Coffee and Tea Newsletter
coffee and tea festival
coffee and tea festival

cup for education

First Tea Training in Cuba

The International Tea Masters Association is offering the first-ever tea training of its kind in Cuba, a country enhanced by its music and dance.  Historic Havana is the ideal city selected to host the ITMA Certified Tea Sommelier  Course™ for becoming an ITMA Certified Tea Sommelier™, one of the most cherished titles in the industry.

The association, recognized throughout the world as the Gold Standard in tea education, was founded to provide Mastery Level training, education, and professional certification to individuals desiring to become an ITMA Certified Tea Sommelier™. Its superior faculty and outstanding curriculum are unmatched in the entire tea industry.

The training starts with the 2-Day ITMA  Comprehensive Tea Sommelier Course™ held on-site at the Melia Cohiba Hotel.  The training, which will be conducted in English, will be led by one of the association's exceptional certified tea master trainers who promise to make this an especially memorable, life-changing experience for everyone.

Accommodations are available at the Melia Cohiba Hotel.  Room rates are $287US per night in November, which is Havana’s busy season.  If rooms are not available, a good alternative is the Melia Habana Hotel with the same room rate and only 2 miles away. The 2-Day ITMA  Comprehensive Tea Sommelier Course™ will be held in a conference room at the host hotel, which accommodates up to 12 registrants. Seating is limited.

The training contains all the educational requirements an individual needs for achieving the association’s prestigious ITMA Certified Tea Sommelier™ designation once the program, blind tea tasting, oral or written dissertation, and final examination are successfully completed.

Registrants will experience some of the most exquisite and often rarest loose-leaf teas from around the world as they learn how to properly taste and evaluate a tea and capture its fragrant aroma.
Course tuition is $975US for association members ($1,225US for nonmembers).

To register for this remarkable experience, visit the association's web site at or contact the association by email at


Top Ten Food & Beverage Trends You'll Crave in 2016

A research leader on trends in the food industry, Sterling-Rice Group (SRG) has identified its annual top ten culinary trends that stand out on menus, expand onto grocery shelves, and attract consumer interest across the U.S. in the year ahead.

SRG's 2016 Cutting-Edge Culinary Trends were compiled by SRG's Culinary Team led by Culinary Director Kara Nielsen and feature examples of trailblazing food and drink trends and the brands leading the way for each of them. An extension of Culinary Shifts™, SRG's proprietary research based on key societal shifts affecting consumer behavior around food, the predictions provide insight for food industry companies to better develop, position, market, and sell food products.

"Cooks and diners continue to explore and relish all that's new in food, which is often not new at all, but rather a rediscovered ingredient, drink, or dish," says Kara Nielsen, SRG Culinary Director. "Yet these foods have been refashioned with a contemporary palate in mind, a palate that is appreciative of unusual textures, vivid sour flavors, and more savory balance. Marketers shouldn't be afraid to push the boundaries when innovating food and beverages."

Look for these cutting-edge culinary trends to expand in 2016:  

  • Switchin' to Switchels: Boasting health benefits of apple cider vinegar and ginger— and sweetened with honey, maple, or molasses—look for this colonial refresher to quench consumers' thirst in the year ahead.

  • 'Onolicious Hawaiian: From fast-casual to fine dining, traditional and 'ono (delicious) island ingredients are showing up in cool new dishes like poké bowls and musubi across the mainland.

  • Oysters to the Rescue: With sustainable seafood as important as ever, cultivated oysters are fueling an exciting resurgence of oyster bars. Expect the burgeoning Millennial taste for oysters to grow in 2016 and years to come.

  • The Savory Side of Yogurt: With all the health benefits of yogurt, less sugar, and a rich, savory taste, labneh is stepping into the spotlight. The thick, salted Middle Eastern yogurt-cheese plays well with olive oil, spices and seeds, vegetables, and even fruit. 

  • Coffee's New Guises: From coffee mocktails and sodas to dry-hopped coffee on nitro tap and coffee cherry brews, there's no end to the creative coffee libations coming our way from inventive baristas and beverage makers.

  • Swiggable Soups: With less sugar and more fiber than pressed juices, health aficionados are packing in the nutrients—and flavor—with convenient bottled soups.

  • Pumped-Up Porridge: As porridge is made with an ever-widening selection of grains—rye, spelt, black rice or quinoa, to name a few—combined with sweet and mostly savory toppings, consumers will seek this classic as a satisfying main or hearty side.

  • Intensified Dessert: From dessert menus to the candy aisle, sweet treats get a flavor boost with the addition of savory ingredients—think corn-husk ash, malt, and umami-rich miso paste—and au courant cooking techniques.

  • Pass the Platter: Restaurant chefs have fun and promote more convivial sharing with family-style meals complete with a centerpiece protein—whole fish or chickens, piles of ribs—and accompanying sides.

