About Jordan G. Hardin

Jordan has spent most of his life working in the food and beverage industry. His professional experience with tea started at American Tea Room in Los Angeles, where he worked for almost six years, becoming their Beverage Director and helping in a three-location expansion. Later, he moved to developing, training, and menu-building what would become Alfred Tea Room, which he's helped expand into Japan. He now serves as Food & Beverage Director for Alfred Inc. which includes Alfred Tea Room and multiple locations of Alfred Coffee in Los Angeles and Austin.

Tokyo: The 10 Essential Places for Tea

This hardly needs stating, but even so: Tokyo is a city like no other. The sheer density of food and drink around every corner, in every alleyway, and under every bridge is purely insane. I mean, how does a cafe with 12 seats, on the 8th floor of a gigantic department store stay alive? Moreover, how do people even know about it? The cuisine, in some small part, and the culture, in large part, are influenced by the Japanese Tea Ceremony, known as sado or chado, the practice of which is called chanoyu. Tea saturates Japan, and this intrinsic relationship can be felt from the [...]

Tokyo: The 10 Essential Places for Tea 2018-11-07T20:33:21+00:00

Huajuchen: The Largest Tea Festivals in the World

The Huajuchen Tea Expos. Perhaps you've heard of it, or even been to one. Or perhaps, what's likely if you don't speak Chinese, you've never heard of it at all. Yet, it's the largest network of tea festivals in the world and naturally, they're in China. China is a big country with a lot of people and is responsible for the production of the world's most cotton, the top two largest beer brands in the world (shockingly), and of course, the most tea in the world. It then shouldn't come as a surprise that they host the world's largest tea festivals, fairs, and exhibitions, most of [...]

Huajuchen: The Largest Tea Festivals in the World 2018-06-07T22:05:18+00:00

Into the Cloud Forest: Finding a New Specialty Tea Origin in Colombia

ARRIVAL Sitting on the plane, having made my way from Los Angeles to Miami and now to Santiago de Cali, Colombia, it occurred to me that I hadn’t actually met anyone who’d been to this place. I’ve known a few people that have traveled to Colombia, sure, but had I met anyone who’d been to a secluded, shrouded-in-clouds mountaintop tea estate? Not even Brian Keating, of tea consulting company Sage Group, had been there, and he helped organize the trip. I was an American meeting a contact in Colombia, who would take me into a tropical cloud forest to discuss the [...]

Into the Cloud Forest: Finding a New Specialty Tea Origin in Colombia 2018-06-10T11:05:04+00:00

The History of Tea in Colombia

This is an expanded section of a larger article detailing tea growing in Colombia and my travels there. You can read the full article here. The history of tea in Colombia is, in part, a history of the Llano family. 1960 - Té La Sophia At the beginning of the 1950s, the Colombian Department of Agriculture set out to stimulate their export economy, after a series of conflicts and economic downturns, with tea seeds bought from Sri Lanka (both sinensis and assamica). They originally planted these seeds in Cundinamarca department (around Sasaima) and Santander Department (north of Bogotá). It [...]

The History of Tea in Colombia 2018-06-07T21:59:08+00:00

Processing Methods in Colombia

This is an expanded section of a larger article detailing tea growing in Colombia and my travels there. You can read the full article here. In addition to owning their tea garden, Bitaco has built a brand new, state-of-the-art tea processing plant outfitted with equipment purchased from India and organized specifically for the purposes of making top quality tea. It's perhaps the most modern tea processing facility in the Americas. Below is an in-depth, detailed account of how they process their black and greens tea. They still processed some tea in their older Hindú facility, just down the road, but much of [...]

Processing Methods in Colombia 2018-06-07T21:56:20+00:00

Tea Tasting at Bitaco

This is an expanded section of a larger article detailing tea growing in Colombia and my travels there. You can read the full article here. At a conference table in Bitaco's processing facility, I sat down to do a full cupping of all of their teas. Mind you, I don't find myself in a subtropical cloud forest tea tasting very often, so I was eager to warm up my palate and taste what I had been experiencing this whole trip. They, on the other hand, have to do this every day to test batches they’ve just worked on, benchmarking quality as they [...]

