Tea Pages

Living Life One Cup at a Time

My Picks from World Tea Expo

Written By: Katrina - May• 24•15

Now that I’ve fully emerged from the post-travel haze of World Tea Expo, I wanted to share some of the products and people that caught my eye out in Long Beach.

Tea-Ceré by Sharp

IMG_7410smThis was the one that I can’t stop thinking about. It’s the product I never knew I needed, but ever since getting home I’ve been measuring counter space.

Named to reference Japanese tea ceremony, Tea-Ceré was released under the name Healsio Ocha Presso in Japan a year ago. They were expecting to produce and sell 50,000 units in the first release. Instead, they sold 150,000. It’s described as an “espresso maker” for tea, but that just doesn’t do it justice in my opinion. Over and over I watched tea fans give a half-hearted shrug when they were told to visit the booth, but then they found themselves won over instantly.

This is no simple tea brewer. The front cylinder can be filled with a favorite tea – green, black, oolong. The cylinder is fitted with a ceramic grinder that acts like a mortar and pestle. The grinding is done slowly to ensure there is no heat degradation in the process. The tea emerges as a powder, the same consistency as matcha. The user then adds the powder into the brewer and it is whisked to a perfect foamy beverage. The entire process takes less than 3 minutes. Both grind quality and water temperature can be adjusted.

I loved the idea that you could use a good tencha and fresh grind matcha or you could put in a black or oolong and grind it to a texture that I could use in cooking. I also admired the way the whisking mechanism attempted to replicate traditional whisking.

The new machine will hit the market in July at a retail price of $299.99. It is available in red and green. (In Japan there is a gorgeous white and black version. I hope this one makes its way here too.)

Herb and Flower Crystals by Fresh Origins

I must confess that the appearance of this product is what got me to stop and take a harder look. It didn’t take long for me to be convinced that this was a product with real potential. HerbCrystalsFresh Origins grows its own edible flowers and fresh herbs and then combines them with cane sugar for a crunchy and sweet crystal with vibrant (natural) color and a powerful flavor. They promote them for use in desserts and to rim glasses on cocktails. While my mind ran through some interesting pastry and sweets options, I couldn’t help but think how magnificent some would be in iced teas. I don’t usually put sweeteners in my hot tea, but then again, I could see the mint or fennel showing up in a chai. The flavors available include mint, cilantro, fennel, rose, basil, hibiscus, basil, pumpkin and cranberry.

Mama-Kii of Mamaki of Hawaii

I am not by nature a great lover of herbals._Mama-Kii I can enjoy the occasional rooibos or chamomile, but my one true love will always be Camellia sinensis. Mama-Kii still stood out for me as something a little different. This herbal is from the plant Pipturus albidus, which is in the nettle family. I was curious about it as a friend had just been extolling the virtues of stinging nettle as a medicinal. While mamaki has grown and been used for wellness purposes on Hawaii for generations but Mamaki of Hawaii boasts the first certified mamaki plantation. The liquor is a soft berry color and the flavor was smooth. Now it’s time to dig through my samples and see if the flavor holds up for me or if the promise of mamaki was more appetizing.

Tea Soda from Brew Lab Tea

_BrewLabWell this was a surprise. I stopped by this table because I noticed Owl’s Brew on display. Owl’s Brew makes really interesting tea concentrates (in slick black bottles with chalkboard-style labels) that are primarily for use in cocktails. While I definitely enjoyed trying those (what’s not to love?), I found myself veering over to look at the blends they promoted as tea sodas. These blends were actually from their other company, Brew Lab Tea. Brew Lab has been developing custom blends for the past four years. I hadn’t yet experienced their teas, but found myself struggling to decide which to try first. They all sounded great. They steeped each tea and then carbonated them for a unique and yummy beverage. While the Lemon Ginger White was refreshing and the Hibiscus Bubbler sounded great, I was enamored with the Sasparilla Soda. Now I just have to figure out where to get it up here near Boston!

Arum Tea Organic

_ArumTeaThis is the first Indonesian tea I’ve had the chance to try. The company promotes the volcanic soil and tropical climate of Indonesia as the secret to its successful tea growing. If these examples are representative, then I think they’re right. (And the spectacular Arum offered a beautiful black tea and green tea, but what I actually loved most were the oolongs. They have both a dark and a light. I was very impressed with the complexity I found in these and I look forward to spending some more time steeping them at home. (My second try with Indonesian tea, an Indonesian White Tea Bud, from Chariteas was equally lovely with some of the most gorgeous buds I’ve seen in awhile. Interesting to see such diversity of styles.)

