Interview with Rich Freedman: The World Tea Expo
The World Tea Expo Interview | June 7-9 | Las Vegas, NV
Rich Freedman, an owner and the tea buyer for the Teahouse, recently returned from the World Tea Expo in Las Vegas, NV – Read to see what new teas he’s bringing your way…
Rich, we’ll start with a broad question: how did you get into tea?
In 1997 I went on a diet that was quite restrictive, but that allowed me to drink as much tea or coffee as I wanted. The diet lasted one year, I lost 100 pounds, and I drank a lot of tea. It offered me the only real variety I had on that diet. There are hundreds of different teas available. At The Teahouse we carry about 140.
What is your tea of choice?
The basic answer is, I enjoy all kinds of tea. Lately, I’ve been experimenting a lot with Oolong Teas.
Describe Oolong Tea
There are 5 basic categories of Chinese teas -- black, green, white, oolong and puerh.
Oolong tea falls somewhere between green and black tea. Through repeated and complicated steps, a tea master, partially oxidizes the tea (green tea is not oxidized at all and black tea is fully oxidized). The best oolongs offer a rich flavor and a pleasant lingering aftertaste.
You currently offer 140 teas at the Teahouse, what keeps you wanting to add more?
When I get to taste a world-class tea, like our new White Tip Oriental Beauty Oolong, I want to share it with my friends.
What Teas did you pick up from the World Tea Expo that you are most excited about sharing with Teahouse guests?
In addition to the White Tip Oriental Beauty from Taiwan, we will be offering three terrific new Chinese black teas from Yunan Province. Yunan Royal Gold is one of the world’s great black teas, a rich, smooth tea consisting of only golden buds. Zhen Qu (Golden Buds) is a delicious tea with a rich aroma and wonderful honey like taste. Black Pagoda is an elegant black tea with long golden tips tied by hand into the shape of pagodas. It is full-bodied, but mild with a sweet aftertaste.
What was the World Tea Expo like and what were some of the highlights?
There were several focused tea tastings that I enjoyed. Also some great seminars, including courses on tea blending and pairing teas with food. I learned a lot and returned with some great new teas.
Similar to wine or coffee, tea has a lot of depth, but it seems that many people are only familiar with tea basics. What is it about tea that you hope people come to understand through their experiences at the Teahouse?
I am less concerned with understanding than I am with enjoyment. I want the Teahouse to be an unpretentious place where guests feel welcome to relax, drink great tea, eat delicious food, and enjoy each other's company.
For those who want to learn more about tea, I will be hosting Tea Tastings every Tuesday beginning in July. We will drink great tea (a white, green, oolong, black and puerh), talk about how and where each is made, how to brew them, and their health benefits.