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Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Rishi Tea’s Refreshing Innovation

Milwaukee company scores big at World Tea Championship

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Enduring the summer heat can take on many forms, but few are as refreshing, convenient and wholesome as Rishi Tea’s recently introduced Natural Tealeaf Powders. And just because these pre-portioned sticks contain tea in powder form rather than loose leaves doesn’t mean customers are getting an inferior product in line with the massively produced to-go teas on grocery store shelves. Rishi Tea only imports authentic tea, direct from origin and fresh each season. The superiority of Rishi’s teas was affirmed at the 2009 World Tea Championship, where the Milwaukee-based company triumphed with an unprecedented 28 awards, including 11 first-place victories.

“I think what makes Rishi Tea quite unique, as compared to many other tea companies throughout the world, is that we partner with a lot of small gardens throughout Southeast Asia,” says Sean O’Leary, tea taster, apprentice tea buyer and China origin specialist for Rishi Tea.

Export companies will typically partner with one large tea estate that produces every type of tea, even varietals that are traditionally from different areas of origin. Much like coffee and wine, the taste and characteristics of different teas are created by variables like soil type, climate, rainfall, sunlight, type of varietal used and nuances of processing. As a result, the big estate teas have a common flavor profile, regardless of whether the tea is green, black or white. Because Rishi imports its organic teas from a vast network of small organic tea gardens in China, Taiwan, Japan, Vietnam, Laos, Thailand and India, among others, the company is able to develop unique flavor profiles for its teas.

Rishi’s Natural Tealeaf Powders are available in four flavors: Genmai, Matcha, Sencha and Oolong. Unlike instant tea extracts that can contain anything from aspartame to Red 40, Rishi’s tea leaf powder is made from pure tea leaves that are cold milled into a fine powder. Because the entire tea leaf is consumed, the tea powders impart 100% of the nutritional elements of the Camellia sinensis plant, including theobromine, theophylline and a type of antioxidant called catechin.

Tea also contains an amino acid derivative called theanine, which has been shown to reduce mental and physical stress and improve focus and cognition. Rishi recommends serving the tea cold by emptying one packet of its tea leaf powder into 16 ounces of water and giving it a shake. It’s perfect for anyone on the go, like commuters, students, travelers, athletes and busy parents. Rishi Tea is currently donating $1 to nonprofit, listener-supported 91.7 WMSE-FM for every tea powder box sold locally.

At this year’s East Side Green Market (ESGM), which takes place in the Beans & Barley parking lot on Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., Rishi Tea is selling tea products and prepared iced tea for thirsty shoppers. Local customers can also avoid shipping costs by placing their orders for Rishi Tea over the phone and picking up their purchases at the ESGM. The tea company was a vendor at the market’s opening day, Saturday, June 27, and will be present every other Saturday until the farmers’ market closes in October.

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