Bitaco Tea

_BitacoThis is another origin story, and one you will hear about again. You all know that I love to tell stories, especially the stories of tea people. I can guarantee that I’ll be spending more time finding out about the people behind Bitaco Tea. Have you ever had tea from Colombia? Neither had I. This company began producing loose leaf tea in 2013 in the Andes Mountains, in land with volcanic soil and basalt, and on a plantation that pays significant attention to sustainability. I got to try Cacao Kisses – a black tea with cacao nibs and cocoa husks. I think the addition of the cacao was a nice tribute to its South American heritage. It was a really decadent, rich tea and the blend was nicely balanced. I’m looking forward to trying some of the other blends that came home with me.



Nepal in our Hearts and Thoughts

Written By: Katrina - May• 14•15

Given the critical importance of origin in the tea industry it is right that we, as consumers and industry, maintain awareness of the news on the ground. Whether labor issues, political unrest or natural disasters, our tea, and the hard working people who produce it, is affected. It is for this reason that we should all be turning our focus to Nepal right now.

Eastern Nepal’s tea estates, lying in the foothills of the Himalayas, have produced brisk teas with notes of stone fruit that are reminiscent of those from Darjeeling. The very first of the tea plantations were established in the 1860s in Ilam when the prime minister in Nepal was gifted with Chinese tea saplings. The early black and green teas have been joined by the more unusual oolongs and white teas. There are CTCs and orthodox teas and while the teas are not produced in large quantities, they are available and appreciated globally.

Dharhara after Nepalquake 4


KATHMANDU NEPAL FEB 2013 (8581665041)


On April 25, the region was stunned by a 7.8 magnitude earthquake that rocked the region. Buildings collapsed and avalanches and landslides were triggered. Some of Nepal’s most treasured landmarks were devastated. 8,159 people have died, a number that is still rising. The after

shocks kept Nepali people on edge. And then…

On Tuesday, what was technically an aftershock, measured in at 7.3 in magnitude, centered 47 miles ENE of Kathmandu. The horror began again. The already compromised structures collapsed and 65 more people have died with thousands more injured. The quake was felt 500 miles away in New Delhi, India and also in Dharka, Bangladesh. More aftershocks are expected for “six months to a year or more,” USGS research geophysicist Dan McNamara told The Weather Channel. There are 75 administrative districts in Nepal and at least 30 have been impacted by the tremors and destruction, according to Radio Nepal. The Tribhuvan International Airport in Kathmandu where relief supplies have been landing had to be closed. The New York Times reported that a structural engineer from the U.S. had looked at buildings in a city near Kathmandu and believes that one-third of them would have to be taken down.

International support has been slow. The country has requested $423 million. Only 15% of that amount has been pledged according to U.N. regional coordinator Jamie McGoldrick.


Relief efforts will be critical to helping Nepal and its people survive this devastation and rebuild. If you would like to help, may I suggest these organizations:



CARE Nepalhttp://www.care.org/country/nepal – A humanitarian organization that has been fighting poverty since 1945, providing support and relief in times of crisis in 87 countries.

AmeriCareshttp://www.americares.org – Since 1982, AmeriCares has delivered medical aid, health programs and nutritional supplements around the world.

Save the Childrenhttp://www.savethechildren.org – In 120 countries, this organization supports the well-being of children.

Nepal Earthquake Fund, a tea-led initiativehttp://www.gofundme.com/t7rb62a – This Go Fund Me initiative was developed by Jason McDonald of Great Mississippi Tea Company who recently returned from travels to Nepal. He is working with the Lochan family of Lochan Teas to deliver funds that are being used by the Confederation of Indian Industry to buy and deliver mattresses, bedding, medicine and water to those in need.

One Word at a Time – Passion Rediscovered

Written By: Katrina - May• 08•15

(You may want to duck. There will be a fair bit of name dropping here.)

