Loose Leaf Hot Tea Judges

Lydia Kung Ph.D. | Owner, VeriLeaf Fine Teas.
An avowed foodie who thinks teas get short shrift even as culinary expectations rise in our craft-fixated food culture, Lydia is delighted to play the role of tea advocate. Surely, some of the attention to growing regions and techniques in food, wine, and coffee can be transferred to a more judicious appreciation of fine teas. As an importer, Lydia has occasion to sample teas daily, ranging from low-end, high-volume products to captivating teas that virtually demand sipping again and again. She especially enjoys any occasion to taste with a group, since shared comments help build a tea lexicon and give articulation to nuances. Although no longer working in ethnography, all that this subject encompasses remains a passion, and tea falls easily into this field. Despite its long tradition, tea continually turns up new finds and surprises. Tea can still confound, and Lydia considers this as one of tea's greatest pleasures.Spring Judge Fall Judge

Jhanne Jasmine
Jhanne Jasmine has been part of the tea industry for over 20 years since co-founding TeaZone in Portland, Oregon in 1999. A ground breaking business, TeaZone featured over 120 premier loose leaf teas from around the world plus introduced Portland’s first tea lattes, bubble teas and tea fruit smoothies. A business expansion in 2006 resulted in the successful launching of Camellia Lounge, the first tea cocktail lounge in the U.S. serving over 45 unique cocktails made from spirits that were infused with tea and featured live Jazz nightly. The business sold in 2014, and since then she has been working for Stash Tea Company. Her role includes daily evaluations of teas, botanicals and selecting loose leaf teas. She also serves as the company’s primary Research & Development Specialist, Tea Program Educator and provides tea and botanical expertise to the marketing team.

Recently, she served as a speaker on a panel for the newly created Foodservice and Hospitality track at World Tea Expo. She is a member of the Tea Education Advisory Committee for Hospitality (TEACH) which was created with the goal to elevate the standing of finer, specialty teas within the culinary and beverage sectors, and increase the quality standards of teas being served in restaurants and hospitality channels.Spring Judge

Danielle Hochstetter
Danielle Hochstetter has been studying tea or working in tea for over 10 years, She lived in China for 6 years, studying Mandarin, tea, and graduating from the Tea Science department at Zhejiang University. During her studies, she ran a tea tourism business showing people around the tea fields, museums, and best tea shops in Hangzhou. She returned from China in 2014, working for Eliot Jordan at Peet’s Coffee and Tea and at Mighty Leaf Tea. She was the Director of Tea at Teforia. She is currently a board member on the American Specialty Tea Alliance (ASTA.)Spring Judge