Tea Biz
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Tea Biz News and Insight - June 24, 2022

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

HEAR THE HEADLINES – Tea Retailers Brace for Recession | Kenya Tea Prices Rebound | Pakistan Asks Citizens to Cut Back on Tea 

| GUEST – Tracy Bell, co-founder of Millennia Tea in New Brunswick, Canada

| FEATURE INTRO – Millennia Tea in New Brunswick, Canada, sells raw tea leaves as food. The leaves are washed, chopped, frozen, and sold by major grocers to be brewed as fresh green tea or formed into cubes to be blended in smoothies.

Farm to Freezer – Millennia Tea co-founder Tracy Bell explains that “instead of picking the leaves and then withering them and processing them in a number of ways, like your conventional dried teas, we work with farmers to pick those same organic tea leaves, and then we wash them and we treat them like frozen fruit, just like frozen blueberries and strawberries. We believe that tea is food, and we want to give consumers the opportunity to enjoy it in its most real, raw, and naturally powerful format.”

The Tea Biz podcast delivers tea news that you need to know, a recap of the week's major headlines, with commentary and cultural trends. Hosted by Dan Bolton. It is the voice of origin for tea professionals and enthusiasts worldwide. Think of us as a digital caravan of story tellers, bringing authentic, authoritative and exclusive stories to you weakly from the tea lands. Hello everyone here. This week's headlines Tea retailers are bracing for a recession, Kenya tea prices rebounded, and Pakistan asks its citizens to cut back on tea. Plus Millennia Tea in New Brunswick, Canada, sells raw tea leaves as food. The leaves are washed, chopped, frozen and sold by major grocers to be brewed as fresh green tea or formed into cubes and blended in smoothies. Born a minute, but first this important message. What makes a Perfect Cup of Ceylon tea? The Perfect Cup is from the tea businesses that ensure the protection of all the children living within their tea estates. We Salute Kailani Valley, Tellawackie, Bogo, Wan Thalawah HARANA and Elyptiac t estates support see the children Sri Lanka. Economic Indicators signal a global downturn that already is pressuring te retail the severity and duration of a looming recession are difficult to the cipher. According to economists, job openings remain near a record high in the US and unemployment is narrow a five decade low. Yet inflation jumped eight point six percent last month, the biggest monthly increase since one thousand nine hundred and eighty one. Europe and Asia report faltering growth. Airlines, hotels, movie theaters, concerts, bars and tourists destinations are experiencing sustained growth this summer. Specialty retailers are among the businesses the so far say they have been shielded from the slowing economy, according to reports by CNBC, whether a recession occurs late this year or two thousand and twenty three, the recent spike in inflation has definitely crimped spending. The US Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the cost of food away from home grew by seven point four percent during the twelve months ending in May, while the price of food consumed at home grew eleven point nine percent. Restaurant visits slowed in May and consumers optimism about the overall economy felt a fifty point two percent in June. According to the University of Michigan's monthly index. Eight in ten US consumers say they plan to pull back on spending in the next three to six months. According to a survey conducted by consumer research verb NPD group. T retailers and wholesalers should take precautionary measures, including reducing their inventory of teas. The consumers view with ambivalents. Harvard Business Review Rights that to survive a downturn, retailers must close their needs offer gaps to gain share and offset sales they will inevitably lose when their most loyal customers reduce spending. Quote. Current and recent data can tell you only what is selling, not what could be...

