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    From the Show Floor: In Good Taste

    Flavors come first at the World Tea Expo/Healthy Beverage Expo

    There are plenty of scrumptious samples available at the World Tea Expo and the Healthy Beverage Expo, co-located at the Las Vegas Convention Center, June 7-9. Among the notable quaffs:

    Tea of a Kind: Featuring a patented closure and delivery system – an innovative, pressurized bottle cap design that infuses a drink with fresh, preservative-free ingredients when twisted open -- Gizmo Beverages’ all-natural, lightly sweetened product line includes Peach Ginger Black Tea, which bursts with bright, fresh flavor, since the real brewed tea in the cap is protected from ultraviolet light, oxidation and other damaging conditions that degrade nutrients in many pre-mixed beverages.

    Teas Etc.: At the expo’s Refresh Tent, where attendees can enjoy an array of beverages at their leisure, the company served up a variety of brews, among them the smooth, well-balanced Hazelnut Vanilla Oolong, and Earl Grey Green with its perfumed bouquet, perhaps because of the inclusion of cornflower. At the company’s booth on the show floor, the aptly named blend Chocolate-covered Strawberry provided decadence in a cup.

    Ito-En: The company’s Teas’ Tea brand’s new lightly sweetened lattes – one made with matcha (stone-ground green tea powder), the other with black – in PET bottles, rather than the usual glass, were refreshingly creamy,  while a half-and-half product consisting of green tea and Acerola cherries was sweet but not overwhelming.

    Wild Mountain Tea Co.: This unsweetened, diabetic-friendly iced tea line, made with honeybush hand-harvested from the mountains and valleys of South Africa’s southern Cape, serves up an all-natural, antioxidant-rich treat that fulfills the company’s slogan, “Sweet by Nature.”

    LIVE Soda: Named in honor of its hometown of Austin, Texas, live music capital of the world, LIVE Soda features 99 percent raw kombucha – more than most comparable items -- and three times more probiotics than the leading kombucha brand, according to Marketing Director Alicia Ward, who proffered the product line’s top seller, Revive Rootbeer, an authentic-tasting trip down Memory Lane, complete with spicy finish. The line is crafted by a brewmaster who formulates time-honored soda varieties using raw, organic and Fair Trade ingredients.

    Deebee's Tea Pops: Created by medical scientist Dionne Laslo-Baker and her doctor husband, Tea Pops, a Best New Product winner at this year's World Tea Expo, are a low-sugar, nut-free, organic, gluten-free, kosher and vegan option for beating the heat. The Classic Ice Tea "teasicle," one of five in the product line, hit the spot a not-too-sweet but satisfying pick-me-up  between meals. Based in Canada, the brand is currently distributed to Whole Foods stores in that country, and is anticipating availability in the United States soon.

    Choice Wellness Teas: After a year in development in collaboration with Bastyr University, a natural health arts and sciences university with campuses in Kenmore, Wash., and San Diego, Choice, a brand of Grannum Inc., in Seattle, introduced a certified-organic  line addressing various common physical states. Varieties include Easy Digest, Simply Detox, Energy Boost, Mental Focus and Breathing Space, the last of which imparted its intended peace of mind along with an engagingly minty flavor.

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