As I plan and plot my path through the upcoming World Tea Expo 2017, I thought I’d have a peak at some of my experiences from last year’s expo to inspire and prepare me for this year’s show.
In 2016, I had very little time to cruise around the exhibit floor because I was book signing The Tea Book at Nepali Tea Traders booth for a few hours every afternoon. In the mornings I managed to attend a brilliant line up of educational sessions, view a host of innovative products, reunite with warm and supportive tea colleagues and of course, taste some fine tea. After 2 years in Long Beach, California, the expo returned to the Las Vegas Convention Centre. It’s hard to describe LV as home, but it is becoming familiar to me now, having visited 6 times. Here are some of my highlights – in no particular order, chronologically or otherwise.
Between conference sessions I spotted Chloe Liang of the China International Tea Cultural Institute, Hangzhou, Zhejiang province, China. I met her at the Institute 2012 and hadn’t seen her since.
Things I learned at Conference Sessions
- “Information is not knowledge.” James Norwood Pratt, Re-Evaluating Tea Education
- “Getting the truth in tea education is not so easy.” Austin Hodge (SevenCups), Re-Evaluating Tea Education
- “Education is way ahead of the market.” Kevin Gascoyne (Camellia Sinensis Tea House), Re-Evaluating Tea Education
- “Fermentation is an energy-releasing metabolic process in which an organism converts carbohydrates (starch and sugar) into an alcohol or acid by enzymatic action.” Selena Ahmed, assistant professor of Sustainable Food Systems, Montana State University Pu-erh and the Science of Fermentation
- “(Fermentation is) stewarding the natural phenomenon of decay.” chef, Noah ten Broek Pu-erh and the Science of Fermentation
- “Be respectful always – Politics and controversy don’t belong on social media.” Nicole Martin of Tea for Me Please Using Social Media…
Working With the Media: Learn from Top Tea Editors
It was an honour to be asked by Aaron Keil of akPR, media co-ordinator for World Tea Expo, to participate on a panel that he had assembled for one of the conference sessions. It was very well-attended and good advice was gleaned from the editors regarding how to pitch an article, how to follow up and how to respect guidelines when working with the media. Geoffrey Norman wrote a good post about the session on Steep Stories.
Tea and Food Pairing in the Sky
As the sun was starting to set over the Las Vegas cityscape, a grand event was warming up at Alizé restaurant on the 56th floor of The Palms Casino and Resort. Austin Hodge of Seven Cups greeted the arriving VIP guests while Alizé’s chef Mark Purdy in his kitchen, assembled culinary constructions laced with tea ingredients. As night fell and the “only in Las Vegas” views brightened through the restaurant’s glass windows, the evening unfolded with industry awards, accolades, glamour, and of course serious eating. Tea played the centre stage and we were wowed as beautifully plated course after course was paired with its tea soul mate. Near the kitchen, Zhuping Hodge of Seven Cups properly and expertly prepared all the teas – I was in awe.
I had a speed visit of the exhibit floor each day. It was a “capsule” experience and here are the highlights.
In Search of the Green Lantern Jar
From the moment I laid eyes on a picture of this green-glazed lantern jar, I became obsessed with finding it. On the last day of the expo, I managed to locate it just a few hours before closing. Like many things we dream about, when seen in person, they are much more humble. This piece was simple and clean with a glass-like finish in a soothing jade/sage shade of green. It was part of a larger collection that included small drinking cups and beautiful teas. Kathy Liang, president of Beijing Zhen Lu Hao Tea Co., Ltd. was just as elegant as her fine tea ware and exquisite teas. I wish I’d had more time to visit (there was a translator on site at her booth), but I was grateful to have the short half hour. The lesson learned: be sure to visit the exhibitors you are keen to see as they may not be back next year (I don’t see this company on the exhibitor list for 2017).
Oh so little time to see what’s new in the teapot world, but I spotted these.
Kenyan Purple Leaf Tea
Young Mountain Tea
And lastly, World Tea Expo is also about making new friends. I met these two cool guys from Jojo Tea, Miami. Michael Ortiz and Tico Aran just opened a tea tasting room in Miami that has been described as a “Speak Easy for Tea”. From pictures that I’ve seen, it looks ethereal and quiet, tucked away from its urban setting – the perfect way to retreat into a world that is completely about tea.