Tea Tasting at Bitaco 2018-06-10T17:07:06+00:00

The Second Spirit of Tea Tour with Spirit Tea and Marco

Tea Geeks, the time has come again! For those of you who knew about it last time, our Chicago-based friends Spirit Tea and beverage systems company Marco partnered up for a roving tea tour across these United States. Well, they've decided it was fun enough to do again, only this time through Texas, North Carolina, and New York City! What does this tour entail? Each location is divided into two segments: A hands-on seminar diving into how to accurately dial-in your tea brewing skills, led by Spirit Tea co-founders Taylor Cowan and Jordan Scherer, and then a Matcha Latte Art Throwdown. Last time, Scherer told me [...]

The Second Spirit of Tea Tour with Spirit Tea and Marco 2018-05-15T08:40:31+00:00

The Official 2018 Tea Festival, Trade Show, and Conference Schedule

January January 20 – 21: Tea Festival India | Bangalore, INDIA January 27 – 28: Houston Tea Festival: Harry Teapotter and the Perfect Cuppa | Houston, Texas, USA February February 2 – 4: Toronto Tea Festival | Toronto, Ontario, CANADA February 9 – 11: Bologna Tea Festival | Bologna, ITALY February 18 – 20: Bangladesh Tea Expo | Dhaka, BANGLADESH February 22 – 23: UC Davis Global Tea Initiative 3rd Annual Symposium | Davis, California, USA March March 10 – 11: Coffee & Tea Festival NYC | New York City, New York, USA March 15 – 17: Russian Coffee & Tea Expo | Moscow, RUSSIA March 15 – 18: Thailand Coffee, Tea, & Drinks | Bangkok, THAILAND March [...]

The Official 2018 Tea Festival, Trade Show, and Conference Schedule 2018-07-21T10:56:12+00:00

2017 Year-End Tea Recap

2017 is coming to a close. We all expected great things for tea this year and I think it's safe to say that monumental things did indeed happen. Whether or not these were good things depends on whom you ask! We saw a lot of upheaval in the tea realm, perhaps more than any other year in recent memory. 2018 will undoubtedly bring a lot of challenges too, but we'll be here to meet them. See below for our tea recap of the most interesting, perplexing, and shocking things to happen in 2017! (But first, check out the predictions we got [...]

2017 Year-End Tea Recap 2018-05-15T08:40:31+00:00

2017 Tea Gear Guide

Yes, the end of the year is nigh and for those celebrating holidays (of any sort) it's the time to buy gifts. Whether you're the illustrious tea aficionado of your family or someone who just mentions in passing how much they love tea, chances are you've received some lackluster or altogether terrible tea gadgets. Hey, it happens to the best of us! This is an attempt to remedy such poor tea gift giving. What better time to get a good friend or significant other into the grand world of tea with a well-suited gift? Similarly, what better way to get something [...]

2017 Tea Gear Guide 2018-05-15T08:40:31+00:00

A Day on the Road with the Spirit of Tea Tour

The Spirit of Tea Tour officially began this last Thursday, September 28. Unceremoniously, but with excitement and vigor, Spirit Tea conducted their Tea Dialing-In Workshop and later hosted a Matcha Latte Art Throwdown. I attended both and can gladly report that at least someone is talking about tea properly. Workshop I arrived at Steelhead Coffee in Long Beach, California that Thursday afternoon and was greeted by Taylor Cowan and Jordan Scherer, co-founders of Spirit Tea. These guys are huggers, so after a warm few affectionate squeezes, we jumped into talking about the teas they were going to test out that day. [...]

A Day on the Road with the Spirit of Tea Tour 2018-05-15T08:40:31+00:00

Meet the World’s Only Triple-Threat Tea Company

There I was, attending a swank cocktail party hosted by Brew Dr. Kombucha in West Hollywood on a hot July day, sipping on a “Marty Robbins” cocktail, talking to Marty Wall about the tea industry, kombucha, and spirits. The “Marty Robbins” is made with mint, lemon, Mint Lemonade Kombucha, and Tea Spirit No. 2 and is deliciously sweet. Marty Wall is a seven-foot tall, spectacled man who’s the Executive VP of Business Development for Brew Dr. Kombucha, and happens to also be sweet. Marty and I chat about the tea and coffee industry and commiserate at how difficult burgeoning products and [...]

