Every year, the World Tea Expo bestows New Product Awards to producers of innovation. Categories include gifts, tea-infused food, sustainable packaging and more. This year, World Tea Expo awarded products of exceptional caliber that will add value to the tea industry for years to come.
Three judges evaluated 37 product entries. The judges are Brian Keating, founder of Sage Group, Seattle-based tea business advisers, trend analysts and product developers; Rob McCaleb, president of Natural Healthcare Inc., a natural products consultancy based in Boulder, Colorado; and Sara Martinelli, co-founder Boulder Tea Co., co-owner Dushanbe Teahouse in Boulder, Colorado, and founder of The Rocky Mountain Tea Festival.
A great deal of thought, ingenuity and meticulousness went into each product. Here are a few examples of this year’s innovation and the producers’ responses to their awards.
JusTea’s African Purple Rain Tea won in the Innovative Packaging category for its exceptionally attractive package judges described as “quite alluring” and made from reusuable and sustainable components. Paul Bain, tea captain at Vancouver, British Columbia-based JusTea, said, “We have been working hard for the past six years with our Kenyan partners to develop our unique ‘teas with a story’ and it is great to be recognized for our efforts.” He went on to say, “Our packaging is inspired by the vibrant Kenyan culture and passion of the tea farming families. We try to highlight this through the colorful African patterns, farmer picture profiles and the beautiful hand-carved Kenyan olive-wood tea spoon (which takes two to three hours to carve). The window in the lid is the final touch to allow customers to see the premium whole leaf teas inside the tin.”
In the Tea Infused Food category, Eat More Tea won for its spice and tea blends judges described as “tasty, functional seasonings.” Lisa McDonald, owner of Ann Arbor, Michigan-based TeaHaus and spice blender, said, “We have been cooking with tea for over 10 years at our tea store cafe/restaurant and are excited to introduce others to cooking and baking with tea at home or in their restaurants. Our spice blends make it easy and fun.”
Helsinki, Finland-based company Ahlstrom-Munksjö won in the Sustainable Packaging category for its environmentally friendly tea bags the judges described as “state-of-the-art material.” Stuart Nixon, vice president of the beverage and casing business for Ahlstrom-Munksjö said, “Current filter solutions for heat sealable tea bags are mainly based on non-compostable materials made of cellulose and fossil based plastic. Ahlstrom-Munksjö is one of the first players to provide a compostable filter capable to seal and be converted effectively. I’m delighted to receive this recognition from the industry as we believe sustainable materials are our future.”
ITO EN’s gift set won in the Tea Gifting/Special Promotions category by combining practicality and creativity with The Tea Spot’s Urban Tea Tumbler and ITO EN’s Brooklyn Breakfast Blend. Rona Tison, executive vice president of corporate relations and public relations said, “With tea being the quintessential gift for any occasion, we are pretty excited to be recognized for our Brooklyn innovation, which was hand blended and packed out of our home base in Brooklyn.”
T-Sac/Aqua Select USA Ltd. won in the Tea Accessories category for its Aqua Select Plus home water filter with ion exchange and activated charcoal “for pure, great tasting water,” said the judges. Aqua Select is “very proud to produce quality accessory to help consumers enjoy the best cup of tea.”
The awards evoked surprise and gratitude in winners.
Zoila Callejas of FORLIFE Design, which won in the Tea Brewing (Electric & Manual) category for its Iced Tea Brewer Jug, said, “We are very happy to have received an award from the World Tea Expo, a little shocked as we were not expecting it.”
The Publications and Books category yielded “Simply the overall best tea book we have ever encountered; well thought-out, in-depth information, easy-to-read … outstanding,” said the judges regarding Jane Pettigrew’s World of Tea. Pettigrew said, “I was completely taken by surprise … Thank you to those who decided to honor me with this award and thank you to all the organizers for the work that went into a really successful show this year.”
Here is the complete list of winners:
Novel tea product packaging judged on cleverness or uniqueness, representing new design improvements and / or use of novel materials.
Winner: JusTea, African Purple Rain Tea
Products created to sweeten, or otherwise enhance enjoyment of tea; honey, special sugars, citrus, milks, flavorings for home use.
Winner: Bee Seasonal LLC, Artisan honeys from Brazil
Environmentally conscious packaging; compostable, recycled/recyclable, biodegradable, non-petroleum inks, etc.
Winner: Ahlstrom-Munksjö, environmentally friendly tea bags
Tea Infused Food
Any type of food enhanced with addition of tea; baked goods, confections, novel consumables.
Winner: Eat More Tea, spices combined with tea
Publications & Books
Tea-centric books, magazines, newsletters, manuals, tea-related teaching and training materials.
Winner: Jane Pettigrew’s World of Tea
Tea Brewing (Electric & Manual)
Device that brews and dispenses tea, including English or Asian-style teapots, gaiwans, polycarbonate brewers, press-pots, cold brewers, etc.
Winner: FORLIFE, Iced Tea Brewer Jug
Tea Gifting, Special Promotions
Tea products packaged and promoted for use as gifts and special promotions: tea gift sets, holiday themes, special events.
Winner: ITO EN, combination of The Tea Spot’s Urban Tea Tumbler and ITO EN’s Brooklyn Breakfast Tea/Coffee Blend
Includes strainers, tea balls, tea socks, bags, infusers, tea tools, gong fu accessories, tea bag squeezers, tongs, timers, tea bag rests, canisters. This category is exclusively for items that assist in the brewing or serving of tea, but you do not drink from them.
Winner: T-Sac/Aqua Select USA Ltd., home water filter