For me, the biggest draw of attending the Coffee and Tea Festival NYC was about trying new coffee and tea brews. But it is also about taking some of those samples home with me. I also enjoyed getting introductions to companies that are new to me. In addition to having great tasting products, many have positive background stories. You can have good tea and coffee and feel good about it.
Many of the vendors exhibiting at the festival offer premium quality products. So my “haul” is rather limited. I’m more in favor of quality over quantity! Let’s get to know Ippodo Tea Co. Kyoto, Ajiri Coffee, Four Sigmatic and Sugimoto America!
Sugimoto America Kukicha
Green teas were very popular at this year’s Coffee and Tea Festival. I really enjoyed the Kukicha from Sugimoto America. While many teas are made from tea leaves, Kukicha is solely made from the stems of green tea. The tea has that fresh, light smell you get from green tea. However, it looks perhaps more similar to blades of grass. I found Sugimoto America’s Kukicha to be very flavorful and not easily over-brewed. It’s very refreshing.
Sugimoto America is the US arm of Sugimoto Seicha, a green tea company from Shizuoka, Japan. The land they use to farm their tea is recognized by the United Nations as a Globally Important Agricultural Heritage System (GIAHS). This means they use traditional, sustainable farming practices. Their tea processing facility, similarly, also utilizes green techniques to offset their energy requirements.
Gokujo Hojicha from Ippodo Tea Co. Kyoto
Hojicha is similar to Kukicha. However, Hojicha is roasted. This is what gives this green tea its dark brown color and its rich, smoky flavor. The Hojicha from Ippodo Tea Co. Kyoto was the first tea I sampled at the Coffee and Tea Festival NYC. And I was pretty much sold immediately. This Hojicha has a rich and well balanced taste that can stand up to multiple brewings.
Based in Kyoto, Ippodo Tea Co. has been in the green tea business for roughly three centuries. In addition to shops in their hometown and Tokyo, the company has had a location in New York since 2013. The Ippodo Tea NYC shop is located by Grand Central Station and the Chrysler Building. It serves up all nature of matcha and tea beverages to go.
Ajiri Coffee Kenyan AA whole bean
I was first introduced to Ajiri a year or two ago at the Coffee and Tea Festival Philadelphia. At that time, I went home with their rooibos (which I wrote about last year) and my husband a box of their coffee. When we saw their stand at the NYC festival he didn’t need much convincing to take a box of whole bean coffee home. (The owner joked we were her easiest sale of the day.) He enjoys how well roasted the Ajiri coffee is. It has a rich flavor not a burnt roast taste.
Ajiri is deeply invested in Kenya. The company gets most of its tea and coffee from local farmers in that country: the tea from cooperative farmers and the coffee mostly from small-scale farms. Ajiri’s elaborate and artful decorative packaging is handmade by women in western Kenya. As a result, 100% of the profits support orphan education in western Kenya.
Four Sigmatic Chaga Mushroom Elixir Mix
I have to admit, I’d never heard of Finnish company Four Sigmatic and its mushroom coffee before. And I was curious. Apparently in Finland, during the war, mushrooms were used as a common substitute for coffee. Fast forward to today’s health conscious society. Besides being merely an alternative for coffee, the mushroom has many health benefits. As a result, Four Sigmatic is offering a variety of mushroom coffee mixes. They even have a hot cacao mix! They’re also very dedicated to educating on the health benefits, even offering their own free e-learning course.
The Chaga Mushroom Elixir Mix is an instant powder you just add to water or a smoothie. But when mixed with water, it doesn’t seem instant. It’s thicker and full-bodied albeit not coffee-flavored persay. And while you might be expecting it to taste earthy due to the mushroom, it has a more mild flavor. You can taste many of the natural flavorings added, such as rose hips.
Have you tried any of these coffees or teas? Share your thoughts in the comments below!