware of, and one of which a lot of people aren’t," recalls TeaSource Founder Bill Waddington.

"First, Joe was a pioneer in organizing tea origin trips. The first, to Sri Lanka in 2003, was a huge success. I brought back huge duffle bags full of Lumbini Silver Needles and friendships and connections that have served me very well," said Waddington.

"It also showed that small specialty retailers could network and source direct with growers. This kind of experience is commonplace now, but Joe was one of the first to make this possible," he said.

"Second, countless times Joe has been an advocate for all of us, in front of the powers that be. Whether testifying before Congress, being involved with government backed research, or interfacing with numerous government agencies, Joe has fought tirelessly for all of our interests, and most us were never aware of it.  We are all in his debt," said Waddington.

Among his more noteworthy accomplishments is his leadership in promoting the health advantages of tea to the public and imparting tea knowledge and skills to tea professionals.

To accomplish the latter, he was instrumental in merging the Specialty Tea Registry (formed in 1996) with the American Premium Tea Institute in 2002 to create the Specialty Tea Institute dedicated to the training and professional development of the Specialty Tea Industry.

Health Benefits

Promoting the health benefits of tea is viewed as the single most significant step in revitalizing the tea industry.

Sales topped $8 billion last year, up from $1.9 billion in 1991 and projected to reach $15 billion within five years. The United States today is the second largest importer of tea (behind Russia) and the sixth largest tea consuming country.

Simrany seized this opportunity shortly after he was named president and has tirelessly sought to associate tea consumption with a great many health benefits as a means of raising consumer awareness.

“Over the last decade or two, tea has made many inroads into America driven by new forms, new availability, the promise of health benefits, the appeal of its varied flavor profiles, the promise of profitability, and its tremendous versatility.

“While significant gains have already been made, the industry remains under-appreciated by many consumers and the "fight" to expand its presence in America has a long way to go,” he says.

Marketing tea on the basis of health globally began with the Bermuda Accord in 1992 – an agreement between Tea Councils in the USA, UK, and Canada to cooperate on funding scientific research to uncover the various health benefits of consuming tea. This accord took place during a special meeting at the Annual Tea Association of the USA Convention held that year in Bermuda. The concept was adopted and endorsed by the United Nations FAO and partially funded by the World Bank for Commodities.

But Simrany advises: “Don't convert tea from a pleasurable beverage into a medicine. Remember the primary reason why consumers drink tea is because they like the taste or how it makes them feel.”

Tea Tasting at Kenilworth Estate, Sri LankaTireless Advocate Here and Abroad

Recognized for his work around the globe, Simrany is a long-distance traveller who logs tens of thousands of miles on visits to tea growing regions where he is frequently asked to address conferences and share the strategies that have catapulted tea to new heights of popularity in the U.S.
Global responsibilities include his appointment as a Director of the International Tea Committee in London and his role as honorary Ambassador of China Tea by the Organizing Committee of the 2011 International Tea Convention in Hangzhou, China.

In May 2010 he was elected First Vice Chairperson of the 19th Session of the Intergovernmental Group on tea meeting in New Delhi, India

The path to Washington, D.C. is also well worn as Simrany has worked tirelessly with government regulatory agencies and legislators on issues of importance to the USA tea industry.

Simrany also worked closely with government officials to address serious concerns about terrorism; the "Great Bacteria Scare" of 1995-96; government allegations of abuses of worker rights in 2002 and many other incidents. Concern over the use of pesticides led to the Agricultural Plant Protection initiative, a cooperative venture with the UK and Canada to focus the attention of producing countries on the proper use of these pesticides and herbicides.

Simrany is credited with spearheading a meeting of 12 of the world's regulatory agencies to discuss the harmonization of standards of tea. The goal is adoption of common minimum residue levels (MRLs) for specific substances, a project jointly supported by Australian and Canadian tea organizations.

He is also part of a United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) Working Group tasked with changing how the world's regulatory authorities test for agro-chemical residues in tea from leaf to cup.

Other notable accomplishments include:

  • Designating January national Hot Tea Month and Iced Tea Month in June.
  • Oversight of publicity programs that regularly generate in excess of 1 billion positive consumer impressions for tea annually.
  • His support for the Nepalese concept of a Uniform Code of Conduct for the tea industry. He is a staunch advocate for its expansion globally.

Highlights of his long career can be found here.

The nominating committee wishes to thank him for his considerable contributions to our industry: “The work Joe does each and every day effects everyone in the industry — from the growers to the independent retailers. More often than not, that work is unannounced. Let's take this opportunity to recognize and applaud Joe for fuelling our industry and aiding each of our own businesses.”

The Cha Jing Lifetime Achievement Award recognizes and celebrates individuals who have made considerable contributions to the growth, innovation and education of the specialty tea industry throughout their lifetime.

The World Tea East Networking Reception is from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m., Tuesday, Oct. 2 in the Philadelphia Marriott Ballroom. Click here to register.

Award sponsors include:  Ito En, Haelssen & Lyon North America, Martin Bauer Group.