I have never been one to take life for granted. I sometimes think it was growing up in a small mill town in central Maine, surrounded by hardworking people who rarely sought attention or thanks for the hundreds of kind gestures that made up a given day. Maybe it was living with parents who had chosen education as their life’s work. My dad was the son of a minister and the most devout of minister’s wives and my mother was the daughter of people who spent countless hours serving others at their diner and later at their bowling alley. We didn’t take big vacations or have the latest clothes and toys, but we also had all that we needed to be healthy and happy. I have been fortunate and I have been grateful.

I sometimes bristle when I’m told not to take my kids or my husband or my life for granted, because I don’t. I am thankful for them every day and I cherish my time with them. I don’t need to be reminded….Or do I?

I have spent the last three days in Long Beach, California at the 2015 World Tea Expo. This trade show and educational forum draws tea experts, educators, enthusiasts and businesses owners from all over the world. It’s been a couple years since I could attend, but my family and I made some hard decisions and adjusted schedules and, with some critical help from my parents, I boarded a plane on Wednesday.

It’s funny that even after 8 years in the tea industry I still get very nervous arriving at these types of events. I feel unsure of my place, wonder if anyone will remember me, and stand in awe of the tea leaders who I’ve come to admire and strive to emulate. And then I remember…


With Darlene Meyers-Perry

I remember that the tea community is among the warmest, most generous and kind collection of people I have ever had the good fortune to be part of. I crossed to the Convention Center from my hotel and before I even reached the door I saw Darlene Meyers-Perry (The Tea Lover’s Archives.) Her smile and hug were the perfect welcome. Within minutes I saw Jo (A Gift of Tea / Scandalous Tea) and collected my second huge smile and welcome. And it didn’t stop.

With Bruce and Shelley Richarson, with Jane Pettigrew in background

With Bruce and Shelley Richarson, with Jane Pettigrew in background

For three days I was greeted with kindness that overwhelmed me. The tea blogging community reminded me that I will always be part of their “people.” Even as my blog has lain fallow, they have been the biggest cheerleaders for my writing and editing career. When Tea Pages launched in 2007, I never could have predicted that it would create some of my most valued friendships in this industry. There were friends I’ve been lucky enough to visit with before, like Rachel Carter (I Heart Teas), Naomi Rosen (Joy’s Teaspoon), Nicole Schwartz (@amazonv), Chris Giddings (Teaity) and Nicole Martin (Tea for Me Please). There were others, like Geoff Norman (Steep Stories), Tony Gebely (World of Tea), and Jen Piccotti (International Tea Moment) with whom I’ve never been in the same room with but have shared countless moments with online over the years and I feel I know better than people I see daily.

With Lisa Boalt Richardson

With Lisa Boalt Richardson

And then there are the mentors. I was teary as people who I bow down to for their accomplishments and achievements in tea, our industry’s celebrities like James Norwood Pratt, Jane Pettigrew, Kevin Gascoyne, Lisa Bolt Richardson, Beth Johnston,  and Bruce Richardson, greeted me by name, with hugs and tea (and occasionally a cocktail – thanks Kevin.) I shed a few tears as it really sunk in that there would be no hug and laughs with John Harney, another industry hero who showed me tremendous respect and warmth and welcome and who left us far too soon. I spent time with my colleague and friend, Dan Bolton, with whom I edited Tea Magazine for a year and a half and with whom I now get to produce World Tea News with every week. We’ve now collaborated for five years and have only been in the same room together about that same number of times.


With Norwood Pratt

I thanked my stars for the chance to congratulate Norwood in person for his receipt of the John Harney Lifetime Achievement Award and blushed at the kind words he offered in return. He is a gentleman and I am so proud to call him my friend.

We shared tea, laughter, and I absorbed more knowledge in the past three days than I will be able to process in three weeks. And I rediscovered my passion for this blog. I realized that THIS is what I’ve taken for granted. Blogging about tea is what gave me my start in tea and it has opened doors and friendships. It has earned me press credentials and given me introductions to people I never would have met otherwise.

I don’t know where this blog is going next, but it is going somewhere. It is time to come back to my tea roots, to reconnect with my community more regularly, to remind myself of how fortunate I am to have tea people in my life.

So welcome to all of you, dear readers. Those of you who have stuck by me for eight years, whether I posted or not. Those of you who bought my book and read my magazine articles. Those of you who are bloggers and writers who show support for all in your community. Those shop owners and tea merchants who have shared their tea with me and taught me so much and inspire me to continue to learn every day. To all of you, I say thank you. I look forward to getting to know you all again.

