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.
The World Tea Expo is such a fantastic event that even after only a few times through I can't imagine not attending every year. I spark wonderful conversations with people, make new friends and contacts and come out knowing more than ever about tea in all its forms. This year really was no different in this respect. From a Tea Anthropologist I met at breakfast on Day 2 to time spent hanging out with my new buddy Ankit Lochan of Lochan Tea (we went to the Hoover Dam) I really had a great time this year.
But, without further ado...
I spent some quality time with a few of the larger brands on Sunday. A wonderful but short visit over to the Harney & Sons booth showed Michael Harney's lighter side and let me reconnect with the brand which first exposed me to loose tea. I always enjoy speaking with the Harney's. They have great business sense to be sure, and they know their teas but they're also great to talk with and learn from. You should drop in on their SoHo store if you're in Manhattan.
Moving along, I spent some time with some new friends with World Tea Media, purveyors of the World Tea News (WTN) industry publication and the World Tea and World Tea East expos. George and Kim Jage started the expo some number of years ago and it's really grown into something wonderful! Dan Bolton, editor of the WTN articles and I had a nice long chat as well. It was a pretty awesome chance to connect with some of the larger names in the industry at the moment.
International Tea Importers is one of the larger wholesale groups around and they have some mighty fine product. They had a couple of the more unique items I was able to check out this year. Amongst my favorite activities at the expo are speaking with ITI's purveyor, Mr. Devan Shah as well as venerable Tea Luminary Mr. James Norwood Pratt (to whom I always wish to bestow the title of Sir.) I hope next year I'll have the opportunity to share a meal with these gentlemen.
A stop over to Teas Etc yielded a great opportunity to chat up Beth Johnston and new friend Sherri Miller of Moonrise Tea Garden out of Hawaii. I reviewed Sherri's crop from last year if you care to check it out. I also had a chance to speak with Newman Johnston and am always super excited after talking tea, business and happy things with these folks. There's so much to go over and one expo isn't nearly enough time, let alone a short conversation within an expo!
Another group from Hawaii whom I didn't get the chance to review but did say hi to last year was Naliko Tea Gerden, now known as Tea Hawaii. It seems like Liam Ball of Naliko hooked up with a neat crowd. Tea Hawaii offers some neat products, an interesting brewing method where water is poured over the leaves and sifted into a drinking vessel. They also offer custom made tea cups made of clay which are all unique. The uniqueness is by virtue of a 'slap' to the clay as the potter is finishing spinning it which gives the cup its unique 'wobble.'
Another stop was made to a standby of mine. You can find Stash Tea products in nearly every grocery store in the United States. They're a HUGE brand. However, they're mostly known for their bagged teas. This is mighty unfortunate because their loose tea quality is actually pretty high. I always enjoy good conversation with Stash. I hope to cover more of their loose teas soon.
I did also run into Wendy Weir of Libre Tea whose brewing vessel I reviewed some time ago and pit against other tea mugs in a showdown last year. This was her first World Tea Expo exhibiting. Honorable mention to my friends at Honey Stix whose products I hope to review soon. A shout to my buddies at Eastrise Trading who handle distribution for Foojoy in North America. Another honorable mention for the folks at Nucha, and David over at Gorreana Portuguese Teas.
I was disappointed not to see some of my favorite exhibitors from the past two years. Notable absences included Puripan Tea Garden, TeaGschwendner, PeLi Teas, Tavalon Tea, Village Tea Company, SAFA Himalaya and Catalyst Tea Enhancers. I missed you guys!