This is my fourth World Tea Expo. I’m a newbie compared to many who’ve been attending since the start 11 years ago, but it still feels like coming home. I’ve noticed an evolution in the look and direction of the Expo in these four short years. It is an indicator of the increasing popularity of tea and the ability of the organizers to respond to that. In my opinion the core conference sessions are becoming more relevant to the shifting market.
The day starts early – first courses start at 8am. I was glad that I had my badge because the line up at registration was several hundred deep. (Tea is definitely hot!!) I decided to have a look at “Current Research on Tea and Health” with Peter Goggi, Executive Vice President of the Tea Association of the U.S.A. and Louise M. Pollock, a pr wizard who has been creating awareness of tea health for the industry for years. The session confirmed the Google alerts that I had been receiving for the past few years regarding tea and heart health, hydrating benefits of tea, tea and oral health. Just be sure to preface your claims with “may, could, can, preliminary research shows…”
Bill Waddington’s session on “The Real Life Evolution of a Tea Store” was insightful and practical as he galloped along at a speed that left me breathless. He was under a one hour time constraint, but managed to share his insights and planning charts for the opening of one of his Tea Source locations in Minnesota.
- Opening a tea shop is a delicate balance of time and money
- Underestimate income – Overestimate expenses
- Use a broker to find the space
- Negotiate the details of your lease and be prepared to walk away
- Hire a pro. An architect or designer will save you $$$ as they see things that you won’t see
- Avoid ‘Change Orders’
- Use a professional General Contractor
- Have a mid-construction Open House
The Exhibit Floor
The first day is always a ramble for me. I just like to get the lay of the land. The space is laid out in a grid as in all trade shows, but I always manage to walk diagonally through catching all the corner booths first. It’s day one, so no pressure to see everything.
I was pleased to meet the renowned American Tea Master, William Hall of Charleston Tea Plantation on Wadmalaw Island in Charleston South Carolina. He shared a 1st flush American Classic. It’s light gold liquor suited my palate. It was fresh and had some lingering notes of caramel and burnt sugar. Bill is involved with this tea from start to finish.
Rare Air – Pure Tea
I was delighted to meet Maggie LeBeau from Nepali Tea Traders and happy to find that Chandra Bhushan, who I met at WTE several years ago, was involved with the company. I love Himalayan Tea and I’m thrilled that it is going to be more readily available to tea lovers world wide.
My social media friend Lisa Kunizaki of Chambre de Sucre had a booth at WTE this year. So I dropped by for a brief visit to look at the sweet display she created. She has launched a new line of tea as well as the classic sugar art that the company is famous for.
Here and There
I’m rushing off to a session now, but I’ll leave you with some random images that I took throughout the day.
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