Some of my very favorite tea bloggers

Some of my very favorite tea bloggers





Saying Goodbye to John Harney

Written By: Katrina - Jun• 19•14

Harney2Within any industry there are the superstars, those people who you admire, endeavor to learn from and who you dream you will one day meet. When I began my tea blog seven years ago I had already developed a short list of people who fell into that category for me. Some were authors whose books I had devoured. Others were tea educators and tea company owners. Not only have I been fortunate enough to meet some of those amazing people like Jane Pettigrew, Bruce Richardson, Norwood Pratt and Cynthia Gold, but some have also become friends. Now one of those very special tea mentors, John Harney, has left us and today I say goodbye.

I will not tell the story of John Harney and his early years with Harney & Sons. Many have done that today and I will save that for another day. Instead I will tell the story of what he did for someone new to the industry with a passion for tea.

The first time I met John Harney was in September of 2011. My book had just been released and I was attending World Tea East in Philadelphia in the hopes of promoting the book and meeting some of the people who were only email addresses to me so far. I was walking up one of the aisles, admiring Rishi’s striking display of bowls of loose tea and watching the Teas Etc. folk pouring cup after cup of samples. I came to the Harney & Sons booth and took a quick look to see if Michael Harney was there, someone I’d met a few times previously and had recently spoken to about stocking my book at their Millerton shop. To my delight (and, I must admit, utter panic), there sat John Harney on a stool greeting passersby. The first time I walked quickly by, nervous to approach, wondering what I could possibly say. He made it easy. He was being honored that evening at a reception and started yelling out to people that they should be sure to come to the event because he was afraid no one would be there to clap. I took a deep breath and said hello. We ended up spending 15 minutes talking, discussing our kids and his business and my book. On the spot he tripled the number of books the shop was going to order and told my publisher to reach out so they could stock them at Millerton, in SoHo and on their website.

I am honored to say that that was the first of many conversations. It was also the first time he teased me about how much of a mouthful he found my name to be. Any time he called my house he never left a message for “Katrina.” He always used all three of my names and then laughed and laughed.

He was always ready to jump on the phone to be a source for an article. He talked frankly with me about the whims of the industry and the challenges of the business. When I began doing some research for a book project I asked if he’d spend some time talking with me about the history of Harney & Sons. He spent more than an hour talking with me, sharing those early moments, and answering questions. We, as usual, completely lost track of time and I realized that we would have to continue the conversation later. I said, “I’ve just realized how much of your time we’ve taken. It’s been an hour!” He answered, “But I’ve only gotten up to 1980!”

He was always kind and warm, generously sharing his knowledge and his passion for tea. He has had a tremendous impact on the acceptance of and awareness of tea in this country. He has taken risks and been successful in no small part due to his ability to form respectful relationships and to make tea feel accessible and inviting.

The tea industry suffered an enormous loss on June 16 with John Harney’s passing. His legacy will continue through Harney & Sons and all of us who had the great pleasure of meeting him. My deepest sympathies are with his wife, his children and his grandchildren.

John – Thank you for welcoming me into the industry, for being accessible and for the many, many laughs you provided. I must confess that I still have a phone message on my voicemail that you left months ago simply because your voice made me smile. I am grateful for the memories.

Soccer Fans – It’s Time to Play World Cup 2014: Tea Style

Written By: Katrina - Jun• 12•14

I try not to cross-post very often because I don’t want readers to feel like they are just reading reprints from other blogs. Today I had to bend the rules.

My husband is a HUGE soccer fan. He played for a long time and he coaches our kids’ teams. On many nights you’d find our television tuned to Telemundo to watch whatever game is on the air that night. He streams games online and basically is as excited about soccer as I am about tea.

I have definitely gained a big appreciation for the sport and have been looking forward to the start of the World Cup today.

Everyone in our family has been filling out our World Cup bracket picks but I must confess, except for a few of the more obvious favorites, I hadn’t followed the stats enough to make very well informed choices. Anyone who has seen me fill out a basketball bracket knows how I work — cities I like, mascots that amuse me, complete guesses. I love watching sports; I just don’t tend to retain the details that come in very useful in making picks.

I decided to offer a public service by creating a World Cup 2014 Tea Style bracket for Tea Biz. For each country in the tournament you’ll find a tea type/tea cuisine that might help you make your choice. Let me know what you think!

Click here to read the post and print out the bracket.