The North American Tea Championship (NATC), held Feb. 27 – 28 in Las Vegas, Nev., evaluated premium hot teas from the fall 2012 harvest and announced the 22 best, high-quality teas in various categories, as well as the first-ever Judge’s Choice Award. The Championship is the only independent and professionally-judged tea competition in North America., and all of the winners are commercially available in the marketplace. Visit www.teachampionship.com.
Companies that took home a prestigious first-place title include: Ajiri Tea Company; Immaculate Leaf; Florapharm; Golden Moon Tea; International Tea Importers; Mountain Tea; Naivetea; Newby Teas Ltd.; QTrade Teas & Herbs; Rare Tea Cellar, Inc.; Silk Road Teas; Sungarden Tea; Teas Etc.; TeaSource; Walters Bay; and Yogic Chai.
“We continue to see creative and innovative offerings in the flavored and blended categories,” said NATC Cupping Coordinator Mo Sardella of The G.S. Haly Company. “As North American tea consumers respond favorably to this segment of the industry, the North American Tea Championship will no doubt become the best place for new and interesting blends to be tasted by industry experts, and valued based on cup quality and creativity.”
According to Sardella, “Beyond the top two or three performing teas in each category, there appears to be some room for industry improvement with regard to sourcing higher quality teas that accurately represent the classic standards. However, given the variable quality available from ‘source’ during last year’s production, mainly due to abnormal weather conditions, it is understandable why some of the teas in the competition did not exceed the judges’ expectations for these classic types.”
Sardella adds, “As the NATC continues to evolve, it will be very interesting to see how tea quality improves in the industry, and which companies find the most success utilizing the NATC as a vehicle for demonstrating and celebrating their quality-focused sourcing and blending point of view for consumers.”
First-ever Judge’s Choice Award – In addition to the 22 award-winning teas, the North American Tea Championship unexpectedly awarded the first-ever Judge’s Choice Award to Mountain Tea Company of Cerritos, Calif., for its Imperial Pearl Oolong Tea. “Mountain Tea Company entered the NATC with a dark oolong that did not quite fit our specifications for that category,” said Kim Jage, director of marketing and sales for the North American Tea Championship. “However, it was an exceptionally high-quality beautiful tea, worthy of distinction, so the impressed judges decided to create a new award.”
North American Tea Championship winners include:
(Company, Category, Name of the Winning Tea)
- Immaculate Leaf, Aged/Baked Oolong; Aged Oolong
- Newby Teas Ltd, Assam; Rare Assam
- Naivetea, Bai Hao/ Oriental Beauty; Formosa Oolong
- Walters Bay, Breakfast Blend; Maliboda BOP1
- Ajiri Tea Company, Blended Black Tea with Other Botanicals; Kenyan Black Tea with Lemon
- Newby Teas Ltd, Blended Oolong; Hi Chung
- TeaSource, Black Tea; Golden Dragon
- Yogic Chai, Chai; Original Masala Chai
- Walters Bay, Black Tea-CTC; Nildalukanda PF1
- Florapharm, Darjeeling; Organic Darjeeling SFTGFOP1 “Sungma” autumnal flush
- Silk Road Teas, Dark Oolong; Plum Blossom Fragrance
- QTrade Teas & Herbs, Earl Grey; Earl Grey Supreme
- International Tea Importers, Flavored Black Tea; Tropical Birthday Black
- Golden Moon Tea, Flavored Oolong; Coconut Pouchong
- Sugarden Tea, Flavored Rooibos; Organic Lemon Rose Rooibos
- QTrade Teas & Herbs, Green Jasmine Open Leaf; Lady Jasmine
- QTrade Teas & Herbs, Green Jasmine Pearl; Jasmine Pearls
- Mountain Tea Company, Green Oolong; DaYuLing
- QTrade Teas & Herbs, Jade Ti Kuan Yin; Emerald Spring
- Rare Tea Cellar, Keemun; Oal Barel Aged Keemun
- Mountain Tea Company,Traditional Ti Kuan Yin; Medium Roast TieGuanYin
- Teas Etc., Yunnan; Golden Monkey
- Mountain Tea Company, First-ever Judge’s Choice Award; Imperial Pearl Oolong Tea
At the North American Tea Championship, tea submissions were evaluated blind and through organoleptic analysis of the following characteristics: dry leaf, brewed color, brewed aroma, brewed flavor, brewed mouth-feel and brewed harmony. An overall numerical value on a 100-point scale was then calculated based on the ratings of each characteristic above. Winners were determined by rank.
A complete list of first-, second- and third-place winners of the North American Tea Championship is available at www.teachampionship.com. Honorees will be featured at the North American Tea Championship Winners Tasting Circle at World Tea Expo, June 7 – 9, 2013 at the Las Vegas Convention Center, Las Vegas, Nev.
The next North American Tea Championship will be held in May 2013 for an evaluation of iced teas. Entries will be accepted in April. To inquire about entering the competition, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.