This year's World Tea Expo is my 3rd trip to this event. I've appreciated the opportunities to learn and meet new people each year. I've made friends and contacts from every corner of the world and every continent save for Antarctica. The events and sights from this first day of the expo are similar to those from the past two years. Full of energy, vibrant colors and effusive scents tantalizing for everyone here. Read more to learn more.
While the World Tea Expo remains an industry only event, there's much going on here which is indicative of progress and growth beyond the tea industry itself. My trip out this year was for more than just keeping you and I up to date on the happenings within the tea industry.
From news and concern of radiation seepage in Japanese teas to judging the quality of this year's first flush Darjeeling's after a labor crises led to later than normal picks, there's much to understand for this year's crop. Floods AND droughts in China have impacted crops there as well.
Mix in a little business with my blogging pleasure. I'm working on a tea related startup I've been needing to drum up some support for. I'm very excited for its future and overwhelmingly positive feedback from the market I feel will continue to lead to great things to share with you in the future.
But enough about me, let's move on to Day 1 of the 2011 World Tea Expo!
A trip down Aisle 1 instantly yielded a chat with the girls from The Tea Spot. Last year they'd provided me with a sample unit of a little steeping tool called a Tuffy Steeper. This year they've a little gadget called Brewlux which is supposed to be used for brewing loose leaves in a cardboard/paper cup you may get from a coffee shop or some such. This little item is actually really neat. Biodegradable and compostable it reacts to bacteria or chemical breakdown assistants. Without those assistants though, this item can be used, reused, re-reused, placed in a dishwasher for cleaning (top rack only) and used again. If you drink loose on the go and often find yourself in need of a method to keep the loose leave separated from the water while drinking on the go from an average vessel... this little diddy is for you!
A trip slightly further down the aisle led me to an interesting booth from... Portugal? Gorreana has grown tea for mass consumption in Portugal for more than a century. Now they're looking to expand into the US market. The tea provided appears primarily CTC style black in different grades of fineness. The flavor is there, but seems like it doesn't quite match with what I've come to expect from more notable growers.
Further down Aisle 1 I paid a visit to my buddy Ankit Lochan from Lochan Tea Estates. Ankit is from Darjeeling India and produces some very wonderful teas. You won't find Ankit's teas on the shelves though, he sells to companies and wholesalers, not to retailers. Look for products from Teas Etc., Tea Source, Adagio and others to try teas produced by the Lochan plantations.
The back end of Aisle 1 was primarily filled with companies producing products used to manufacture tea bags )not the tea inside). I skipped this part because I didn't see it as added value for the blog coverage. (If you'd like me to cover these companies and their equipment next year, let me know.
Aisle 2 held a collection of Sri Lankan and Indian tea growers. A number of American firms too. Some of my usual friends weren't present this year which I found unfortunate, but new companies took their place nonetheless as the expo expanded its exhibitor list.
The heart of Aisle 2 held Adagio Teas. Adagio remains one of the best selling online tea brands in the United States. During the past year though, they've opened two brand new sparkling pretty new stores I hope to drop in on one of these days. Ilya, Cynthia and Charles have all become great contacts these past few tea filled years! I remain excited to see what Adagio has in store!
Day 1 coverage was fairly light. I have much more for Day 2 and Day 3. Come back tomorrow for more!