Rishi puts Milwaukee on the world's tea map
The world's leading tea growers and companies met in Las Vegas in May at the World Tea Expo, an annual trade show highlighting the industry's new products, growth and innovations. New this year was the first ever World Tea Championship.
With 268 teas from 46 companies competing in more than 20 categories, the competition proved that Milwaukee's Rishi Tea has not only been doing something different for the past decade, but also something very right.
Rishi took home seven first place awards -- more than twice as many as any other winning competitor -- and was the only company to clinch a first place award with an organic tea. In fact, it won all seven of its first places with organic teas.
Co-founder Benjamin Harrison says being organic is a core company philosophy, "not just from a business standpoint, but also from a social and philosophical standpoint."
His business partner Joshua Kaiser agrees.
"Awards are great, but advancing the argument that organic tea can be just as good, if not better, than conventional tea is one of our core missions and the recent validation is the real reward," he says. "This year's event reinforces our mission: To offer the best teas of each season direct from the garden and to continuously set the standard for certified organic tea with artisan spirit."
The World Tea Championship is an independent competition judged by professional cuppers and industry experts to distinguish the highest quality and best-tasting teas commercially available in the North American marketplace. Rishi won first place awards for the following teas:
Breakfast Blend: Organic China Breakfast (Fair Trade)
Earl Grey: Organic Earl Grey (Fair Trade)
Japan Style: Organic Sencha
Jasmine Premium: Organic Jasmine Pearl
Mint: Organic Peppermint Rooibos (Fair Trade)
Silver Needle: Organic Silver Needle
Blended / Flavored: Organic Osthmanthus Silver Needle
"I think this competition is a good indicator of where the market's going," says Harrison. "We're at the point where there's enough of a market in the U.S. and a big enough of a company base to support it. More importantly, it's a strong indicator that there's enough consumer demand, understanding and appreciation for quality."
Rishi is the leading importer of organic artisan tea in North America, and Harrison says the company has recently began working with a European distributor in Scandinavia to provide the 100-plus loose-leaf and botanical tea blends for Norway, Sweden, Denmark and eventually Finland.
But for its hometown fans, Rishi is available all around Milwaukee, including Outpost Natural Foods, Beans and Barley, Sendik's, Whole Foods Markets, Anaba Tea Room and V. Richard's.
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Congratulations, Rishi! In my mind, I haven't had better teas than Rishi. I do the company's herbals, since I don't do caffeine, and the ones I've tried are excellent (i.e., Fire, Roobis, Organic Peppermint)!
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