...selling or will be selling. According to hbrs five rules for retailing in a recession. The article cautions that tracking sales on a daily basis conditions merchants and store managers to stock up on what is selling well and pair down on what's not. This leads to big gaps between a retailer's offer and what consumers want, since it says nothing about what consumers might be buying elsewhere. In its retail perspective series, consultancy deloit cautions that the pandemic continues to pose unique challenges for retail. Customer retention is critical. Quote. No matter the retailer, one cannot overstate the damage done when stores are closed for months at a time. Each regular customer represents a relationship that took years to develop and nurture, and losing that continuity as a risk to any retailer's position in the marketplace. and quote, according to Deloy, quote, even before the Covid nineteen crisis began, our report the next consumer recession found that retail was facing several financial issues that could make it difficult to whether a recession. These include increasing dead burdens, moderating revenue growth, compressing margins, increased SGNA and slowing asset turnover. Across retail, we are seeing significant weaknesses in the foundation. The technology and process architecture of retailers. Often vulnerable to sudden shocks, are now completely exposed. Even many retailers that had been making incremental moves toward transformation have not been able to cope with the halt and store traffic demand on digital and shocks to the supply chain. Even retailers who fared well in the pandemic should take account of the damage done up and down their value chain and begin to develop strategies to restore what has been lost. In quote business insight, here are four questions retailer should ask. Number one, which categories of tea should be expanded based on strong sales and profit? which should be shrunk because both their potential and productivity are low, which should be fixed rather than shrunk because their productivity is low but their head room is high, and finally, which should remain as they are, because their productivity is high but their head room is low. Kenya reported strong egg sports during the first quarter, earning about three hundred and fifty million dollars, but twenty percent increase compared to last year. During that same period that Kenya teaboard reported a seventeen million kilo decline in volume to a hundred and thirty five a million kilos, which was offset by much stronger prices. Tea At auction averaged three hundred and four shillings per kilo during the quarter, about two dollars and fifty eight cents per kilo. US sales to Russia decline six percent, and Pakistan purchased two million fewer kilos during the quarter, a decline of five percent. Sales to Egypt were down three percent. In his monthly report, the teaboard attributed the decline in export volume to,...

...quote, the effect of the Russia Ukraine crisis that caused the global economic recession and thus negatively affected commodity markets and, quote. Kenya's top ten buyers account for eighty eight percent of the countries one billion and annual tea exports. During the first quarter, only Sudan purchased more tea than the previous year. Russia, formerly ranked as number five among the export partners, fell out of the top ten, trailing Nigeria, Poland and Afghanistan. According to business daily Africa business insight. In early July, six hundred eighty thousand Kenyan smallholders are anticipating the largest bonus since two thousand and sixteen, when they receive fifty nine shillings per kilo, then a five year high. In past years, the bonus was paid in October, but the tea act of two thousand and twenty advanced payment to July. Farmers also receive monthly payments based on the amount of green leaf harvested. Monthly payments vary from seventeen to twenty one shillings per kilo, earning growers about a hundred eighty US dollars for every thousand kilos. The current exchange rates, growers highest and average of one thousand, eight hundred and ninety kilos annually. According to the Ministry of Agriculture, lenders say that half of the bonus is used to pay school fees, another thirty percent buy household goods was twenty percent used to pay off old debt. Pakistan is facing such a severe foreign currency crisis, then a top government official ask citizens to cut back on tea consumption, a costly import. Pakistan is the world's largest tea importer, buying more than six hundred million dollars worth of tea from Kenya, Shloka and Dubai. The BBC quoted senior minister a Shawn a ball at a press conference calling on people to, quote, reduce their tea drinking by one or two cups a day, because we also borrow money for the tea which is imported and, quote. The minister also as citizens to conserve electricity. He was verbally pummeled online. Residents who, drinking average of three cups per day, called for his resignation. Prices for fuel, natural gas and electricity or up forty five percent, and food inflation is soaring. Cooking oil is at an all time hive, two dollar and sixty five cents per kilo, of three hundred percent in the past year. The Pakistan rupee recently fell to a record low of two hundred and six against the US dollar. Pakistan's government needs thirty six billion dollars to meet its financial obligations and must repay twenty one billion dollars in foreign dead in the new fiscal year. The country is seeking a six billion dollar bailout from the International Monetary Fund. Are Vinda and in their man in Bengalour u reports on this week's tea auction prices. Indiat de price support for the week ending June eleven, two thousand and twenty two heavy rains in a Sama causing landslides and flooding. The Indian met department has issued at Adelotte for the next few days for the state. A rule linking a sambath neighboring at. A natural tradition was damaged and the capital city of Gohati seem civil you damage, with loss of life also being reported. Dudgeling and...

