Monday, March 11, 2013

CRFA Show 2013: The Search for Tea (Part 1)

Déjà vu

If you're thinking this looks familiar, you were probably with me on my adventure last year at the CRFA Show when I accidentally upset a certain famous wine person (I took tea into a wine tasting...bad idea! Tip: don't do this!).

The annual Canadian Restaurant and Food Show is a great chance for me to shake off the cobwebs from working long and busy hours of RRSP season.  A chance to venture out  and taste some wine, yummy food and of course teas, that our city has to offer.  

Let's see what we can find this year, any old faces, or new discoveries...?

Construction cranes, a familiar sight in our city
Here's something familiar, UrbanZen Tea!  I met John Palacios of UrbanZen Tea last year (you can read about it here).  Their natural, hand picked, whole leaf brewed iced teas are truly refreshing. They harvest the teas from their plantation in Taiwan twice a year.  Because they don't use anything artificial in their teas, it can take them up to two years to develop and perfect a new flavour.  They used the show to launch their latest flavour, Calamansi Lime (a cross between lime, kumquat and clementine) with aloe bits.  It had a  citrusy lime with a light tea taste, quite enjoyable.  Their Honey Jasmine is a nice one to try too.  UrbanZen can be found at local grocers or cafes, give it a try! 
John on the left with staff member showing off a top seller (Mango) and their newest flavour, the Calamansi Lime
Some of the yummy treats found...
Sweet, chewy macarons

Delicious olives
Tetley's here too!  One of the top selling tea brands in the world. Yes, there are LOTS of folks that like the convenience of a teabag.  This holds true especially in food services industry.  At least people are drinking tea!

Not all teabags are bad.  Shocker!  Gasp!  It's really what's in them that counts.  Is it full of tiny pieces of tea leaves? Or just the dust and fannings? Or whole leaves?  Some examples of good quality tea in a bag are Rishi Tea, Numi Tea, Mighty Leaf's to name a few.  

As people learn more about tea, companies like Tetley must up their game in order not to be left behind.  The fellas I spoke to at their booth told me that after years of prodding by the Tea Association of Canada, they may finally send one of their staff to take the tea sommelier courses! 

If you work in food services, drop me a line!  I can hook you up...

A classic in a new package
You can click here to see how the drawstring works.  It's cute!  No more drips, no need to use fingers or the back of a spoon to squeeze out the bag before tossing it out. 

It tasted a lot better than the usual Tetley teabag, so they must have up'd the quality of the leaves used in these drawstring bags. But, it is still a far cry from a high quality loose leaf tea.  So, they told me I should go check out 'Tea Pigs", a high end line that Tetley's handlers just launched in Canada.  So onward I go...

Gotta have cake! 
Dufflet has delicious cakes, pies and baked goods.  
 Latest addition to the Dufflet line, a "Two-person' cake.
The little chocolate cake with a purple flower on top serves two people perfectly.  
More tea! AIYA Matcha (according to their website, they are the #1 manufacturer in the world 
for over 120 years, wow!)

Bumped into fellow Certified Tea Sommelier, Ingrid Folkers, at the AIYA Matcha tea booth.  Ingrid walked the Camino de Santiago last fall! Pretty awesome!

Ingrid wasn't too keen on this, but I kinda liked it.  It was fun and tasty.
A neat way to introduce novice tea drinkers to  matcha.
 Plain Matcha - I was told they actually diluted quite a bit to cater to the taste of the attendees.  I would have liked to try it stronger to get a truer taste of their matcha.

Here's an interesting video on the history of AIYA and Matcha:

Beer and more treats as I continued on...

Hmm, I know there's more tea to be found... stay tuned for Part 2 where we'll encounter Sloane Tea, Tea Pigs,and  the Tea Association of Canada at the Tea Pavilion.

No comments:

Post a Comment