  • Mail-Order Meal Mania: Meal-kit delivery services will continue to explode in 2016 as the big players expand nationally and smaller start-ups tap niche cuisines and dietary trends. 

For a complete look at SRG's 2016 Cutting-Edge Culinary Trends, visit


The Tea House Times: New Look Unveiled

The TEA House Times has undergone an impressive re-design to support a growing interest in the enjoyment of tea. Connecting businesses and consumers since 2003, the publication aims to fulfill a passion for tea across many genres. Key features include CUISINE – CULTURE – CONNOISSEUR – CONNECTIONS.  The TEA House Times is a bi-monthly publication available both digitally and in print. website provides direct access to each issue, back issues, extensive tea industry news, information, business and consumer-friendly events and activities, and Tea Course education programs online and in person.

“T E A. . . it's a comfort thing™,” says Gail Gastelu, owner and publisher of The TEA House Times. “Comfort means different things to different people. Yes, it's the cuppa your grandma served you to make you feel better. Yes, it's something you do socially – the enjoyment of a perfectly brewed cup of tea or full afternoon tea service. Yes, it's something you do for yourself - a break, a little 'me time.' Yes, it is the ultimate power lunch –, to enjoy afternoon tea over business. There is also comfort in the action of learning enough about tea to confidently buy it, serve it, or sell it. People in the business of tea know the comfort that tea brings to their customers and customers appreciate that. 'T E A. . . it's a comfort thing™' - it really is and I am extremely proud of the new look and excited to continue to provide that feel-good connection so many people need.”

The TEA House Times launches the new look with its November/December 2015, 13th Anniversary Issue. Cuisine will include foods served at afternoon tea and other culinary creations using tea as an ingredient. Culture will include the style and enjoyment of tea, multi-culturally; focusing on the tea growing regions of the world and unique service. Connoisseur will include educational topics about tea for businesses and consumers. Connections is a word that overall encompasses all that The TEA House Times stands for – bringing the comfort of tea to all people and all types of businesses that find value in providing tea to their customers. There are a few more new tea interest and business insight topics within, but many reader favorite categories remain including Travel, Poetry, Society, Etiquette, Party Ideas and more. An exciting new piece of business interest is a column written by Peter Goggi, president of the Tea Association of the USA, which provides a look into the state of the tea industry.  For further insight into the history of The TEA House Times and the recent redesign, you might like to read or listen to Ms. Gastelu's blog entry here.

The TEA House Times' fully automated website encourages self-service to subscribers and advertisers of tea related products or tea service. Subscribers who wish to access current and back issues digitally may self-register via website. If you prefer a print copy, order at

Advertisers are encouraged to self-register at The TEA House Times website. A low monthly fee includes an entry level ad in print and online, unlimited press release and event postings on your behalf and many other perks. Color ad upgrades are discounted once in the entry level program and may also be ordered online once logged in. Display advertisers of ¼ page or larger receive a complimentary banner ad on the site's home page as well.

To learn more about The TEA House Times publication and related news, education, and services, or to find a tea room, tea speaker, or other tea industry resource, please visit


Getting the Most Out of Your Coffee Grinder
Tips from Capresso

A coffee grinder is an essential piece of equipment for brewing the perfect cup of joe. Coffee grinders that get a daily workout need tender loving care to perform its best time after time. 

Here are tips from Capresso for keeping a stand-alone coffee grinder in tip-top shape:

  • Choose a stand-alone burr grinder with removable burrs for the highest quality and the easiest maintenance.

  • Clean the grinding chamber daily, especially if using dark, oily beans.  It takes a few seconds, and it prevents coffee oils from collecting inside the grinding chamber and becoming rancid.

  • Always clean your grinder when switching between flavored and non-flavored beans.  Capresso Clean Grind, a natural formula that works when processed through your grinder, will eliminate stale coffee residue and oil buildup, preventing flavor transfer from one type of bean to another.

  • Use Capresso Clean Grind once a month to keep your stand-alone grinder in top condition.  This ensures a better tasting brew.

  • Periodically clean the upper and lower burrs with a brush. Check the feeder channel for coffee buildup and use a small brush to push any buildup into the coffee grounds container.

  • Empty the ground coffee container before it's completely full.  Otherwise ground coffee can back up into the grinding chute and block the grinding mechanism.

Like wine, coffee is both an art and a science, and coffee aficionados can enjoy a lifetime of exploration and discovery in pursuit of the perfect cup.  For more information, visit


The Famous Grouse and Owl's Brew Team Up to Develop Custom Tea Blends for Cocktail Lovers

The Famous Grouse, Scotland's no. 1 Scotch, and The Owl's Brew, the first-ever tea crafted for cocktails, just announced that they have joined forces to create two exceptional new tea blends: The Famous Mint Tea and The Smoky Earl to kick off the fall season.

