Well this is long overdue! I have been back from Las Vegas for 1-1/2 weeks and am only now sharing my experiences. I think it takes some time to recover from drinking a lot of hot tea in a very weird place while it is 112 degrees outside. This event is just for tea and teaware retailers, wholesalers and importers and is the biggest tea event held in the US.
Although there were no outstanding new steeping products that caught my eye, it was great to taste a lot of new teas, see old friends and meet new people, and take some really interesting classes. The Expo always has three days packed with classes and if you have the time and money, they are worth a tea retailer’s investment. I took “Korean Teas” with Jane Pettigrew and a workshop called “What is Brisk” with Aaron Vick. Jane made a very complicated tea history and culture much easier to understand with discussion and tasting of five different teas. “What is Brisk” was an exercise in cupping about 12 different teas and identifying taste and body characteristics. Both were excellent as they involved a lot of tasting and discussion about perceptions—just what I love to do!
On Saturday late afternoon, I participated in WuWo—a Taiwanese inspired tea-sharing ceremony that is done completely in silence. The participant makes tea for him/herself and three other participants—serving and sipping with the group. It was a unique experience and I look forward to trying this again soon.
The producers of the show, World Tea Expo announced its own online education platform which was created by Donna Feldman (who was one of my favorite teachers from Specialty Tea Institute). This program offers a Certified Tea Specialist designation—all from an online platform. I have to admit that I am a skeptic about any online tea education certification—mainly because the student misses the important teacher-led cupping and discussion—something that was so integral to my own professional grasp of tea. Donna is a big advocate of the program and I promised I’d keep an open mind.
There were quite a few new or soon-to-be tea business owners—many of whom said they were opening a tea bar-type business. I just hope they have a lot of money as a tea bar is an expensive investment and requires a lot of savvy planning and management to ever be profitable.
So in summary, it was…eat, drink tea, eat, drink tea, eat, sleep…the perfect life.