...other parts of the northeast, including Megalia and our natural potasia, also expected to receive heavy rain and read alerts have been issued the south, which sees monsoon in early June, so the rains are rive early, but there has since been a lull, pointing to a probable deficit in rainfall the season. In deep prices, there were more outlets and sale twenty three, which is it, calls for some concern. The highest selling category remains Orthodox dust across India. In the north, Orthodox Leaf sold well in sale twenty three, while CDC dust did better in the south. In Calcutta, Orthodox tee is still seeing good demand from exporters to the Middle East and CIS countries. Auction average prices increased in the last month for CTC and Orthodox sleeve. Holodge link is at its lowest price realization in a month, averaging at two hundred forty eight apiece thirty in pass this week Gohati saw marginally higher prices than sale twenty two. It continues to have about forty percent of the offerings UN sold. In the South Coatchin saw reduced demand for Orthodox Leef, although good Neili releaf so a better price compared to seale. Twenty two Kuno also saw subdue demand for CTC leaf, but all the green tea on offer was sold. And now a word from our sponsor. H Trade understands that a successful tea blend goes beyond the creative fusion of appearance or Roma and flavor. Are Multi Award winning product development team is passionate about converting natural in Green. It's it's sensory experiences that customers crave. Every recipe is formulated with a commercial backbone of dependable quality sourcing, with a pricing structure that supports a safe, regulated, profitable and scalable plant. Q trade meets every brand's retail, food service and e commerce need. For more information, visit our website few trade teascom. This week tea bus visits the founders of Millennia Tea the New Brunswick, Canada, a couple who sell raw tea leaves as food. The leaves are washed, chopped and frozen to you, sold by major grocers to be brewed as fresh green tea or blended in smoothies. What I learned whole foods was carrying millennias frozen green tea in Victoria, British Columbia, I made the journey across town to pick some up. I'd read about this Canadian company from the east coast of the country, the first in the world to sell raw, chopped frozen tea leaves, and I wanted to check it out to support the company's new take on this ancient beverage. It wasn't until I walked through the stores front doors on that overcast Spring Day that I realized I hadn't considered where in the store I would find the tea. Instinct told me to head to the cold beverage section, so I zipped down the skincare isle, Contemplating as I wandered over to the refrigerators. Would Millennia tea be near the refrigerated drinks like milk and orange juice, or maybe I should look near the frozen juices? Instead of wandering around, I approached a whole foods clerk wearing the signature black apron and asked where could I find frozen tea called Millennia tea. He seemed uncertain until I emphasized it's tea but the leaves are frozen, then he knew exactly where to point me, tracy, you can imagine my delight when, looking through the frozen fruit section, I saw millennia green tea right there by the...

...strawberries, Blueberries and Cherries. Why is that placement among frozen fruits a good fit for Millennia tea? Oh so we believe that the mighty tea plant should be considered food, and so, instead of picking the leaves and then withering them and processing them in in a number of ways, like your conventional dryed teas, we work with farmers to pick those same or bannic tea leaves and then we wash them and we treat them like frozen fruit, just like your frozen blueberries and strawberries. So we harvest them and then we wash them on the same day, because we believe that t is food and we want to give consumers the opportunity to enjoy it in its most real, raw and naturally powerful format. How did you get that placement in a grocery store? We asked for it because we're confusing right at the best of times. Our challenge is we're asking consumers to imagine the most consumed beverage in the world after water, in a way that they've never considered before and can't really pitcher in their mindside. And so then to say go find us in grocery, but it's almost like a where's Waldo scenario. Where you going to find us? And so when we met with our retail partners, we said, guys, look, you should be the consumers will be putting this in their smoothie. Can you put us with the other ingredients, if you will, that you would buy to either make a smoothie or boost a smoothie, and so that's how we ended up in the frozen fruits and Berry section. When we were speaking just before we started this interview, you mentioned that you had this idea, like, why isn't anybody doing this? Can you tell me a little bit about the conception of the idea and how it's now evolved to Millennia tea? Yeah, so a few years ago we had a health scare in our family and it got us looking at things that we hadn't previously considered, like free radical damage, and then a tea just kept coming up about how good tea and Macha are for neutralizing through radicals and protecting cells from damage and disease. And so we after doing our research, we learned that Egcgny accidents are highest in that plant in the hours immediately after it's picked. And so we had this hypothesis to get fresh tea. And when we couldn't get fresh tea, we were calling up tea plantations all over the world and when we couldn't get our hands on the plant in its purest, freshest form, we weren't happy with that and so we set out to create a new category of tea and to be able to enjoy the leaf in its purest form by and the process became wash and flash freeze, just like your other frozen super foods. So what happens to those health benefits when fresh tea is frozen? In all of our third party lab tests, our hypothesis was keep it, keep it real and raw, and then that in the Occident in particular which in the tea industry is known as the Darling of polyphenals, would be sort of preserved or safeguarded in its in its highest levels. And so when we got our hands on fresh tea leaves, and we did, we process the leaves and number of ways we sent unmarked Baggi's off two labs that are tested, or, sorry, that are experienced in testing catekins and tea plants. And and sure enough, it was true that that any accident sort of was preserved, nerved in its maximum format in the fresh frozen leaves. And we've gone on too patent that process and our patent is called process for maximizing egcg and Occidents and tea leaves. When you started approaching farmers and tea farms about getting your hands on fresh tea leaves, what was the response? We confused them. And and so we found cooperatives who were really interested in innovation and worked with them...

