Thursday, August 5, 2010
My Debut in Winestyles Uncorked Magazine
Tea Is Her Specialty
Interview with Desiree Nelson, Independent Tea Consultant and Sales Manager for QTrade Teas & Herbs
by CHAD COHEN
When Desiree Nelson started working at The Ritz-Carlton in Laguna Niguel, California, she had no idea she would inadver- tently find her calling in life: tea. It was here that she was first introduced to loose-leaf-tea and became enamored with the tradition and celebratory style associated with it. Business discussions take place over tea, in many cul- tures it is a central part of their homes, and, of course, there is the English style of tea. Desiree became determined to learn every- thing possible about tea, which, besides wa- ter, is the most popular drink in the world.
What does it mean to be a consultant for tea?
I am certified with the Specialty Tea Institute, have owned and operated my own brand of tea salons and also am the sales manager of QTrade Teas & Herbs, a leading ingredient provider and contract blender to the specialty tea and coffee industry. I specialize in improving tea busi- nesses or helping to develop a company’s concept and direction, which is currently my role with WineStyles. And, of course, I have served millions of pots and cups of tea.
How is tea similar to wine?
Both are great with food pairings and have complex layers of flavor. I recently had the pleasure of having an aged oolong, which is similar to an aged port and was quite spectacu- lar. Also, the climate and region the crop is
grown in plays equally important roles in both products and because of weather, the crop varies from year to year.
What is your favorite tea?
Organic white monkey, also known as Bai Hou, which is a high-grown Chinese tea.
What are some trends in the industry today?
Most people would be surprised by how many teenagers take to tea. Additionally, it’s become popular to have a nice fruit-blended tea (a tisane) with small pieces of candy as a dessert — it’s a combination of a serious and “foofy” beverage that is very enjoyable. I would also keep a lookout for organic and biodynamic teas as they will become more popular in the next decade. Bulk tea sales and places to buy them are on the rise and coming to your neighborhood soon.
What advice do you have if you are just starting to drink tea?
Start with what you are comfortable with and think about what you might enjoy: a for- mal single estate, a blended fruit or flavored tea, an herbal, a functional blend or tincture and think about the ways you want to cele- brate with it. It is also important to learn what the differences are in tea, from the Camellia plant to various herbal plants used.
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