Just in time for summer and National Iced Tea Month in June, the North American Tea Championship selected 19 first-place winners in numerous categories during its annual Iced Tea Class evaluation.
The North American Tea Championship is the only independent competition, judged by professional cuppers, to distinguish the highest quality and best tasting teas that are commercially available in the North American marketplace. Some of the winners will be featured at the upcoming World Tea Expo --the most prominent annual event for the tea industry -- held June 7 - 9 at the Las Vegas Convention Center in Las Vegas.
"The overall cup quality standard for iced beverages is higher than it was just a few years ago,” said North American Tea Championship Judge Eliot Jordan, director of tea at Peet's Coffee & Tea. “Plus, innovation has strengthened. Let's hope these are trends that continue."
NATC Judge Anthony Tellin, a former tea buyer/formulator for Starbucks' Tazo and the current tea buyer and director of operations at Smith Teamaker, said, "From a consumer's perspective, it is a great time to be a lover of iced tea. With more options and higher quality across all iced tea channels, this summer is sure to be refreshing and delicious. In fact, it made judging and choosing the best in category that much more difficult, but what a wonderful challenge to have."
A complete list of first, second and third-place winners, as well as details on the Championship, is available online. The next North American Tea Championship, for spring 2013 harvest teas, takes place in July.
Iced tea first-place winners are as follows:
S&D Coffee and Tea (www.sndcoffee.com), Teafinity Sweet, Foodservice Bag-in-Box Sweetened Black
S&D Coffee and Tea (www.sndcoffee.com), Teafinity Unsweet, Foodservice Bag-in-Box Unflavored/Unsweetened Black
Art of Tea (www.artoftea.com), Summer Peach, Foodservice Flavored Black
Shangri La Tea Co. (www.shangrilaicedtea.com), Shangri La Natural, Foodservice Unflavored/Unsweetened Black
QTrade Teas & Herbs (www.qtradeteas.com), Summer Solstice, Foodservice Flavored Green
QTrade Teas & Herbs (www.qtradeteas.com), Emerald Green, Foodservice Unflavored/Unsweetened Green
The North American Tea Championship Iced Tea Class is evaluated once a year, and every submission is evaluated blind and through organoleptic analysis of characteristics, including flavor, body, color, clarity and balance. An overall numerical value on a 100-point scale is then calculated based on the ratings of each characteristic, and winning teas are determined by rank.
As a first-time NATC judge, Tellin said he was impressed with both the products and the competition itself. "NATC is well thought-out and executed, providing categories to support different product types, formats and delivery systems; so each product is fairly judged against similar products in the marketplace," he said. "The results allow producers to understand how their products are compared to others through impartial judging by industry professionals, something that aids tremendously in marketing, operations and product development."