...directly on our process and we worked with farmers in and travel to Nandy Hills, Kenya and the Taco Columbia. Now we source some partner with farmers in in Sri Lanka and Ambulah and but, like lots of people, they thought we were a little off our rocker and it took some work. It took months of relationship building until we got to the point that they really understood and we were able to sort of create this process together that now everyone is really proud of. When a farmer is preparing leaves to send you to flash freeze and prepare? Is there a difference in the selection process and what leaves make the cut to get sent to Millennia tea? So, like you were, sort of highest quality organic loose leaf teath, that sort of two leaves in a bud, that that top part of the plant is is what we what we use as well. So a handpicked tea leaves. And then our whole process happens at source. And so the farmers, on the same day as harvest, they take the the the crop, the harvest, to a BRC certified flash freezing facility, the kind of place where only organic produce is allowed in the door, and then we do a double washed and a flash freeze on that same day. Now the fun part. For my first taste, I chose to steep the Millennia Green Tea Cube. They are individually wrapped in a perfect little cube that fits in the palm of your hand. I placed the cube in my teapot and poured the boiling water over it, watching immediately the pouring water loosen some of the tea which swirled in the pot as the hot water melted the ice crystals which were holding the tea cube together. More leaves separated, some floated to the top, some rested on the bottom. The shade of green at the leaves darkened in the water. Variations of green revisible. I confess I hesitated before taking my first SIP. Some green teas are a bit too bitter for me. I poured, I sipped, I delighted. Smooth, clean, delicious. Tea Lovers, of course, care very much about these health benefits that you're describing, but we also care about taste. HMM. How important is taste in the selection of leaves and preparation and development of Millennia tea? Priority number one for us is fine the regions that are known for producing the plants, that have sort of those high levels of antioxidants and that have the right ter wiring, growing regions for producing really quality tea leaves. So if you prepare our product as a hot tea, then well, you probably know, you can probably describe better than I can how it takes. But we're like a green tea, but we don't have some of that is stringency that you often get at the back of the mouth. So we're light and you want to infuse it multiple times, something that we found is that a lot of folks really know they should drink green tea because it's good for them for all the obvious reasons. But that barrier is the bitterness. So and so lots of times they have a hard time with a quality of really good quality green tea, and so we've been able to sort of bridge the gap, if you will, for them to get into tea, because usually our taste profile is a little bit easier. And then if you serve us in recipes or in smoothies, we act more like spinach er Kail in the sense that you don't really notice the taste of the product in the smoothie, but you get that sort of that hit of energy in any accidents that you'd expect, you recommend and that your tea can be steeped...

...three times. How does Millennia tea retain the flavors and health benefits even on the third steep because our leaves are are really real and rather just getting going on that first infusion? In Lab Studies, first infusion great, but it's second infusion that we actually spike in the Anne accidents and then they stay high on third and they start to come down from there. Obviously, and we also suggest, if you want to really maximize the benefit, if you will, the experience and not not waste anything, have a cup of tea today and then take the leaves and throw them in your Omelet or your bone broth or your soups or your sauces or your stews or your smoothie the next day. Millennia tea is currently available across Canada in grocery stores and online. While the product was still in development, it won best new product for innovation at the world t ex Bo a few years back. Recently, it one most innovative product of the year in over the counter health, awarded by the Retail Council of Canada. Plans are in place to bring Millennia tea to the United States market. Visit Millennia Teacom for news, product information and recipes. Intrigued by what you've heard in today's podcast, would you like to learn more from our global network of Tebiz journalists and t experts? Remember to visit the Te Biz website from more comprehensive coverage. That's wwwtz Bi zwcom. Thanks for listening. Farewell till next week.

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