Meet the World’s Only Triple-Threat Tea Company 2018-05-15T08:40:31+00:00

The Spirit of Tea Tour by Spirit Tea & Marco

Tea Geeks, heads up! Coffee lovers seem to get special events every week. Festivals, tastings, competitions… Now we have a tea event especially devoted to the tea geek within: Spirit Tea and Marco’s upcoming series of events across the Nation, The Spirit of Tea Tour. Chicago-based Spirit Tea is teaming up with the beverage tech company Marco and traveling West through Los Angeles, Denver, Portland, and Seattle to engage the community with an educational tea workshop and pose a dare with a Matcha Latte Art Throwdown. The first part of the Spirit of Tea Tour will be a hands-on seminar diving into how to accurately dial-in [...]

The Spirit of Tea Tour by Spirit Tea & Marco 2018-05-15T08:40:31+00:00

Darjeeling and the Rise of Gorkhaland

Darjeeling has officially shut down for business. Tea production has ground to a complete halt. The Darjeeling tea industry is set to lose 20% of their annual production and 40% of their annual profit, on the order of $50 million (3.4 billion Indian Rupees). Even if plucking was to resume right now, which is incredibly unlikely, the loss could not be recovered. The ongoing drama of the situation has led many to wonder: What is happening? And what does it mean for tea in Darjeeling? We’ve done our best to brief you on what’s happening, why it’s happening, and what that [...]

Darjeeling and the Rise of Gorkhaland 2018-05-15T08:40:31+00:00

Where Tea is Grown in the United States and Canada

Is tea grown in the United States? It sure is! Although we still have a way to go, American grown tea is a warm community and growing industry. From the rich volcanic soil of Hawai'i where the bulk of the farms reside to the rich and humid subtropical climate of the American Southeast to as far North as the Canadian border in the Pacific Northwest, tea farms have continued popping up all around the country. Now inhabiting 17 states, and with a single farm in Canada, we've put together a run-down of every tea farm we've been able to find so far. As [...]

Where Tea is Grown in the United States and Canada 2018-05-15T08:40:32+00:00

Pursuing the Moon and Good Tea: A Conversation with Nihoncha Instructor Tyas Sōsen

I was able to chat with Huybrechts Tangetsu-an Tyas Sōsen, also simply known as Tyas Sōsen, the first Belgian and youngest foreigner to become a certified Nihoncha Instructor (Japanese Tea Instructor). He currently lives and works in Japan, directly sourcing naturally-grown rustic Japanese tea for his online store, The Tea Crane, and performing the traditional Japanese Tea Ceremony (sadō, chanoyu, or chadō) at the Kyoto-based school, Kyūgetsu. He told me about his experience moving to Japan, studying for the Nihoncha certification, his sourcing philosophy and practices, and what it's like to perform the tea ceremony as a foreigner. What was your [...]

Pursuing the Moon and Good Tea: A Conversation with Nihoncha Instructor Tyas Sōsen 2018-05-15T08:40:32+00:00

The Tea Genome Revealed

For decades, the DNA encoded within the tea plant has remained a mystery. Now, the tea genome has finally been sequenced. Tea (Camellia sinensis) can don the DNA-decoded laurels along with dozens of the world’s most important crops, including two other distantly related caffeine-bearing cousins: coffee (Coffea arabica), sequenced in 2014, and cacao (Theobroma cacao), sequenced in 2010. The scientific paper which revealed this information, published May 1, 2017, is officially titled: The Tea Tree Genome Provides Insights into Tea Flavor and Independent Evolution of Caffeine Biosynthesis, Xia et al., Molecular Plant (2017) and you can read the whole paper here: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.molp.2017.04.002 [...]

