US League of Tea Growers


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Presentation from the founding meeting of the United States League of Tea Growers at the World Tea Expo in Las Vegas, Nevada on June 8, 2013. This meeting was attended by many tea growers and some of the most influential people in the tea industry today. View more information here:

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US League of Tea Growers

  1. FOUNDING MEETING – June 8th 2013
  2. WHO WE AREJason McDonald – soon to betea farmer60,000 plants in nursery12 acres cleared and readyNigel Melican – teatechnology consultant with33 years tea productionexperience across 26 countries
  8. WHY THE SUDDEN INCREASE?• Burgeoning US tea market• Trend to Specialty tea• Opportunities for novel origins• High sales value supports higher production costs• Distrust of some traditional origins• Trend to localism – food miles concern
  9. US TEA SALES ARE RISING RAPIDLY.$1.8billion $4.3billion$7.8billion$15.0billion1990 2000 2010 2014Actual and projected sales, all teaSOURCES: Simrany, Joseph P. (2011). Tea Trends. New York, NY: The Tea Association of the U.S.A, Inc.; “Starbucks is Done with‘Coffee’. The Economist, Nov. 24, 2013.
  10. A HISTORY OF US TEA GROWING1795 - Andre Michaux grows Chinese seed in SC1848 – Julius Smith experiments with growing tea in Greenville SC1858 – US Gov commissions Robert Fortune to collect and import seed1880 – US Gov recruits John Jackson to plant 200 acres in SC1890 – Charles Shepard – Pinehurst Tea Garden, Summerville SC – 125 acres1901 – American Tea Growing Co plant 600,000 tea bushes1915 – Pinehurst abandoned1960 – TJ Lipton acquire the Pinehurst collection1965 – Lipton Tea Research Station established on Wadmalaw Island SC1984 – Lipton enters J/V with Alexander & Baldwin to grow tea in Hawaii1985 – Lipton closes LTRS and sell to Bill Hall and Mack Fleming – who createAmerican Classic Tea1988 – Lipton abandons tea growing in Hawaii2003 – Bigelow acquires the Wadmalaw Island tea farmIn the main a sad history of failed attempts. . .
  11. HOW IS US TEA GROWING DIFFERENT?Antithesis of traditional small farmer tea growing:• Low labour• Vertical integration• Small volume by choice• Requires a high level of investment• Suited to high tech – automation and mechanized• Can produce high value products• Products can be matched to markets• Diversification is welcomedI suspect these new methods will eventually guide traditional tea growing
  12. `````WHAT WILL ENSURE SUCCESS?WORKING TOGETHER TO:• Build up plant husbandry knowledge• Develop best practice processing knowhow• Develop appropriate automation• Product and process innovation• Trials related to US conditions• Access to cultivars specific to US requirements• Generic promotion of US grown teas• Collaboration and information sharing• Access to information resources• Development and promotion of agri-tourism
  13. COMPETITION IS BUILDING• The time frame is limited for US growers tocooperate and create a viable specialty teamarket presence• Sri Lanka, China and Kenya have each declaredspecialty tea market aspirations• UK, New Zealand and Australia are alreadydeveloping high value tea production andmarketing
  14. WHY US LEAGUE OF TEA GROWERS?• To connect far flung tea growers for mutual benefit• To form a platform for developing US specific teaknowhow, equipment, technology and cultivars onbehalf of members• To act as a catalyst for collaboration between UStea growers• To foster agri-tourism both as an educational toolfor increasing awareness of US grown tea and asan effective selling medium• To promote demand for US tea grown
  15. USLTG – WHAT NEXT?• Agree the need for an organization• Form an interim committee• Work up a constitution for discussion• Meet again to launch the organization• Create web site• Recruit members• Commence supporting US tea growing
  16. Thank you all for being here – andfor making history today
  17. KEY ROLES FOR USLTG1. To actively encourage the growing and production of high valuespecialty teas within the USA2. To bring together US tea growers on a basis of cooperativecollaboration3. To be the visible focus of tea growing in the USA.4. To promote and encourage knowledge about specialty tea and toprotect the name ‘tea’ as a Camellia sinensis derived beveragewherever possible.5. Act as an accessible repository and archive for information(technical, scientific, practical and commercial) relevant to US teagrowing.6. Encourage sharing of information, equipment and ideas betweenmembers7. Act as a forum for US tea growers and formally represent their viewson the US Tea Council and the International Tea Committee8. To interact internationally with tea growers and producers in othercountries to the mutual benefit of all9. Encourage new entrants into tea growing in the USA via education,provision of training, and dissemination of information10. Provision of practical assistance to new growers via workshops,access to cuttings, and pooling of machinery
  18. 11. Stimulate machinery and systems development by academiaor commercial companies to facilitate high technology teaagronomy and harvesting.12. To produce best-method handbooks of proven practicaladvice on growing, harvesting and processing of tea in the USA13. Collect and maintain a gene pool representing all beverageCamellia material available in the USA14. Adding to the US held gene pool by accessing genetic materialfrom other tea producer countries15. Exchange genetic material with other gene pools16. Seek to understand the relationship between the Camelliasinensis genome and commercial requirements17. Test and evaluate the genetic material held to select varietiesor cultivars most suitable for US growing conditions – to includeseason extension, pest and disease tolerance, droughttolerance, mechanical handling suitability, processability, cupquality and health benefits.18. Encourage academia and commercial outlets to take up andrefine initial plant selections.19. To have a membership structure that incorporates a coremembership of active and potential tea growers, and anaffiliated membership of tea educators, tea market facilitators,tea scientists, tea authors and tea bloggers.