World Tea Expo 2015 Recap

State of the Tea Union (Image)by Naomi Rosen

World Tea Expo 2015, held in Long Beach, CA, was a wrap on May 8, 2015, and what a show it was. Over 100 exhibitors, tasting sessions, unveiling of the World Tea Awards, educational offerings every morning, and a meetup of the US League of Tea Growers! Sorry it has taken me so long to get the recap out…but here it is my friends!

We kicked off the meetup with a slideshow of trends, happenings, and updates from current US tea growers. If you have Powerpoint, you can catch a peek at the slideshow below:

State of the Tea Union 2015

Once the State of the Union was completed, Eva Lee gave us the big announcement about the TOTUS Awards, we had had a chance to hear from Mark Adams about becoming a member of the League, and Nigel Melican updated us about the USLTG elections (held in June).

We had so much information to share, we actually ran out of time for our Q & A! So, we’d like to host it on here? What questions do you have for the USLTG?

What is TOTUS?

TOTUS logoby Naomi Rosen

Raise your hand if you are still running on the high of World Tea Expo? (***Raises hand!) The offerings this year did not disappoint:

  • The USLTG hosted a well attended meetup.
  • Nigel Melican led an informative and thought provoking class on how to Sucessfully Grow Tea in the US (more details to come).
  • Selena Ahmed led an incredible class on Sustainability and Climate Mitigation in Tea Growing (more details to come).
  • Jason McDonald led a successful Tea Planting Workshop at the Tealet House right after Expo.

It’d be hard to imagine something that could top the line-up above, but I left Expo buzzing about this news: The TOTUS Awards are going to crown a US grown tea! 

What is TOTUS

TOTUS stands for “Tea of the United States”. Per their website, “Now that there is an increase in domestic tea production aligned with an American origin initiative, we hope that the TOTUS Awards 2015 will encourage those who have pioneered US tea farming to gain national recognition for their uniquely crafted teas and further educate consumers supporting domestic tea agriculture.”

So how is this going to work? 

It’s pretty simple. The competition is open to all US growers, small or large, Commercial or Non-Commercial. You simply have to be able to provide a tea sample weighing 36 grams. Commerical growers will submit their samples ($100 entry fee per sample) into 4 different categories: White, Green, Oolong, and Black. Non-commercial growers are able to enter the same categories ($40 entry fee per sample), but will compete against other non-commercial growers.

  • Commercial Grower – Tea Growers that produce and sell a minimum of 5 pounds of 100% US grown Camellia sinensis tea per year.
  • Non-Commerical Grower – Beginning Farmers, Researchers, and/or Hobbyists that produce and sell less than 5 pounds of 100% US grown Camellia sinensis tea per year.

Growers will need to submit an entry form by October 16, 2015, and all samples will have to be in hand by October 26, 2015. For more details about the submission of teas, please visit the TOTUS Rules & Info page

Judging and Awards

The judging process will be held November 4, 2015 and is closed to the public. There are 5 esteemed jurors on the panel including Jane Pettigrew, Kevin Gascoyne, and Selena Ahmed. TOTUS Award winners will be announced online on November 7, 2015, and a celebratory event is tentatively being scheduled in Hawaii for that day as well.

Commercial growers will be competing for a cash prize in each category (White, Green, Oolong, and Black) as well as a public announcement on Totus1Awards.com.

  • 1st Place $1,000
  • 2nd Place $500
  • 3rd Place $250 

Non-commecial growers will be competing for certificate awards in each category (White, Green, Oolong, and Black) as well as a public announcement on Totus1Awards.com.

  • 1st Place certificates 
  • 2nd Place certificates 
  • 3rd Place certificates 

Did I mention that the US League of Tea Growers is a proud Camellia Sinensis Level Sponsor and we encourage our friends to look into supporting this event as well?

So, let’s hear it! How exciting is this? In just a few months, we’ll have US tea growers going head to head and standards for US grown tea will start to take form. These are exciting times my friends, exciting times indeed.

NEW: Grower Spotlight

Tea House Timesby Naomi Rosen

We’d like to send a gigantic thank you to Gail and the team at The Tea House Times! They have graciously offered the USLTG a regular monthly column on their blog, and we’ve decided that that space would be best served spotlighting our US tea growers!

There are a few ways you can help us out!

  1. Visit the Tea House Times blog and check out the very first grower spotlight: Tsubaki Camellias, Inc.
  2. Let us know what you’d like to hear about from US tea growers! What questions should we ask? What information is helpful to other growers? You can do so in the comments section below, or email our Media team directly at naomi@joysteaspoon.com.
  3. Last, but certainly not least, let us know if you and your tea growing venture would like to be featured. You must grow tea in the US, and you must be a member of the USLTG in good standing. Again, you can email our media team at naomi@joysteaspoon.com!

Again, thank you so much to The Tea House Times for supporting US tea growing efforts and thank you to our growers that are willing to share a bit about their gardens.

We Need Your Letters of Support!

LetterA letter to our growers, retailers, supporters, and enthusiasts:

Dear USLTG,

We are in the process of writing a federal grant that if funded will provide 5 years of research at three different institutions. The title is: A systems approach to improve production, germplasm, and economic return for growing tea, an emerging specialty crop industry in the U.S. This is a great opportunity to get research goals, that we determined at the Round-up, funded. If funded, it would include 3 institutions with around 14 researchers! For this grant the funding agency has requested letters of support from industry stake holders. It would be great if each of you could write a letter stating that you support tea research and a little information on the industry.

Here are some key points that we would like to have in the letters:
-Impact tea has nationally and regionally
-Your role in the tea industry
-Potential market that tea is/could be in the US
-Need for research
-Specifically production, cultivar development, economic analysis,        environmental benefit
-How research, that would develop the industry, could benefit you as producers/retailer
-Social benefits of tea for producers and consumers
-Involvement of USLTG and researchers in identifying and developing research goals
The title: A systems approach to improve production, germplasm, and economic return for growing tea, an emerging
specialty crop industry in the U.S. Letters must state the title.

The goal is to show that the industry is viable and should be researched. We would really like to have letters from vendors as well as growers to show that there is an industry.

Letters should be addressed to: Dr. Guihong Bi. Letters can be emailed to me and we will compile them to be submitted with the pre-application. I know it is short notice but please email them to me by Monday March 23 at 5pm central time.

Thank you for your continued support,
Judson

Judson S. LeCompte
Research Associate
Mississippi State University
Department of Plant and Soil Sciences
(662) 325-2862
JSL279@msstate.edu

Adopt-A-Tea-Plant Program Launched

GMTCo Adopt a Plantby Naomi Rosen

Congratulations to the crew down at The Great Mississippi Tea Company on the launch of their “Adopt-A-Tea-Plant” initiative that kicked off today!

For program details or to get your questions answered, you can visit their webpage!

As a grower, have you ever considered a program like this to subsidize farm funding?