Nonprofit International Specialty Tea Association brings rare brews to US tasters

On June 16, 60 attendees were able to try a gourmet dinner at Alize French restaurant at the Palms, 4321 W. Flamingo Road.

Tea Pairing in the Sky matched fine dining with specialty teas. Diners paid at least $175 to try seven courses and seven specialty teas. One example from the menu: Foie Gras Terrine (Smoked Duck & Artichoke Crepe, Orange Marmalade, Candied Pecans & Basil) paired with Bai Long Xu White Dragon Whisker Sheng Puer Tea.

Outside the Alize kitchen, Zuping Hodge of Tucson’s Seven Cups Fine Chinese Teas carefully brewed the teas that had been paired with each course. She and the restaurant’s executive chef, Mark Purdy, had spent hours deciding which teas were best with each of the foods featured.

Attending the dinner were tea fanciers from around the world who were in town attending World Tea Expo 2016 at the Las Vegas Convention Center. The host for the event was Austin Hodge who, during dinner, explained the names and origins of each Chinese specialty tea served. One of those teas, he said, had leaves that were picked only during one seven-day period every year.

Though Hodge and his wife now run a tea house, that wasn’t the case several years ago when Hodge, then a database designer, had met a Chinese graduate student who offered Hodge a kind of Chinese tea he had never experienced. He wanted to buy some of the tea and found it was not available in the U.S. Hodge says he loves a challenge and subsequently went to China and learned that although China supplied most of the tea consumed in the U.S., many of the country’s best teas were not available here. The discovery eventually led Hodge to a new business, Seven Cups Fine Chinese Teas.

Not content with just owning a tea shop, Hodge is now encouraging the recognition of specialty teas through a new nonprofit organization called the International Specialty Tea Association. His association hopes to set standards for specialty teas similar to the standards set for specialty coffees.

Prior to the dinner, the association also presented awards to outstanding individuals in the specialty tea world. Presenting the awards was Barbara Fairchild, former editor-in-chief of Bon Appetit magazine. Fairchild admitted she was not a tea expert but said, “I think the time has come for North America to give tea the recognition it deserves; we are generally very behind in our knowledge of fine teas.”

One of the award winners was Rajen Baruah, who came out of retirement four years ago to enter the specialty tea business in the state of Assam, India, where most Indian teas are grown. He works with 500 small growers, motivating them to use good practices to produce quality teas. “I teach them to make a cup of tea from the heart,” he said.

Another award recipient was writer Dan Bolton, who used a Kickstarter campaign to establish a new glossy magazine for tea fanciers called “Tea Journey.” The color publication features articles and photographs from throughout the world.

Among the dinner guests was Linda Gaylard, who calls herself a “tea sommelier” after about 250 hours of classroom time studying teas at George Brown College in Toronto. She often lectures on teas, their history and their contribution to a stylish life. If Gaylard is using a large enough purse, she said she will carry her favorite tea and a tea diffuser with her to a restaurant. If she’s lucky enough to order a pot of hot water to use with her tea and the teapot has a strainer, then she’s fine. Or, she laughed, “I’ve found a way to use my fork to skim tea leaves from a cup of good tea.”

Although planning and hosting Tea Pairing in the Sky was a great deal of work, Hodge said he will definitely host a “second annual” dinner next year.

