Just in time for summer and National Iced Tea Month (June), the North American Tea Championship selected 20 first-place winners in numerous categories during its annual Iced Tea Class evaluation. The 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.
"The overall cup quality standard for iced beverages is higher than it was just a few years ago. Plus, innovation has strengthened. Let's hope these are trends that continue," says NATC judge Eliot Jordan, director of tea at Peet’s Coffee & Tea.
NATC judge Anthony Tellin, a former tea buyer/formulator for Starbucks' Tazo and the current tea buyer and director of operations at Smith Teamaker, says, "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."
The next North American Tea Championship, for spring 2013 harvest teas, takes place in July.
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 says 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," Tellin says. "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."
Wilbur Curtis, a leading manufacturer of tea brewers and accessories, was the host and equipment supplier for the North American Tea Championship Iced Tea Class evaluation. Global Customized Water provided 300 gallons of water for the competition.
Iced tea first-place winners include:
-QTrade Teas & Herbs, Emerald Green, Foodservice Unflavored/Unsweetened Green
-S&D Coffee and Tea, Teafinity Sweet, Foodservice Bag-in-Box Sweetened Black
-S&D Coffee and Tea, Teafinity Unsweet, Foodservice Bag-in-Box Unflavored/Unsweetened Black
-Art of Tea, Summer Peach, Foodservice Flavored Black
-Shangri La Tea Co., Shangri La Natural, Foodservice Unflavored/Unsweetened Black
-QTrade Teas & Herbs, Summer Solstice, Foodservice Flavored Green
-Teatulia Organic Teas, Hibiscus Tea, Foodservice Herbal
-Tiki Tea, Apricot Papaya Strawberry, Instant Flavored Black
-Waterfall Tea Company, Instant Chai Latte Mix, Instant Sweetened Black
-Tiki Tea, Tiki Tea/Acai Blueberry Pomegranate, Instant Flavored Green
-Mellow Monk, LLC, Lightly Roasted Iced Green Tea, Instant Unflavored/Unsweetened Green
-Third Street Inc., Organic Hibiscus Mango Ginger, Instant Herbal
-Dr. Pepper Snapple Group, Snapple Half 'n Half (Lemonade Iced Tea), Black Flavored Ready-To-Drink
-H2M Beverages, Herbal Mist Iced Tea, Ready-To-Drink Sweetened Black
-Crystal Geyser Water Company, Tejava Premium Iced Tea, Ready-To-Drink Unflavored/Unsweetened Black
-TEAloe LLC, TEAloe Mint, Ready-To-Drink Flavored Green
-ITO EN (North America), TEAS' TEA Half & Half Green Tea with Lemonade, Ready-To-Drink Sweetened Green
-ITO EN (North America), TEA'S TEA Green Tea, Ready-To-Drink Unflavored/Unsweetened Green
-Gizmo Beverages, Tea of a Kind - Pomegranate Acai White Tea, Ready-To-Drink Herbal
-Evy Tea, LLC, Tea Cuvee Amber Oolong, Ready-To-Drink Flavored Oolong