The Tea Genome Revealed 2018-05-15T08:40:32+00:00

Microwaving Your Tea, The Controversy Explained and Refuted

The internet has been ablaze with a particularly nefarious news story typically titled something like, “You’ve Been Making Your Tea All Wrong!”. Are you sick of hearing this? Yeah, so are we. And not only because there’s no “right way” to make tea. I’m currently calling this topic the Microwaving Tea Controversy. The articles about this are usually titled something like, “Expert Claims Microwaving Tea Is Best!”, or “Microwave Makes the Best Tea Says Science”. The Microwaving Tea Controversy has excited dozens of news networks because it’s the perfect maelstrom of click-baiting buzzwords, science, consumer errors, lifehacks, outrage, a popular television [...]

Microwaving Your Tea, The Controversy Explained and Refuted 2018-05-15T08:40:32+00:00

Tea at 10 of the World’s Best Restaurants

On April 5, the annual and much lauded World's 50 Best Restaurants list was released. Decided by an Academy of around 1,500 members, made up of chefs, food critics, restaurateurs, and more, the list serves as a manual for famous food names and places. Although controversial for its general lack of female chefs, Euro-centrism, etc., the list offers a glimpse into what might be considered the most cutting-edge, most refined, and most interesting dining to be had anywhere in the world in 2017. But... and this is a big but... What tea do they serve? If these restaurants are supposedly the "best", then surely their [...]

Tea at 10 of the World’s Best Restaurants 2018-05-15T08:40:32+00:00

“Tea Master” No Longer an Accredited Job in China

As reported on their official website last December, the Chinese government has voted to abolish 114 state-certified professions from its registry of nearly 1,800. These newly un-permitted jobs include vocations such as "power equipment assembler", "refrigerator custodian", "reflective therapist", and sadly among them, "tea master". There are problems inherent in calling anyone a "master" of anything, especially with something as broad and infinitely-faceted as tea. My complaint, detailed painstakingly in the epically long article on Tea Sommeliers, is that there is no unification or standardization in tea education and as such, certification does very little to help the certified. It seems the [...]

“Tea Master” No Longer an Accredited Job in China 2018-05-15T08:40:32+00:00

The 2017 Dutch Tea Champion Is…

The 2017 Dutch Tea Championship has concluded. As detailed in my last post, 14 contestants entered the preliminary rounds which included a submission video, written test, live tea preparation, and 20 blind tastings. After, there were four contestants left to compete in the finals. These finalists faced off on March 12 for the final prize. Their competitive rounds consisted of 17 more blind tastings, including a blind preparation, and a live tea presentation to be paired with a gourmet dish created by Jan Smink, one of the judges and the head chef of De Librije, a gourmet hotel and restaurant. Needless to say, this [...]

The 2017 Dutch Tea Champion Is… 2018-05-15T08:40:32+00:00

Nitro Matcha in a Can, Another First

Newly arrived is another first in the ready-to-drink tea beverage market: Canned Nitro Matcha. In keeping with tea experts' predictions for 2017, kegged tea, and specifically, nitrogenated tea, is already becoming big business. You can now find nitrogenated teas at cafes in every major city in America, a concept that would have been unthinkable just three years ago. Yet here we are, and the process of kegging and tapping drinks with a nitrogen tank has led innovators to experiment with canned versions. After all, how does one enjoy the silky smooth mouthfeel of a nitrogenated tea or coffee outside of a third-wave coffee [...]

Nitro Matcha in a Can, Another First 2018-05-15T08:40:32+00:00

HEI: The Modernist’s Clay Teapot

Recently funded on both Kickstarter and IndieGogo (for $50,000) upstart design company Defront has designed and built a teapot for the 21st Century modernist, and they call it HEI. Defront presents themselves as "a design brand established by designers, inventors, technologists, and social workers working across Eastern and Western culture." Their HEI teapot is the distillation of this mantra. A sleek design houses a built-in thermometer/lid with a magnetically attached stainless steel micro-infuser that has notches designed to help you measure out different teas. Despite this modern touch, the teapot and cup are molded from Yixing clay (or zisha), the hyper traditional Chinese [...]

