Meet David De Candia, Global Tea Championship Judge

David DeCandia has been with the Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf for 11 years, where he is the Senior Manager of Tea and Master Tea Blender and buyer. He also formed the company’s training and certification programs, which educate its 850 retail employees about tea.

  • What sparked your interest in tea?

I was just curious.

  • How/where did you learn about tea?

Mostly self taught. Then trips to origin.

  • What kind of tea research have you done and what are some of your findings?

Have not done documented research.

  • What are your criteria for judging the hot tea (i.e., quality, color, aroma, taste)? (For the hot tea judges.)

Flavor, color, aroma. Hot

  • What are you criteria for judging the iced tea (i.e., quality, color, aroma, taste)? (For the iced tea judges.)

Flavor, color. Iced

  • What are your criteria for serving packaged single-served tea (i.e., quality, color, aroma, taste)? (For the packaged single-served tea judges.)

Single serve color, aroma and flavor.

  • Is there a common thread among the teas that have won in the past?

Common threads. Iced leaned towards the pure teas. Hot leaned towards the blends.

  • For how many years have you been judging this competition?

Judging since the Take Me to Tea Expo started and the Hong Kong Tea Fair.

  • Do you judge any other tea competitions?

Hong Kong. USA tea grown comp.

  • What are some changes you have seen in this competition over the years? (For those who have judged before.)

Quality has improved.

  • What are some patterns you have seen in this competition over the years? (For those who have judged before.)

Pattern has shown less submissions that are passion driven only.

  • What do you hope to see in the competition this year?

Hope to see well balanced iced teas.

  • Has the number of competitors grown or changed over the years?

Competitors continue to grow.

  • What is this competition’s impact on the tea industry?

Competition always helps the industry improve.

  • What do you hope competitors and those who follow the competition will take away from it?

Hopefully feedback to submissions will help and general public will see validity in premium teas.

  • What kinds of teas do you usually drink, and why?

I usually drink hot in a.m. Iced all day. Hot in evening. Of course then I taste teas for work. I drink all kinds of teas.

  • Do you grow your own tea?

I don’t grown my own.

  • What is the best time to drink tea?

Drink tea all day.

  • What is your favorite tea memory?

Favorite tea memory was first trip to origin.

  • What is in your cup today?

Ceylon black iced today.