New MLK freeway onramps
How to navigate the trio of new freeway onramps from Martin Luther King Boulevard. (Mick Akers/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Extreme weather closes Scenic Loop in Red Rock Canyon
High winds and flooding closed the Scenic Loop in Red Rock Canyon National Conservation area Thursday. Minor flooding across Highway 159 caused drivers to slow, but didn't close the road. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
Learning live-saving techniques in Stop the Bleed class
Leslie Shaffer, an AMR paramedic, shows how to control bleeding during a Stop the Bleed course at the Summerlin Library. The class is designed to teach anyone how to control and stop life-threatening bleeding. (Mia Sims/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Mount Charleston Gets Heavy Snow, Fog
Mount Charleston saw heavy snow today, and fog in lower elevations as a cold front swept across the Las Vegas Valley. (Benjamin Hager/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Tourists enjoy rain in downtown Las Vegas
Tourists break out the umbrellas. But Brian Herting of Lincoln, Nebraska, dons shorts and a T-shirt, as he makes his way through downtown Las Vegas. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
Thick fog blanketed Las Vegas Valley on Tuesday
Thick fog blanketed Las Vegas Valley on Tuesday. The National Weather Service.forecast called for a 50 percent chance of rain. (Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @bizutesfaye
Time lapse video of fog covering the Strip
The Las Vegas Strip is shrouded in fog Tuesday, Jan. 15, 2019. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
Tony Spilotro's Las Vegas home for sale — VIDEO
The former Las Vegas home of Chicago mob enforcer, Tony Spilotro, is now for sale. Spilotro, who was portrayed by Joe Pesci in the film Casino, is the original owner of the home at 4675 Balfour Drive, built in 1974. (Samia DeCubas/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Buffalo Drive And Mountains Edge Parkway Fatal
Las Vegas police and the Nevada Highway Patrol are investigating a fatal crash in the southwest valley on Saturday afternoon. (Richard Brian/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
UNLV's Joel Ntambwe on his play
UNLV forward Joel Ntambwe talks about his play at this point in the season. Video by Mark Anderson/Las Vegas Review-Journal
Sam Schmidt chats about hectic off-season
IndyCar team owner Sam Schmidt and lead driver James Hinchcliffe chat about the hectic off-season at the SpeedVegas high-performance driving facility outside of Las Vegas, Nevada, on January 10, 2018. (Ron Kantowski/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
R-J's Mark Anderson on UNLV's victory
Review-Journal sports reporter Mark Anderson recaps UNLV's victory at New Mexico. Video by Mark Anderson/Las Vegas Review-Journal
UNLV's Noah Robotham on the win at New Mexico
UNLV guard Noah Robotham talks about winning at New Mexico on Jan. 8, 2019. (Mark Anderson/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
UNLV's Kris Clyburn on big 3 vs. New Mexico
UNLV guard Kris Clyburn talks about his key 3-pointer against New Mexico. (Mark Anderson/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Marvin Menzies on beating New Mexico
UNLV basketball coach Marvin Menzies talks about UNLV's win at New Mexico on January 8, 2019. (Mark Anderson/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
New HOV Ramp Scheduled to Open in March
New HOV ramp scheduled to open in March of 2019.
American Preparatory Academy part of charter school growth in Las Vegas
American Preparatory Academy in Las Vegas has a waiting list of students who want to attend. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
Wheelchair tournament at UNLV
Cesar Robledo talks about wheelchair basketball and what it means for players to compete during the Wheelchair Basketball Division I-II Tournament at UNLV in Las Vegas, Sunday, Jan. 6, 2019.
Snow in Henderson on New Year's Eve morning
Light snow flurries in Anthem Highlands in Henderson on Monday morning, the last day of 2018.
Marvin Menzies on UNLV's trip to Hawaii
UNLV basketball coach Marvin Menzies talks about the upcoming trip to Hawaii. Video by Mark Anderson/Las Vegas Review-Journal
Raiders Stadium Timelapse
Construction on the new Raiders stadium continues in Las Vegas.
Pinecrest Academy Horizon principal wins Milken Educator Award
Tony Sanchez on UNLV's recruiting class
UNLV football coach Tony Sanchez talks about his early signing class. Video by Mark Anderson/Las Vegas Review-Journal
The Magical Forest at Opportunity Village
Opportunity Village's Magical Forest added 1 million lights and a synchronized music show visible from all over the forest this year. The holiday attraction, which began in 1991, has a train, rides, food and entertainment along with the light displays. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Siegel Cares delivers bagels to families in need
Since Thanksgiving, Mark Lenoir of Siegel Cares, has been delivering leftover Bagelmania bagels to families staying at the Siegel Suites.
Dan Barnson steps down
Arbor View football coach Dan Barnson stepped down Friday after 12 seasons at the helm. Under Barnson, the Aggies won 104 games and became one of the top programs in Las Vegas. The Aggies went 12-2 in 2018 and won a region championship for the first time in program history. Barnson loves Friday nights, but said the 12-month commitment was getting exhausting.
NFR 2018 Highlights
NFR 2018 highlights from every round of this years rodeo.
NFR 2018 Round 10 Highlights
NFR 2018 Round 10 Highlights of the 2018 Wrangler National Finals Rodeo from the Thomas & Mack in Las Vegas, Nevada. (CBS Sports Network/PRCA)
NFR- Joe Frost
NFR Bull Rider Joe Frost talks about the difference in bulls and his family legacy with Cassie Soto before the last round of the National Finals Rodeo.
Herm Edwards on LV Bowl loss
Arizona State coach Herm Edwards talks about the loss in the Las Vegas Bowl. Video by Mark Anderson/Las Vegas Review-Journal
Tony Sanchez wraps up the UNLV season
UNLV football coach Tony Sanchez wraps up the season. Video by Mark Anderson/Las Vegas Review-Journal
News Headlines
Home Front Page Footer Listing
You May Like

You May Like