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May 2013 Posts


A Day in My Shoes
Blog Entry

Episode 8, Part 2 - A Day in My Shoes - Tea Assoc of USA

Monday, May 13th 2013 @ 12:00 AM

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A Day in My Shoes – Episode 8, Part 2A
Tea Association of the USA

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Next week: An Outtake "From the Desk of"...Peter Goggi

Welcome to A Day in My Shoes – a blog and sometimes vlog as The Tea House Times publisher, Gail Gastelu, puts herself in another person’s shoes for the day – going behind the scenes in the tea industry!  If you are just joining us, go to the Archived entries in the left column to catch up - beginning with January 2013.  OR

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EPISODE 8, PART 2A - MARCH 19, 2013

Peter Goggi, current Executive Vice President of the Tea Association of the USA will be taking over when Joe Simrany, President, departs in January, 2014. Peter is already well versed in the goings on of the Association, Council and STI.  I am certain it will be a smooth transition.

Peter joined the Tea Association of the USA following a 32 year career with Unilever.  Peter was the first American born tea taster in the history of Lipton/Unilever and the President of Royal Estates Tea Co., division of Lipton, and served 30 of his 32 years with Unilever directly associated with the Lipton Tea business.  He retired as Commodities Procurement Director – Americas.  Since joining the Tea Association, he has taught the Specialty Tea Institute’s Levels One and Two Foundation Courses as well as accompanying STI members on their 2012 trip to the tea growing areas of Nepal.  This year they will travel to China in May, 2013.  The China Chamber of Commerce for Tea & other foods and animal by-products is conducting an International Tea Convention, Exhibition, and tour of the Yunnan province including Pu'er and other locations that I cannot pronounce!  The trip allows people to see tea growing areas while traveling along with others who share this common interest. Buyers/sellers/retailers get a chance to see where tea is coming from and can ask questions about the supply chain.

Some of Peter’s routines include answering a large volume of questions via emails and phone calls all to promote and protect the tea industry.  He oversees the many projects going on at the Association, has prepared a strategic plan and mission statement, and works to ensure the accuracy of guides, resources, etc.  The Assoc. also has a PR agency that steps in with major media outlets and/or television programs when tea might have been misrepresented or facts need clarifying.

Peter has just completed a new Strategic Plan for the Tea Association which is being implemented through 2013.

Peter told me that some of the issues they deal with include things like
     School Nutrition Standards – only milk and water? Why not iced tea?

The Tea Association of the USA works with other associations such as Grocery Mfr Assoc., Herbal Assoc., Coffee Assoc. to submit position letters to government when there is an issue. They go in together for greater support and a stronger position.

Other topics of concern that the Association commonly responds to includes things like negative press about a tea company, the question of gluten – and that it does not exist in tea, caffeine and decaf levels, food litigation, issues that may come up about metals or ecoli, etc. 

January and September are Sweeps weeks, certain times of the year that are very busy as media sensationalize a lot of things needlessly and then the Tea Association needs to respond.

Peter will be presenting a talk about Tea and Health at World Tea Expo in June, 2013, to share elements of the tea and health message, and how to build business while avoiding pitfalls that could get you, your business, and the industry into trouble. Current research on tea and health will be presented along with the do’s and don’ts of communicating the health benefits of tea.  If you plan to attend, look for the Tea Association of the USA/Specialty Tea Institute booth on the show floor as well.

Peter said, “TEA HAS IT ALL OVER WATER!”  Hydration, antioxidants, and healthy aspects. In the long term, the aspects of tea and the tea industry are excellent!

On the day I visited the Tea Assoc of USA offices in New York City, it was time for their weekly staff meeting.  Peter led the meeting and checked in with each “Department” head.  They discussed projects and status for a number of things.  You would be impressed and surprised at the amount of work going on behind the scenes to successfully pull off each and every educational session for STI, the goings on of the Tea Council, information management and control of press relations for the tea industry in general.  I was honored that they felt comfortable enough to have me in their presence not only for a few hours of playful information mining, but to be included in their meeting as well.

If you have not yet had the pleasure of meeting everyone on staff at the Tea Assoc of USA, please allow me to introduce everyone.

