Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Gotcha, matcha! World Tea Expo ’09 news

News is dribbling in from the annual World Tea Expo held earlier this month in Las Vegas. (I'm a little appalled by the lack of live news from the Expo. Where were the bloggers, news sites, etc.? I'm going next year, and will fill this void!)

The big trend this year appears to have been matcha tea powder, which was showcased in its original use — whisked into a traditional Japanese tea — but much more as an ingredident in numerous bottled beverages, as well as everything from snacks to cosmetics.

The following is a pretty good video — well, it's a slide show with live audio, from Celebrity Chef Connection via YouTube — sampling some of the exhibitors and their tastes and trends at this year's expo. You'll hear at least one matcha moment here, with one exhibitor saying, rightly, "If everybody had a matcha moment, we'd have a much happier planet."

I'm always intrigued by the annual winners of the World Tea Championship. The complete list of 2009 winners is here, and I'd love to hear from any readers who've sampled these teas previously or do so in the future. I've got the list bookmarked and plan to funnel the occasional disposable income in that direction.

I can speak to one winner: Tea Gschwendner's Earl Grey (No. 69), which is the most knock-you-over fragrant Earl Grey you'll ever encounter. The taste, however, is not so bold; rather, it's simply strong, confident and colorful. I recommend. (TG is capitalizing on the company's fine showing by offering a sampler of all their teas that won or placed in the championship.) Rishi Tea absolutely dominated the championship, with 28 total awards, 11 of those being winners. (They have a sampler for sale, too!)

The winning tea cocktail sounds bracing and refreshing: the Genevrier Verte (Green Juniper) by Max Solano of Emeril's Table 10. Here's the recipe, which I love for two chief reasons: (1) he uses Hendrick's gin, which is my favorite, and (2) he uses an egg white, which is a delicious throwback to classic cocktail couture ...

Genevrier Verte
1 1/2 oz. China Mist Pure Blackberry Jasmine Iced Green Tea with Lemonade
1 1/2 oz. Hendrick’s gin
3/4 oz. Agwa Coca Leaf Liqueur
3/4 oz. vanilla/clove syrup (see here)
1/2 oz. fresh lime juice
1 egg white
Shake over ice, strain, and pour into a chilled glass.

Here's a YouTube video of the contest at the ’09 expo. The event makes imbibing look about as much fun as painting baseboards, but hey ...

(That's the World Tea Expo, but here's another tea expo on the other side of the world: last month's China West Lake International Tea Culture Expo featured opening ceremonies, a Longjing tea exhibition, even reading of tea poetry.)

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