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 two of this three part recap to the activities and friends from this year's expo!
Let's start out at the front of the 3rd row here. This row is exciting to me because I know some people here and some others are altogether brand new to the expo this year. A great mix of old and new!
First up is Qtrade Teas & Herbs. This company is one of the leading direct importers of teas and herbs to the United States directly from their source countries. In the next booth is Kopius Teas, the exclusive distributor of Qtrade imports. Directly across from Qtrade and Kopius is Elmwood Inn Fine Teas which is based in my neck of the woods down in Kentucky.
Further down the row I ran into my friends at The Art of Tea whose branding I love! They were nestled just before a split in the rows and were directly across from my peeps at Adagio Teas such as Cynthia Fazekas, Ilya Kreymerman and Charles Cain!
The next segment seems to be the most difficult for me. China row. The Indian and Sri Lankan folks all speak some form of English, but the Chinese don't always understand what I'm saying. It doesn't keep me from trying though. And try I did! I even ended up learning about a nice little tea shop in Columbus, OH called ZenCha Tea Salon. I'm planning a trip up to review their place soon!
An old buddy from last year's expo resurfaced with force and had a bigger booth and much stronger branding. Kaushika Patel of Catalyst Gourmet makes flavor and tea enhancers. Essentially spice sets you can add to food, tea or other items to escape from the hum-drum of the everyday. While I wouldn't personally be adding ony of these to an orthodox tea, there's some pretty nice stuff in her cabinet, let me tell you!
Directly across from Catalyst Gourmet was Runa, a new herbal beverage company selling a product derived from a plant called Guayusa (why-you-suh). It's pretty decent and they have several flavored options including a mint and an original.
For those counting Runa is the third company listed here which boasts their own 501c(3) Non-Profit Foundation which provides some or all of their profits back to the growers & pickers of their product. The first was Ajiri which I visited on Day 1. They provide 100% of their profits back to Kenyan orphanage schools. The second was SAFA Himalaya which provides a protion of their profits back to the Nepalese growers they source their teas from.
At the end of row three we had a mild tweetup where I met Adam Hansen as well as Chris Palmer of Tazo Tea. That was pretty neat. I think the World Tea Expo needs a tweetup every year which is formally arranged. The way it is now, there were four of us at this year's tweetup and 12 at last year's.
So far, that's just half of day 2! We've so much more to go! On to row 4!
Starting at the end of row 4 we hit International Tea Importers where Mr. James Norwood Pratt was speaking. Mr. Pratt is always great to listen to. He knows more about tea than anyone I've met and he remains lively and energetic!
After the poke around the ITI booth it was time to head off for Aiya, makers of fine Matcha and Matcha products. It's always fun to run into Shiro Nobunaga and Fumi Sugita. We had a great conversation last year too! Just across the row split was ITO EN, a favorite of mine from last year. A wonderful hello from Rona Tison veep of product marketing always goes a long way to a good day!
Next up is Village Tea Co. Martin runs a great shop in Dallas and his branding is spectacular. It makes me want to consume it to be hip and attractive... just like he is! If you haven't read it yet, I wrote a review on his Gentle Organic Lemon Ginger Green Tea last a while back.
A little further down was one of my favorite booths to hit during the expo last year, and again this year. Puripan! This Korean tea company is based in California and has some really interesting and fantastic teas such as Mugwort or their Kusus or Soba-cha.
Further down we find The East Indies Tea Company whose name reminds me of the fabled East India Company which classically created the tea industry outside of Asia and controlled the majority of it for nearly 200 years with the Queen's blessing. And finally Rishi Tea. Rishi walks away with awards every year, and this year was no exception. I'll have a separate post all about the World Tea Championships at a later date.