This collaboration, the first official spirits partnership for The Owl's Brew, provides whisky drinkers and bartenders with quality and convenient products to create signature cocktails inspired by the classics at home and in the bar. The Famous Mint Tea is designed to pair with The Famous Grouse, while The Smoky Earl has been created to complement The Black Grouse's distinctively smoky character.

"Tea-based cocktails are a popular trend in the mixology world right now, and this special relationship capitalizes on that by providing consumers with two flavorful bespoke tea blends that mix perfectly with The Famous Grouse and The Black Grouse whiskies," said  Jim Brennan, SVP Marketing of Edrington Americas, the makers of The Famous Grouse. "We're excited to be a part of a partnership that spotlights a classic British tradition while tying back to the celebration of blending, a key component of our historical brand."

To create the customized teas, The Famous Grouse and Owl's Brew teams worked with a small group of some of the country's finest bartenders to develop blends that would complement and accentuate each of the whisky's distinct taste profiles, while also bringing classic British flavors to life as a nod to The Famous Grouse's heritage.

The Tea Blends

The Famous Mint Tea: a fresh-brewed peppermint tea with a hint of lemon that nicely balances the citrus fruit notes and clean finish of The Famous Grouse

The Smoky Earl: a fresh-brewed smoky Earl Grey and Lapsang Souchong tea, with  notes of honey and lemon, that complements the spice and dried fruit flavors of The Black Grouse

"We've always loved toddies and are thrilled to head into fall and winter with two new toddy-inspired offerings made specifically with The Famous and Black Grouse in mind," said Jennie Ripps, Founder and CEO of Owl's Brew. "Our all-natural Owl's Brew tea blends feature whole tea leaves, fruits and spices, providing beverage drinkers with a fresh and delicious taste."

Whether you prefer to have your cocktails crafted at the bar or mixed up at home, this new product provides a sophisticated option for whisky drinkers to enjoy no matter the occasion. In honor of the partnership, The Famous Grouse and Owl's Brew have tapped bartenders from around the country for recipes that at-home bartenders can mix up in the comfort of their own kitchen.

The Miner's Son
By Marco Zappia, Eat Street Social, Minneapolis
1.5 oz. The Famous Grouse
.75 oz. Owl's Brew The Famous Mint Tea
.5 oz. Simple Syrup
.33 oz. Fresh Lemon Juice
2 oz. Seltzer Water
Garnish: Lemon Peel, Expressed, Inserted
Combine all ingredients into a Collins glass.
Add ice and garnish with a lemon peel.

The Basket Case
Danny Neff, Holiday Cocktail Lounge, New York City
1.5 oz. The Black Grouse
.75 oz. Owl's Brew The Smoky Earl Tea
.5 oz. Meletti
5 Dashes Angostura Bitters
Garnish: Orange Twist
Combine all ingredients into a mixing glass. Add ice and stir until well chilled. Strain into a coupe and garnish with an orange twist.

The Famous Mint Tea and The Smoky Earl are available in 32 oz. bottles via the Owl's Brew website and retail partners for $16.99.  The Famous Grouse and The Black Grouse are available at fine spirits and liquor retailers nationwide for SRP of $24.99 and $29.99 (750ml) respectively.


People Who Order Coffee Black Are More Likely
To Be Psychopaths

Dating someone new? Interviewing for a job? No matter your circumstances, it may be time to start paying attention to how the people around you order their coffee—at least that’s what Kate Bratskeir, Food and Health Editor at The Huffington Post warns. 

A just-in-time-for-Halloween study published in the journal Appetite revealed that people who like their coffee black are more likely to possess anti-social and psychopathic personality traits. 

The research, which comes from the University of Innsbruck in Austria, examined the taste preferences of about 1,000 people, finding those who preferred more bitter notes in foods like black coffee scored higher on a series personality questionnaires that assessed Machiavellianism, a term used in psychology to describe personalities that are dark, psychopathic, narcissistic and sadistic. 

The study also notes that participants who reported a fondness for other bitter foods like radishes, celery and tonic water were also more likely to exhibit psychopathic traits.

From the standpoint of physical health, ordering your morning cup free of milk and sugar earns two thumbs up. Coffee provides some major proven benefits as varied as increased feelings of happiness, decreased risk for some cancers, and improved brain function. Straight black coffee-drinkers are reaping the benefits without consuming added calories and fat.

So, then, what does this all mean? Not much -- at least not yet. The study size was small and the data self-reported, a notoriously unreliable metric. Other research has found that food preference changes over time, so while a person may detest radishes (or bitter coffee) at one point in their lives, they may crave them during another. Still, the researchers hope this novel look at the connection between personality and eating behavior will lead to further study. 

Thanks for the warning, Kate!


Two Weeks Away! Coffee & Tea Festival Philly, Nov. 7-8, 2015