World Tea Expo

Tea is Hot! World Tea Expo 2013

Yes it is and that’s how I prefer it! I’ve never been a big fan of iced tea, except during the throws of enveloping summer humidity when anything with an ice cube in it gets my attention. But I’ll be heading to Las Vegas in a few weeks to attend World Tea Expo and in the U.S., restaurants will serve you iced tea unless you specifically ask for “hot” tea.

June 7, 8 and 9, Las Vegas, Nevada

World Tea Expo has adopted “Tea is Hot” as the catch phrase for the 2013 Trade Show.  To continue the metaphor; “Tea is on fire with consumers and World Tea Expo is ‘the big bang’ that keeps fueling businesses, helping them profit and grow from tea,” says George Jage, founder and director of World Tea Media, organizer of World Tea Expo. It’s true that in the 4 years since I first attended WTE I’ve seen a development in the offerings on the exhibit floor and in the conference’s educational sessions. At WTE, products are increasingly user friendly, innovative and colourful. Attendees are keen to learn more about the cultural traditions of tea so that they can bring the experience to their customers. And out in the real world I’ve seen tea ignite. People now understand what I’m saying when I tell them I’m a tea sommelier.

Over 3 intense days I will reconnect with growers, tea bloggers, wholesalers and retailers. The love of tea and it’s advancing universe draws us together to learn from each other. In the past few weeks I’ve been focusing on the products and sessions that I am most curious about. Here are a few that caught my attention:


Tea Baking with Thomas Shu

Sunday 3.15pm – 3.45,  Special Event Stage.

This will be one of the last events of the weekend. Mr. Shu is a regular at WTE, sharing his formidable knowledge of Taiwan’s exquisite tea and occasionally breaking into song. There will be no flour and butter in this “baking” seminar, but rather some insider dope on the baking of tea leaves as it applies to coaxing out flavours and adding longevity to the leaf. Secrets will be revealed…

You will also find Thomas Shu near the Taiwan Tea Manufacturer’s Association  Booth 441

Thomas Shu in 2010 explaining Oolong rolling


Everybody’s Talking about Terroir!

Saturday June 8th 9.45am – 10.45am

Kevin Gascoyne is one of 4 owners of Quebec’s Camellia Sinensis. He has spent 20 years travelling to Asia sourcing premium leaf for their shops and online business. He will reveal to us how growing environments (geology, rainfall, altitude, etc.) influence what we taste in our cup. Useful for anyone who is serious about tea appreciation. He also promises that we will all be able to pronounce “terroir” by the end of the session!

Camellia Sinensis will have a presence on the exhibit floor this year. I think this is a first for them.

Camellia Sinensis: Booth 415

Fields in Anji. The first Anji Bai Cha I tasted was from Camellia Sinensis


Japanese Pu er:

I didn’t know that Japan was producing Pu er tea. Has this existed and I was unaware while hiding under a tea bush? Many countries are exploring methods of tea production that are not part of their tradition eg. Green Tea from Sri Lanka, white tea from Malawi and any tea of any sort from America. Judging from the photo below, Sara’s Tea Caddie has sourced Pu er that looks correctly dark and earthy – organic malted brown rice culture was added to organic pan- fried green tea for fermentation for a period of 3-4 days. The proof will be in the tasting. I expect there will be a queue at this booth.

Sara’s Tea Caddie: Booth 530

New to the market, Japanese Pu er


Tea Source’s Taste Tea Cupping Journal

This is such a good idea I don’t know why someone didn’t think of it before now. In the walkabout from booth to booth we taste hundreds of teas. It can be confusing and challenging to remember which tea went with which business card. It will help to have a passport-sized journal in which to write tasting notes and info about suppliers. The amazing thing is that Tea Source will be providing these free to delegates who visit their booth. Smart, imaginative and generous!

Tea Source: Booth 400

The perfect way to keep track of all those teas you will be sampling.


Nepali Tea Traders

This new brand just reached it’s Kickstarter goal in early May. Nepali Tea Traders is a for-profit business that hopes to develop the taste and market for fine Himalayan leaf and bring fair prices to the region’s small scale tea growers. I’m happy that the superior teas from Nepal will be available to more people. It has been hard to find tea from this region in most shops.  I’ll be looking to try their Sandakphu Hand-Rolled Black, Annapurna Amber Oolong and Himalayan Golden Black.

Nepali Tea Traders: Booth 531

Nepali Teas, from top to bottom: Sandakphu hand-rolled black, Annapurna Amber Oolong and Himalayan Golden Black,


Brewfish (Three) by Highwave

I’ve asked for an image of the “Brewfish Three” from Highwave, but haven’t heard back, so I’m showing you the singular Brewfish -not sure what is different about the BF “three”- anyway this contraption claims to create a flask of tasty tea on the run. It is made of double-walled Borosilicate glass. I think there is some sort of fish-shaped spring that presses against the leaves at the desired time – a bit like a french press. More on its effectiveness when I have a closer look at the Expo.

Highwave: Booth 429

Highwave's Brewfish travel flask uses a unique plunger technology


Manly UmphTeas

Adagio Teas  promotional info describes this collection thus – “Gently masculine with a bit of whimsy, the Umph tea gift set is perfect for the gentleman tea lover!” The gift set includes three blends designed for ‘manly’ appeal in decorative tins: Sugar Daddy, Man Cave and Lounge Chair Lapsang. Tins flaunt images of grey worsted and satin sartorial splendour, tufted club chairs and mounted antlers – it just might work, but don’t be surprised if the ladies purchase too.

 Adagio Teas: Booth 528

Tea marketed to manly tastes

 ITO EN ~  Silver Leaf Gyokuro Blend with Silver Canister

ITO EN is one of the largest importer/wholesaler/retailers of Japanese tea in North America. They have been in business for 12 years and while they are now a big company, they concentrate on quality, supporting artisan tea and teaware. They pride themselves in their innovation and environmental stewardship: they recently made quite a buzz in the media with the introduction of a recycled tea leaf bench. The canister in itself is a work of art with its sculpted horizontal lines and matte silver exterior. The interior is satin polished grained wood (maybe cherry wood?) The inner sanctum contains a high grade blend of Silver Leaf and Gyokuro leaf.  First class!

ITO EN: Booth 814

First class all the way - ITO EN's blend of Silver Leaf & Gyokuro in exquisite silvered wooden Canister


Other Highlights

  • Saturday June 8th, 4:00 – 5:00 p.m. North American Tea Championship Winners Tasting Circle – White, Green, Oolong, Unflavored Herbal Teas
  • Healthy Beverage Expo is co-locating with WTE. Seems like a good fit. I’ll be exploring some of their offerings.

And the last word…

  • Friday June 7, 6pm – 7pm   I’ll be attending a Blogger’s Roundtable somewhere (tbd) on the conference floor. If you are a tea blogger, come join us!

 I will be posting live daily from World Tea Expo in Las Vegas. Please check back to the site Friday June 7th to Sunday 9th, 2013