The 2017 Coffee and Tea Festival was recently held at the Brooklyn Expo Center. This years roster brought out a great mix of sellers from all corners of the coffee and tea market. The trends at this years festivities included cold brew on tap, turmeric and sustainability. New techniques were also front and center, with many companies finding new ways to extract the best flavor from their leaves and beans. Honey was also well represented, sampling everything from The Olive Tables's Greek honey from the forests of Peloponnese to Washington State buckwheat honey from Bee Raw. There were a few new additions to the festival this year like Trill Tea, Wise Ape Tea and Red Beard Coffee to name a few. I've learned over the years that the best way to enjoy the festival is to take it slow, sample and ask questions. Find out what makes the company unique and if you really like something I recommend buying it at the festival. Most of the time the prices are lower and you won't pay shipping if they only sell online. After two hours of tasting and smelling dozens of teas, coffees, confections and more here is my round up of just some of the best I found in no particular order.
1. Taste Artisanal Market: Ginger Turmeric Honey
As a lover of turmeric and ginger this honey hits all the right notes. The flavor is a combination of spicy, sweet and bitter. A profile that works with a variety of foods. It might not seem it but this honey has versatility. I use it drizzled on chicken, yogurt, oatmeal, pancakes and even my favorite pizza bianca. It also makes a great accouterment to charcuterie or a cheese board. The ginger turmeric honey starts with raw wildflower honey and is infused with organic ginger and turmeric. All of their honeys are made in small batches ensuring quality as well as taste. In addition to their ginger turmeric honey I'm also a huge fan of their Calabrian Chile honey and their slightly floral lavender honey.
2. Tahana Confections: Earl Grey and Espresso Caramels
This years gift bag included these sweet little caramels in two flavors. The buttery rich texture of these caramels have a wonderful mouth feel. They don't stick to your teeth but melt in your mouth. The earl grey caramel was balanced in both taste and smell. The tea enhanced the flavor without being to overpowering. The tea they use is from from White Heron Coffee and Tea in Portsmouth, NH. The espresso has a nice subtle coffee flavor. It compliments the vanilla flavor of the caramel itself. The best way to describe Tahana is caramels taken to the next level. Tahana is perfect for treating yourself to a little bit of luxury at an affordable price. A 1/4 pound bag starts at $7.99 and is available in a variety of flavors. In addition to the espresso and earl grey they also make coconut, vanilla and salted to name a few.
3. Red Beard Coffee: Java Mocha
Hard to find but worth mentioning is Red Beard Coffee's java mocha. A medium blend that was perfect hot or cold. There is no chocolate in the coffee but there are subtle notes of chocolate from the coffee beans they use to create the blend. You can find RedBeard at a few farmers markets. They were one of the newbies at this years festival. John Prada the owner was very gracious and took the time to answer my questions and help me pick the perfect coffee. You can find their coffee at Flag Beverage in Lindenhurst, NY. It's available on tap for 32oz growler fills or by the cup.
4. T Salon: Balance Herbal Tea
This wellness tea is a combination of chamomile, peppermint, blackberry leaves, cinnamon bark, ginger pieces, rose petals, licorice root, and marigold flower petals. T Salon was established in 1992 and has made it their mission to produce tea in a responsible and sustainable way. They also use their company to support charities like breast cancer and heart health. The flavor of their balance herbal tea blend is delicate. It has enough spice to leave an impression but it doesn't overwhelm with spicy notes. I've enjoyed this tea best in the morning before I start my day.
5. Teeccino's: Dandelion Coconut Tea
Dandelion coconut tea is technically a tisane not a tea. Some of the organic ingredients include roasted carob, chicory, dandelion root, dates, almonds and coconut. It's caffeine and gluten free. The mix of nuts, herbs and dried fruit add up to one perfect cup of sweet satisfaction. From the first sip the flavor is clean with wonderful notes of sweet coconut and orange mixed with just the slightest bitterness from the dandelions. They offer a variety of flavors including turmeric ginger (another favorite), red chai and caramel nut along with a full line of coffee alternatives. If you have a chance make sure to check out their website where they offer dozens of recipes from cookies to cocktails using their products.