Hot Tea Judges

September Competition Judges:

  • Richard Enticott
  • Lydia Kung
  • Rob McCaleb

Richard Enticott |
Richard has worked in the tea industry for over 25 years. After a 5 year apprenticeship as a trainee tea taster with Tetley in England tasting thousands of teas each week, Richard held senior roles in buying and blending covering all major tea producing Origins. In 1999 he joined Finlays USA in New Jersey as Director of Tea Trading selling bulk tea and decaffeinated tea to national brands and private label packing companies throughout North America. Thereafter, he joined Martin Bauer Inc. in 2003 as President & CEO (N.A.) with responsibility for a portfolio of ingredients covering tea, herbs, botanical powders and extracts for the dietary supplement industry. In 2015 Richard relocated his family to Boulder Colorado and is presently owner of Meridian Trading Company, providing botanical ingredients to clients worldwide.

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.

Rob McCaleb | The Herb Research Foundation
Rob McCaleb is the founder and president of the Herb Research Foundation, a researcher, writer and educator and a leading proponent of natural health care with botanical and nutritional products. He was Research Director at Celestial Seasonings for 13 years, building their analytical lab and quality programs, including the first-ever professional flavor profiling and control program for herbal products. He helped develop many of their herbal tea products, built their botanical research library, and conducted global quality troubleshooting of the herbal supply chain. Currently, he works with companies to assist them in formulating, labeling and marketing natural and organic foods, especially tea products, dietary supplements, and functional foods.

Educated in Cellular Biology and Botany at the University of Texas and University of Colorado, he was a Ph.D. candidate in Ethnobotany (ABD) at Union Institute. He is the author of The Encyclopedia of Popular Herbs, Best Herbs for Healing and was co-founder and technical editor of HerbalGram. McCaleb headed the Technical Committee of the American Herbal Products Association and was one of only two botanical scientists on the presidentially-appointed Commission on Dietary Supplement Labels created under the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act (DSHEA), which studied the global regulation of natural health products. McCaleb has worked for over 30 years in sustainable herb growing and harvesting operations and marketing ventures.

March Competition Judges:

  • Scott Svihula
  • Suzette Hammond
  • Aaron Vick

Scott Svihula

Scott Svihula has carved out a niche as an expert in the specialty coffee & tea industry. His discerning palate has garnered him many industry awards and achievements. He further fortifies his multi-faceted skill set encompassing strategic planning, product development, operations, marketing, quality assurance, regulatory compliance, training, sales & production management. He brings exceptional business acumen focused on enhancing sales & revenue growth within regional and nationally leading brands supported by impactful advertising, continuous research, & a talent for identifying and capitalizing on emerging industry trends. In 2016 Scott started his own tea & coffee-consulting business, Hula Consulting, to offer a unique one-stop service approach offering everything a company needs to grow, whether they are a startup or have been in business for decades. His customized consulting approach allows companies to capitalize on his skills and knowledge to target specific growth areas.

Suzette Hammond

"The art of teaching and training tea – for a living and for life." This is the work of Being Tea, founded by Suzette Hammond. For 15 years, Suzette has traveled extensively as a professional working tea trainer. Her often quirky projects include everything from beautiful days in tea fields to origin research, to analytical tasting and tea geekery with mechanical engineers. Along the way, she realized her clear passion is shepherding connections through tea. So, after more than a decade in training management roles for leading tea companies, Suzette created Being Tea – an independent consultancy offering Sensory Skills Workshops, Teacher Training, and Tea Mindfulness Therapy. Never happy with desk life, Suzette's background is a colorful blend of disciplines. She is a trained journalist and has experience in specialty coffee. She is a student of several tea ceremony traditions, an advocate of tea therapy for mental health, and studies Alexander Technique, MBSR, restorative yoga and somatic therapies. Currently, she also collaborates with the World Tea Academy, World Tea Expo, and Tea Journey Magazine. She judges for the Global Tea Championship and teaches every October at the Northwest Tea Festival. A veteran of cross-country moving, Suzette gratefully calls Chicago home.

Aaron Vick

Aaron Vick fell out of professional cooking and into the world of tea when he had his first tea cupping lead by a professional trainer at Peet's Coffee & Tea in 1997 in Berkeley, California.  Inspired by that experience he spent ten years with Peet's as a staff educator, sharing the knowledge that inspired him and learning from some of the most experienced people in the industry.  That community of tea people led him to The G.S. Haly Company where, as the senior tea buyer, Aaron is immersed in the daily discipline of cupping offers from the great specialty tea origins of the world and bringing them to the North American Market.