HANFORD — The L.T. Sue Company left the 2014 Fresno Food Expo a winner last week.
The company’s new tea line San Joaquin Valley Tea tied for the New Product Buyer's Choice Award. The Fresno Food Expo is held every year for area businesses to introduce their products to buyers in the retail and food service industries.
“It’s really exciting,” said co-owner Arianne Wing, “[Co-owner] Steve [Banister] and I are on the top of the world. We’re grateful for all of the support we’ve received.”
L.T. Sue bested other popular Kings County businesses including Rosa Brothers and Farmer’s Fury Winery for the trophy. they tied with Fresno's Casa De Tamale’s new pepperoni tamale and chicken and bacon tamale for the New Product Buyer’s Choice Award.
For the award, a celebrity judge panel evaluated the products based on creativity, presentation, packaging and marketability.
This was the first year the company entered the the expo. Although Wing and Banister have attended the expo in previous years, they didn’t have new products lined up to feature at the expo.
“This was the first time we were exhibitors,” Wing said. “We like attending because it’s interesting seeing all of the local companies and products that are available. It’s like being part of a big family. There is a lot of camaraderie.”
L.T. Sue Co.’s new tea line is made up of five teas created from locally-grown ingredients:
• Westside — This premium white has notes of toasted pistachios and sweet blueberries.
• Fig Garden — Black tea mingled with black mission figs.
• Blossom Trail — Peach tea with apricots, almonds and flowers.
• Garden of the Sun — Citrusy green tea mixed with luscious, plump golden raisins and marigold flowers.
• Chandler Grove — Black tea with toasted walnuts and plump raisins.
Twenty percent of sales at the L.T. Sue Tea Room go toward maintaining and preserving China Alley.
Wing said getting the award was a surprise, as she wasn’t expecting them to win the first time they entered the competition.
“It was almost overwhelming,” she said. “We’re so honored and thankful to win. Everything was aligned perfectly and the spirits of China Alley were rooting for us.”
Wing said getting the award also drew the attention of several businesses. She said they’re currently working out a deal with Erna’s Elderberry House in Oakhurst to create and sell an elderberry-themed tea product at the restaurant.
The business is also planning to partner with Whole Foods, which would carry the new tea line at the Fresno market.
“I’m very happy that the award will expand our market,” she said. “We work very hard on our product.”
Wing said she hopes the business will have another new product that they can feature at next year’s expo.
“We’re always working on something down here,” she said. “I look forward to an exciting year.”