HEI: The Modernist’s Clay Teapot 2018-05-15T08:40:32+00:00

The 2017 Dutch Tea Championship, An Introduction

I’m new to the world of Tea Competitions. Conceptually, I wasn’t even sure how one would work, but I knew that there were many out there to chose from, in multiple countries. When I started talking to my tea folks about them, it was suggested that a fun place to start (and one not previously covered on World of Tea) was the Dutch Tea Championship, a competition run by the International Tea & Coffee Academy in the Netherlands. And it begins in just over a week. Started in 2015, it’s a fairly new event that grew out of smaller events the [...]

The 2017 Dutch Tea Championship, An Introduction 2018-05-15T08:40:32+00:00

The Teapot Artisans of Instagram

Since the beginning of tea culture, there has been the teapot. In fact, many would argue you can't have one without the other. This vessel, into which you add the basic elements of tea and water, supports a beautiful illusion that the tea which issues from the spout could not have been created without the teapot. Likely adapted from traditional ceramic rice wine pots, teapots are intrinsic to Asian culture. The Japanese 茶碗, or 'chawan', literally means teacup, but it's so ubiquitous that it can simply refer to any cup or small bowl. Artisans, potters, and ceramicists continue to craft and tweak [...]

The Teapot Artisans of Instagram 2018-05-15T08:40:32+00:00

Darjeeling Tea is in Trouble

Darjeeling... the picturesque mountainside tea growing region of India, home to 87 or so tea estates, known the world over for their quality high-altitude teas, faces a multitude of compounding problems that pose a serious threat to the region's tea industry. Darjeeling has been in the clutches of a drought since 2012. Each year, the workers and farmers of the region hold their breath to see whether the mist will come and the rain will fall. Each year, this looks increasingly unlikely. The rain comes very sporadically and if it comes at all, it tends to downpour, causing floods and eroding away [...]

Darjeeling Tea is in Trouble 2018-05-15T08:40:32+00:00

MatchaBar Opens New Location in Los Angeles

MatchaBar, New York City's matcha-exclusive tea bar/shop opened their newest location in Los Angeles this weekend.  Run by the Fortgang Brothers, Max & Graham, MatchaBar began as a caffeine-addiction turned reality. After falling in love with matcha, they began sourcing their product directly from a single family farm in Nishio, Japan. In 2014, they opened their first MatchaBar in Brooklyn and expanded to Manhattan in 2015. Shortly after, they created their own line of bottled matcha, available at markets in the greater New York area.  MatchaBar's first West Coast location boasts white brick and tile, outdoor patio seating, and new warm-weather friendly signature [...]

MatchaBar Opens New Location in Los Angeles 2018-05-15T08:40:33+00:00

Tea Spot Rebrands as Wēi Lóng Dòng Tea House in Austin

So Han Fan, owner of West China Tea Company, has expanded and rebranded his former teahouse Tea Spot along with partner Chris Caballero as Wēi Lóng Dòng Tea House. With the help of smTEAx and crowd-sourcing through IndieGogo, they were able to take a concept housed within Austin's food and beverage collective, the Spider House Cafe, and turn it into a physical location. [Wēi Lóng Dòng Tea House], which translates into “lofty dragon cave” in Mandarin, emphasizes Chinese teas and tea ceremonies. Fan firmly believes that tea brings communities together, which is the goal of the cafe. On deck are over 130 teas all [...]

Tea Spot Rebrands as Wēi Lóng Dòng Tea House in Austin 2018-05-15T08:40:33+00:00

High Mountain Tea Opens Brick & Mortar in Toronto

High Mountain Tea, a brand-new online tea company, opened their first physical retail location in Toronto yesterday. Specializing in what looks to be primarily Taiwanese oolong and black teas, with a few additional Chinese imports, they claim to travel to both countries to source. Additionally, they have a simple and elegant line of teaware for sale. These include clay gong fu sets, porcelain tasting cups, and ceramic kyusu pots.  Founder Conor Murphy grew a passion for tea after having a transformative Puer tasting with his cousin, who happens to run Living Tea, an online tea business specializing in Puer that does [...]