Ellainy Karaboitis Christopoulos is Specialty Tea Institute Operations Manager, in charge of STI, Specialty Tea Institute education and STI membership.  The Specialty Tea Institute is in place for the promotion and education of specialty tea.  Members are small retailers and businesses selling tea.  Ellainy facilitates all education programs, works with students and graduates and continues to add new levels to the educational program to provide stronger skills to graduates and future tea educators. STI courses are usually held in conjunction with various trade shows across the country.  For example, STI classes will be held following World Tea Expo in June.  You may look for current program scheduling at 

Priscilla Obeada, Communications & Program Coordinator, in specifically in charge of anything related to the Tea Association of the USA such as Tea Assoc membership (not STI membership). She handles the website, emails, media relations and communications.  She also organizes the North American Tea Conference.  Every other conference is organized by the Tea Association of the USA or the Tea Association of Canada.  The 2013 event is being coordinated by the Tea Association of the USA and will take place in Bermuda with a fabulous Black Tie Affair to honor the retirement of Joe Simrany. 

I asked Priscilla --- Who normally attends the conference?  She said it is attended by Tea Assoc. members -primarily- heads of large tea companies, and members of STI as well.  A full day of speakers will cover topics such as the economy, results of their Symposium on Tea and Human Health, Review claims, statistics, and food service topics.   Many international people attend a Producers Breakfast and receive updates from producer countries.  The conference is 3 days beginning with a Welcome Reception, Board of Directors meetings for the US or Canada Tea Associations, a Gold Medal Tea Competition and judging, and more.  Pricing and scheduling details may be found at

Aleksandr Vasilyev, Office Administrator, is in charge of anything related to the need of US Agent assignment and assistance with FDA regulations.   He is also the bio-terrorism administrator.  He seems to also be the overall problem solver in the office!

Tea Council was formed in the 1950’s for the promotion of tea and acts as the go between of producing countries and members companies in the USA.   Promotion has evolved into not just the promotion of tea but also directed more into the Tea and Health message. This is specifically achieved through Symposiums on Tea and Human Health (the most recent held in Washington, DC just last year).  The Fifth International Scientific Symposium on Tea & Human Health was a plenary session on new and emerging science regarding the effects of tea in promoting health and reducing the risk of chronic disease, with a discussion of the underlying mechanisms of action by tea polyphenols.

The symposium featured eleven top researchers in the field of tea and human health around from the world.

The Tea Assoc. of the USA was established in 1899 and is the voice of the tea industry. They respond to media and preserve and promote tea.  They oversee the supply chain, government issues, etc. 

Member companies of the Tea Association of the USA include larger companies such as Unilever, Nestle, Tata, Tetley, Harris just to name a few.  They are also part of the Tea Council.

The Tea Council includes Boards and/or government of other tea producing countries.

The Tea Association of the USA also has an Arbitration Committee.  Let’s say for example that a buyer and seller have a dispute over 40,000 pounds of tea that changed hands and the tea turned out not to be the same quality as the samples.  The teas will be tasted to see if it is a quality issue. They will work to resolve the dispute. 

The Association also helps to protect against faulty labeling. They also provide a list of statements that are ok or not ok to say about tea.  They will preview labels for members and ADVISE if changes might be necessary.  They will assist when possible, but members will always need to consult with their own legal counsel on certain matters.

The Tea Association oversees a thriving industry that represents products that are synonymous with a healthy life style. By virtue of its strength, knowledge and experience, they continually attract & develop future leaders/innovators in the tea trade. They serve members, products, and the industry with pride & passion. They encourage the increase of tea consumption in this country and provide services that may lawfully help to increase the quality, efficiency, profitability and well-being of the industry.

The industry and member companies operate in a uniquely international environment. Continuing communication with other associations, Tea Councils, international agencies, producing countries and other interested parties are essential.

I encourage you to support the Tea Association of the USA, Tea Council, and Specialty Tea Institute through a membership level best suited to your type of business and educational sessions to ensure tea is represented accurately.  Contact them:

The Tea Association of the USA
362 Fifth Avenue, Suite 801
New York, NY 10001 
Tel: 212-986-9415
Fax: 212-697-8658

Next week: An Outtake "From the Desk of"...Peter Goggi







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