Tea Makes Strong Showing at Seattle Coffeefest


A dozen tea suppliers, ink black water and a newly introduced coffee-tea blend drew the attention of coffee professionals at the Seattle Coffeefest tradeshow.

Two hundred and eighty exhibitors attracted 5,000 attendees to the Washington State Convention Center for the 20th edition of the show Sept. 23-25.

Amjadkhan “AP” Pathan, Marketing and PR and Shah, right.

Devan Shah, CEO and Founder of International Tea Importers, taught two courses: The Apprentice Tea Sommelier Program and a more sophisticated three-hour Organo Leptic Analysis of Tea. A veteran of several coffee shows, Shah says “there is more and more interest in tea than ever.” He demonstrated the ease of a loose leaf program and is selling a lot of teas in pyramid bags “now that the cost has dropped to 12- or 15-cents. “Wine-inspired teas are the best sellers and wellness blends,” says Shah. Shop owners are also interested in Ayurvedic herbs such as ashwagandha, which is recommended as a cleanser.

Steve Schwartz, founder of The Art of Tea is an Ayurvedic master. He reported strong interest in vitality teas formulated for men and women. The women’s blend is a non-caffeinated Shatavari while the men’s tea is Pu-erh based.

Tiesta Tea
Dan Klein, left and Patrick Tannous.

Tiesta Tea founders Patrick Tannous and Dan Klein reported great results with a new $250 to $1000 Flavor your Café! program that packages teas, brewing equipment and serving thermos for coffee shops. “First day we sold six on the spot,” says Tannous. “It’s tea simplified,” he added, “Tea can be complex and this group is not interested in first flush Darjeeling, our Fruity Pebbles Green Tea Slenderizer is a big seller.”

Two Leaves and a Bud introduced new packaging and a website rich with information. The company’s new slogan: Go There ties consumers to origin stories and the firm is working hard to source locally, shifting from African peppermint to peppermint grown in Oregon. A new two-sachet pillow-pack for $1.99 encourages sampling and is ideal for the hospitality industry.

Tetulia’s individually wrapped teas are packaged in a eucalyptus and aspen biofilm that is compostable at home. Elizabeth Lipsius also described new display cases made of reclaimed beetle kill pine. Boring beetles make the trees unsuitable for construction but make beautiful boxes. The firm’s well shaded and herb-friendly tea acreage in Bangladesh continues to expand by about 50 acres a year, she says, providing essential jobs with minimal impact on the environment.

Chris Merry, president and founder of The Chain Company in Delta, British Columbia, noted strong interest in less-sweet green tea and spicy oolong chai. “The palate is evolving from sticky sweetness to stronger flavors that are healthier,” he says.

Adrianne Hankinson, who operates Caffe Sorelle in Puyallup, Wash., was pulling shots of a Koffietti Gourmet Beverage billed as the "Joy of Real Coffee with the Benefits of Real Tea." The Tacoma-based firm’s invention is flavored and served with steamed milk. The base is an oolong and the most popular flavor is Blueberry Fusion which Hankinson has been selling since this summer for $2 in a 16-oz. cup. Consumer response is solid, she says with regulars raving about the complex flavor. “This summer a 14-gram double shot over ice to make iced tea was very popular,” she says.

New Product Winners

First Place – Monin Gourmet Flavorings (New Monin Pie Syrups)
Second Place – Boulder Cafe Supply (J J Cocomel's)
Third Place -Big Train (Fit Frappe)

First Place – Vessel Drinkware (One Vessel reusable drink ware)
Second Place – I Know Hope (Grande Messenger Bag)
Third Place – Simply Lids (Simply Lids)

Fulvic acid is a naturally occurring chemical that turns spring water pitch black. The water tastes like ordinary mineral water, contains no coloring or artificial ingredients. The novelty of the Blk. brand caused a sensation on the floor.

It is offered by iEffectChange.com a Langley-British Columbia based firm incorporated to generate revenue for charitable causes. Principal Allan Klassen encouraged skeptical samplers to try the dark side chilled. The water comes in three flavors and offers a number of health benefits, according to Black Beverages.

Other tea vendors exhibiting included Republic of Tea, Metropolitan Tea Co., MyChai, Novus Tea and Oregon Chai.

Dan Bolton

About Dan Bolton

Dan Bolton edits STiR Tea & Coffee Industry International. He was formerly editor and publisher of World Tea News and former editor and publisher of Tea Magazine and former editor-in-chief of Specialty Coffee Retailer. He is a beverage retail consultant and frequent speaker at industry seminars and conferences. His work has appeared in many beverage publications. He was a newspaper reporter and editor for 20 years prior to his career in magazines. Dan is the founding editor of Natural Food magazine and has led six publishing ventures since 1995. He lives in Winnipeg, Canada.