This is part two of my coverage of this year’s World Tea Expo. If you missed part one, you can check it out here. World Tea Expo is B2B trade show so it is not open to the public. I was lucky to attend as a member of the press.
Sara’s Tea Caddie
There always seems to be one or two booths that all of the bloggers gravitate to. This year that was definitely Sara’s Tea Caddie. I’ve had the good fortune of sampling her teas many times over the years since she is an NYC local. Judging the Tea Master’s Cup left me overcaffeinated most days so I couldn’t taste everything on offer. It was still fun to live vicariously through everyone else. The white leaf Kiraka sencha was the hit of the show.
Ichigo Trading and Travel Co.
Another Japanese tea finds for me was Ichigo Trading and Travel Co. They are an official distributor and partner of Ikkyu Tea in Fukuoka. I was already familiar with their teas but was happy to get to try a few that I had not tasted before. Gerry’s enthusiasm for the teas and the farmers he has met in Japan was absolutely contagious.
My friends at Tealet always bring something interesting to the table. Geoff from Steep Stories and I were treated to some very delicious Nepalese teas. They have special relationships with their growers so I always look forward to hearing their stories from the field. Tealet was also grinding and whisking fresh matcha on the show floor. I totally missed tasting that this year. Tealet got my matcha-hating husband to actually enjoy matcha a few years ago because they flash chilled it with apple juice!
Glenburn Fine Tea
I always look forward to seeing the folks at Glenburn Fine Tea. They had a really beautiful frame with pressed tea leaves that showed the differences between Camellia Sinensis var. Sinensis. They should seriously consider selling those because I would definitely buy one. I sampled a very unique oolong from Assam that was quite unlike anything else I had tried from that area. Keep your eyes peeled for an upcoming interview with Shalini Agarwal!
Bitaco – Unique Colombian Tea
By now I think you all know that I am a big fan of the teas made in Colombia by Bitaco. They had a large booth this year. I did not get to experience it myself but they had a VR headset to make you feel like you were “in the field”. The kind folks at Bitaco sent me home with a spiffy t-shirt and a bag of samples. I’ll be plotting a giveaway soon so that some of you get to try their stuff. My favorite was definitely the white tea that they were sampling.
Another favorite stop for bloggers was Teagather. We were all seriously nerding out over the instant Anhua heicha that they were sampling. They displayed a fantastical array of foods that were made using this stuff, including a surprisingly tasty dark tea oatmeal. Not for the squeamish, they also had a small microscope on hand to show the famous “golden flower” mold.
Presenting Tea like Wine
James Tidwell and Kyle Stewart gave one of my favorite talks of the conference. I could have sworn I had taken a picture of them speaking but sadly, you’ll have to settle for this stock photo of a wine glass. I work in customer service for a wine retailer so this was a fascinating collision of my two worlds.
The tea world is often concerned with how to convert coffee drinkers to the tea side. Kyle of The Cultured Cup discovered that wine sommeliers are a much more natural fit. They provided a ton of scientific data as well as years of experience to back up their findings. We were also provided a handout that applied wine terminology to teas.
The American Specialty Tea Alliance (ASTA) hosted a panel on trends and consumer behavior shifts that are being seen in specialty tea retail. It was a well planned and thought out discussion that offered a variety of perspectives. The world of tea can be so many things and the panel definitely reflected that. It is exciting to see where tea will be going in the future. Trends like CBD and holistic wellness were brought up along with the recent increased in demand for transparency.
P.S. You should totally think about joining the organization if you want to support the growth of the specialty tea industry in the United States!
Some unexpected nightlife
On my night in Las Vegas, I grabbed dinner at Mott 32 in The Venetian with Jo from Scandalous Tea, Sara from Tea Happiness, and Rachel from iHeartTeas. We were looking for something simple and dim sum sounded like just the thing.
Could you imagine the cheers of excitement when we opened the first page of the menu to be greeted by a tea list? I indulged in a delicious matcha cocktail and we capped our meal by sharing a deconstructed matcha cheesecake. A perfect end to an awesome week!
Everyone seems to be very excited about the big move to Denver next year. I think we may just see a bigger turnout because of it. Tea in the mountains sounds like a perfect getaway, especially during the hot summer months.
Will I see you there? If I were to give a presentation, what you would like to see me speak about? Let me know in the comments below!