The World Tea Expo held every year in Las Vegas is the world's only industry convention dedicated solely to the premium tea industry. It's not open to the public and I've been very lucky to attend the past two years!
Here's part one of this three part recap to the activities and friends from this year's expo!
The World Tea Expo moved to a new facility this year. Last year it was held on the strip in the Mandalay Bay Convention Center. This year, it was off-strip at the Las Vegas Convention Center and co-located with the Natural Marketplace Show which meant attendees could make their way through both conferences.
I liked the placement at Mandalay Bay better due to its proximity to more dining options. The only things within a reasonable walking distance for the Las Vegas Convention Center were multiple Starbucks locations and an overpriced collection of Aramark eateries in a food court. Mandalay Bay had a low cost food court as well. But last year when I needed food I ate at three and four star restaurants. I may have paid less for food this time around, but that's not what I'd have preferred.
Hundreds, can I say that again, HUNDREDS of exhibitors were at this expo. Though a bit smaller than last year's by exhibitor attendance I felt the crowd was more tuned to the industry and focussed on what they wanted. Last year there were a lot more first time entrepreneurs who hopefully are focussing their energies on their young businesses.
Making my way down the first row I found The Metropolitan Tea Company which has lots of neat stuff. You should definitely check them out! I also ran into The Tea Spot, and they gave me a Tuffy Steeper which I reviewed last week.
Further down I discovered the Ajiri Tea girls who have a truly outstanding story! Their product is a single black tea from Kenya, made CTC style, it was malty and nice. I hope to do an interview and spotlight on them in the near future. Yet further down I ran into Elena from Svay, a Russian tea company. I'll be reviewing their teas throughout this year.
Row two had all kinds of serious fun! I started with Basilur which has some really neat new packaging. I ran into the wonderful folks of the New Vithanakande Tea Estate in Sri Lanka. I really enjoy their teas year after year and was very excited to meet them!
A pit stop at Sara's Tea Caddie for some slow brewed Yutakamiori Sencha was a great interruption to the hustle and bustle! Moving on there was FUSO International which makes tea bag machines. Their stuff said NASA all over it, but it's apparently not that NASA. I also ran into the Jun Chiyabari Estate family from Nepal again this year! We talked for a while last year and I really enjoyed their honesty and personality again this year.
Melville Candy had some neat Honey Spoons I hope to review soon. It's a really novel idea. Moving on, I discovered KEIKO which is a Japanese tea company which mostly has presence in Europe. They had to back out of last year's show as their warehouse burned to the ground two weeks before the 2009 expo. I look to get samples from them for review later this year.
The 2nd row also gave me Lucha which makes a tea infuser mug I reviewed a couple weeks back, Squeezemo which makes a neat little tea bag squeezer to drain the bags and keep them off your plates, and the fine folks of SAFA Himalaya who carry exclusively Nepalese teas, such as those from Jun Chiyabari.
That about does it for Day 1. Check back soon for Day 2 and Day 3.