High Mountain Tea Opens Brick & Mortar in Toronto 2018-05-15T08:40:33+00:00

Kollo: The First Luxury Bottled Iced Tea

On a warm December day in Los Angeles, I sat down with Nicole Dean, the iced tea entrepreneur. She carried a sleek white triangular bag with black lace handles and a simple wire-thin letter “K” etched on the outside. The bag seemed more in line with products from Tiffany’s than from Twinings. Perfectly spaced in the three corners of the bag were three tall, sleek glass bottles of iced tea. Dean pulled them out and placed them on the table in a row. The bottle was adorned with a few sentences describing the tea, above which stood the same wire-thin letter [...]

Kollo: The First Luxury Bottled Iced Tea 2018-05-15T08:40:33+00:00

Is Chinese Tea Safe from Pollution?

China produces the most tea on Earth. It's also one of the most polluted countries on Earth. Yet, in my humble opinion and that of many other tea connoisseurs, specialty Chinese tea is some of the best. What you’re probably wondering is this: Are Chinese teas safe from pollution? Like the Chinese tea industry itself, the answer is multi-faceted and can be difficult to sort through, especially in a shorter article, but I’ll try my best to sum up the factors involved and what you need to consider when buying Chinese tea. Issue #1 The first cause for concern, the one most of you are [...]

Is Chinese Tea Safe from Pollution? 2018-05-15T08:40:33+00:00

Is Japanese Tea Safe from Radiation?

Five and half years after the Tohoku earthquake and subsequent meltdown of the Fukushima Daiichi Power Plant in Japan, a question still lingers for some tea enthusiasts: Is Japanese tea safe to drink? The short answer? Yes. The longer answer? Resoundingly, yes! And the reason why is multi-faceted. Firstly, by “safe to drink”, the layman might think this means, “the tea is absent from radioactive particles”. While this may be true for many producers, this interpretation isn’t entirely accurate, for reasons that will soon become apparent. Why shouldn’t you be worried? Thankfully, radiation doesn’t travel far unless carried by a radioactive [...]

Is Japanese Tea Safe from Radiation? 2018-05-15T08:40:33+00:00

The Problem With Tea Sommeliers

What is a tea sommelier? When I ask this, people generally describe someone who pairs tea with food and prepares tea at a restaurant. This is, after all, what most people believe the job of a wine sommelier is and they wouldn’t be wrong, although this is only one branch on their tree. I decided to investigate this, since for years I’ve been bothered by the term ‘tea sommelier’ and by the general misalignment with true sommeliers. After months of research, I’ve learned that tea sommeliers can spend large amounts of money to be certified, are trained in unstandardized ways with [...]

The Problem With Tea Sommeliers 2018-05-15T08:40:33+00:00

Five Years in Tea: A Retrospective

After working for American Tea Room for 5 1/2 years, I’ve decided to move forward with my career. Although I began my career more familiar than some with the world of tea, since the middle of 2010 I began an obsession, first working as a sales associate for American Tea Room, right smack in the middle of Beverly Hills’ Golden Triangle. After a few years, I worked my way up to Store Manager and became intimately involved with the operation of the brand, eventually assuming the role of Beverage Director, officially, and unofficially as Training Director for all employees. I designed [...]

Five Years in Tea: A Retrospective 2018-05-15T08:40:35+00:00

Tea 4:20 Edition: Smoking Tea

Smoking tea. There has been some information circulating the internet about a growing trend of smoking tea from tea-bags. Chances are someone has mentioned this to you at some point, or talked about smoking other herbs and spices in your kitchen (especially if you’ve ever been a teenager). After all, clove cigarettes are a thing right? Doing a quick search will show you that there is a bit of information online about the healthful effects of smoking tea leaves. I do not condone this, I would not try this if I were you, I’m not telling you to try this — smoking anything is harmful to your health. But… [...]

Tea 4:20 Edition: Smoking Tea 2018-05-15T08:40:51+00:00