Tuesday, June 28, 2016

World Tea Expo 2016 - The People

One of my favorite parts of World Tea Expo is the people. Most of the folks in attendance live far afield so I only get to see them this one time of year. It's also a rare to chance to rub elbows with some of the folks that I look up to in the industry. The North American tea industry would not be what it is today if it had not been for the groundwork that they laid down before most of us were sipping.

Hanging out with my fellow tea bloggers is always something that I look forward to. These are some of my favorite people and I often find my face is sore from laughing so much. My famously funny fiancé joined me as my speaker's guest so I think that effect was amplified. Somehow I neglected to get a picture of the Tea Bloggers Round Table but this year's gathering was excellent. Thankfully Effie of International Tea Review was kind enough to lend me hers.

Tea Blogger Round Table - photo courtesy of Effie Gidakos, International Tea Review
We welcomed +Ricardo Caicedo and +sara shacket to the panel for the first time. They both added some excellent points to the conversation and it was really nice to get some new perspectives. The remainder of the panel consisted of +Geoffrey Norman+Naomi Rosen+Rachana Rachel Carter+Linda Gaylard and I. +Darlene Meyers Perry did a great job moderating and our coordinator +Jo J's emotional introduction brought a tear to my eye. There's a reason that several of us have dubbed her tea mom!

There's no one else that I'd rather share a matcha donut breakfast with!
Rajiv Lochan of Lochan Tea/ITCC
Rajiv Lochan is one of my favorite tea producers. Not only does he make incredible tea but he is hilarious and extremely knowledgeable. I was at the ITCC booth waiting to interview Dan Robertson for an article. Rajiv entertained me with tales of eating tea leaves like a cow and somehow harangued me into signing up for ITCC (International Tea Cuppers Club) in the process. I'm not sure how that happened but I'm looking forward to joining in on their activities in the future.

I was determined to get books signed by some of my favorite authors because I wasn't able to do so in years past. It was difficult lugging a stack of books across the country but I think it's safe to say, mission accomplished!

James Norwood Pratt
James Norwood Pratt is probably the person that I look forward to seeing the most each year. I could listen to him pontificate about tea for hours. His book, The New Tea Lover's Treasury, was an integral part of my beginning journey with tea. Although it was the out of print version, I carefully carried my beloved copy to have it signed. Norwood insisted on gifting me an updated copy, The Ultimate Tea Lover's Treasury, and then signed both of them for me. How lucky am I! He posed for a picture but later that evening I was dismayed to discover that the picture wasn't saved to my camera. Thankfully he was gracious enough to do a retake the next day.

Bruce Richardson
Bruce Richardson of Elmwood Inn Fine Teas is another person in the industry that I look up to a lot. I carried my copy of The New Tea Companion to have it signed up somehow managed to forget it in my hotel room. I didn't want to risk missing him altogether so I picked up another book that I didn't already have, A Social History of Tea. There's lots of summer tea reading in my future!

I made more new friends this year than I could possibly list. As a general rule, tea folks are pretty awesome so that wasn't much of a surprise. Everyone was incredibly friendly and supportive, especially after I gave my social media seminar. People stopped me all over the show floor to offer encouraging feedback.

Sometimes I get the idea in my head that I won't attend next year's expo but then I realize how sad I would be to miss out on all of this. It might be hard to swing with the wedding planning but we'll find a way to make it happen.

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