Tea and Travel World Tea Expo

California Here I Come! World Tea Expo 2014

1946 postcard - My Grandmother's era

For some reason the song “California here I come, right back where I started from”, was popular in our household when I was a kid – not because we missed California. We had never been there, but perhaps because my Grandmother used to make the trip by plane in the 1940’s and 50’s to visit her brother in Turlock and would go on to Laguna Beach for some of the winter. She missed that casual artsy life in later years and passed along this infectious tune which is now rolling around my head.

World Tea Expo has been bringing the tea community and industry face to face for 10 years, most of that time in Las Vegas. Now I acknowledge that  LV has its advantages – cheap packages of flight and accommodation – but rather predictable artificial recreational possibilities once you leave the exhibition floor. And it certainly does not have an ocean with a beach and a famous art deco cruise ship (the Queen Mary) docked in port. This year it also doesn’t have World Tea Expo. That honour goes to Long Beach California! I’m excited for the change of locale. The Expo seems to have moved to a new level mirroring tea’s trending rise in popularity.

So beaches and ships aside, I’m really going to the Expo to get a beat on new products, this year’s tea harvest, marketing trends and connect with my people – my tea people.

Here are a few of the highlights I’ll be steering toward May 29, 30 and 31st. I haven’t seen any of these items in person because they are all finalists in the New Product Awards category so I’m going purely by description, but they’ve intrigued me enough to want to find them and examine them up close.

Eigenart’s Flow Tea, Booth 732

There are any number of travel infusers on the market. You can most likely buy them now at your local hardware store, but Eigenart’s design appeals to me because of its colourful visuals and its neoprene cover. If this fabric can keep a diver warm in a wetsuit it should do a good job of cozying your tea.

Flow Tea with Cherry blossoms and with neoprene cover

Chazen: Japanese Tea Ceremony Starter Box Set :Booth 857

There’s no picture because I’ve been unable to find out anything about Chazen, but I’m curious about their featured item – This is how they describe it on the WTE website “Very Nice Japanese Tea and Zen Ceremony Starter Box Set from Japan. It includes everything you would need to perform the Tea and Zen ceremony. Each piece has been  handmade and is truly authentic.”

Camellia Sinensis: New Teapot and cups  Booth: 537

Looks like another winner  from the Camellia Sinensis Team. A traditional looking teapot and tasting cups made to their specifications by a ceramic workshop in Taiwan. The teapot appears to have a nice wide opening with the useful addition of an infuser.

750ml tea pot and 100ml teacup available in antique blue (shown), chartreuse and white

Satemwa Tea Estates: Booth 460

I’ve been hearing good things about this estate through various tea community discussions. Satemwa is located in Malawi in the interior of East Africa. They have quite a reputation for their White Tea. I will be hovering and hoping for a taste.

Core Conference:

Here are some sessions that sound engaging:

  • Current Trends and Future Outlook for Tea
  • How to Source & Select Your Teas
  • Cultivating the Next Generation of Tea Connoisseur
  • The New Face of Retail

Focused Tastings:

These are hands on and experiential

  • Focused Tasting: The Chemical Mysteries of Puer Tea, the ‘Fat Burner’
  • Focused Workshop: Teas from Thailand
  • Focused Tasting: Sensory Evaluation of Tea

Other highlights:

  • Friday at 3pm 2nd Annual meeting of the US League of Tea Growers (I fantasize about having a small tea garden)
  • Friday at 5pm – I’m on the panel of “Tea Bloggers Roundtable”
  • Friday at 7pm – how will I get back to my hotel to get red carpet-ready in time for the 7pm World Tea Awards aboard The Queen Mary? My old and new careers are colliding…

Check back as I report live from World Tea Expo!

Some tea blogging friends and I will be discussing this and that