A DAY IN my shoes, kim jage, north american tea championship, world tea media, world tea east, world tea expo
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A Day in My Shoes
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Episode 11, Part 3 - A Day in My Shoes - Kim Jage - North American Tea Championship-World Tea Media

Monday, October 14th 2013 @ 12:00 AM

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A Day in My Shoes – Episode 11, Part 3 - Kim Jage, North American Tea Championship, World Tea Media


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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 11, PART 3 – A DAY IN MY SHOES – KIM JAGE, NORTH AMERICAN TEA CHAMPIONSHIP, WORLD TEA MEDIA

This is far too exciting! The Celebration Jasmine tea is ready - CLICK HERE!

 

Hello everyone, Gail here.  As you all know, I recently had the pleasure of creating my very own tea blend in Episode 11, Parts 1 and 2 at SerendipiTea with Linda Villano (see archived links in left column).  The experience could quite possibly be described as THE best day ever – immersed in tea.  Blending tea is not easy and takes quite some time to get the balance of ingredients just right and to record the recipe of the final blend.  I have now experienced the trial and error of creating a blend and the excitement and pride that goes along with it once the final result is achieved.

Upon creating my tea, Celebration Jasmine, I could not help but celebrate the result and decided to make the tea available to others for all kinds of special occasions.  This experience very quickly led to multiple light-bulb moments when I thought it could quite possibly be considered a winner. Light bulb #1 – I must submit to World Tea East new product listing immediately and prior to the show in October.  Light bulb #2 – I must get this tea named, described, packaged and available for tasting and wholesale at World Tea East.  Light bulb #3 – Oh my gosh, this could be entered into the North American Tea Championship™! 

This final light bulb moment led me to the realization of how special that championship process is and how much it means to people who are doing this every day of the week!  The creativity that goes into creating a blend comes from very deep knowledge of tea and ingredients. A blend can be several similar teas together to create a consistent taste profile. A blend can also be a tea blended with other ingredients such as fruits or flowers for instance. Of course there are many categories of tea from single origin to scented, flavored and blended teas and all are unique and special in their own way.

The North American Tea Championship™ is an independent competition, judged by professional cuppers, to distinguish the highest quality & best tasting teas commercially available in the North American marketplace. It was created by Kim Jage, Director of Sales and Marketing for World Tea Media, and I know how much time and passion she has put into it.

The Tea Championship is made up of three classes: Hot Tea, Iced Tea, and Packaged Single Service Tea. Each class consists of its own categories and judging panel. The Hot Tea Class is evaluated twice a year: July for spring teas, and February for fall teas. The Iced Tea Class is evaluated once a year in May. The Packaged Single-Service Tea class is evaluated once a year in November. Looks like I need to wait until next year to enter for the Hot Tea Class! The anticipation will be killing me.

Winners of the Tea Championship are announced after each respective evaluation, personally and in a press release. Winning companies receive a formal announcement letter that includes the tea’s rating and ranking as well as a print-ready seal that can be used for all promotional materials and packaging. Winning companies also have an opportunity to showcase their teas at the annual World Tea Expo, the premier trade event for the industry, in the North American Tea Championship Tasting Winners’ Circle if exhibiting.

The timing was not right for me to personally experience this in the shoes of Kim Jage, so I have asked her to share with us what the Championship has meant to her, what it is like to be a part of it while all of the excitement is going on. The following words are from Kim….and I quote:

 

I learned more about tea from NATC than from any speaker, book, or educational session. One "light bulb" moment for me is when I realized how innovative the industry is. Our biggest challenge in creating the tea competition was defining tea types. After 5 years, this remains challenging and each year we re-visit and refine the definitions. The challenge exists precisely because the industry is incredibly innovative; new tea types emerge and classic standards change. Who ever heard of Aged-Baked Oolongs a few years ago? Further, we constantly witness little-recognized countries of origin producing superb teas typically attributed to another. It is exciting to know that no one can ever be a master of the Leaf. Tea insists we approach it with a beginners mind. As a result, tea presents us with endless opportunity to innovate, and make it our own. Just like you did, Ms. Gail...

Tea is tricky, though. It also insists we constantly cup it. Nowhere is that insistence - or the effect of ignoring the tea - more prevalent than on the NATC cupping table. I see first-hand what happens when tea is neglected. It is tainted, stale, or worse, lacks all cup characteristics of its given name. The reasons for the neglect are too many to explore here, but they can all be averted by one simple task: cup the teas you are selling more often. If professionals selling and buying tea actually cupped their merchandise on a regular basis, they'd sell more tea. I'd argue that they'd win a lot more at NATC too.

NATC celebrates craftsmanship and respect, which combined equal quality. Each time NATC awards a tea, I smile inside because I know that award means more than just the tea's ranking. – end quote.

 

I want to commend Kim for creating such a rewarding process that has come to mean a lot not only to the tea producers and manufacturers themselves, but to the tea community as a whole. Kim has worked tirelessly to support the tea industry in many more ways than I can possibly mention here, but I know you join me in appreciation for her hard work for so many people.

 

Watch for upcoming competition deadlines and results at http://www.teachampionship.com

 

 

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