Many tea professionals have written in detail on all aspects of the recent World Tea Expo, I am going to report on the annual industry event from my perspective of the three very busy while enjoyable days I spent at the show.
The 10th Anniversery of the World Tea Expo is now over and the anticipation is building for World Tea East in Philadelphia on October 2-3, 2012 at the Pennsylvania Convention Center. The recent West Coast and upcoming East Coast Expos are the largest events dedicated to specialty tea in North America. You are probably wondering what could tea professionals possibly do for three days that is directly related to tea. Well, just read these satistics (taken from the Celebrating 10 Years!, World Tea Expo Schedule, page 11) -- remember these have taken place over the course of a decade . . . .
- Approximately 6,120,000 samples of tea have been tasted--that's nearly three gallons per person. (I am sure I have definitely consumed my three gallons and this was only my 4th World Tea Expo.)
- Conservately speaking, approximately 35,000 different flavors of tea have been savored. Did you get that --- 35,000 different flavors?
- Nearly 17 tons of premium tea has been showcased. (Remember that most tea is very light in weight.)
- Nearly 1,000 new products were launced at World Tea Expo. (All related in someway to tea and many of which I now own!)
- 486 educational conference sessions have been taught. (Here again, I sure have attended my share of these tea educational sessions.)
- The first tea auction on U.S. soil was held. (No, I did not have the honor of being present for this.)
- The first professional tea competition in the United States was conducted. (No, I was not present for this competition.)
- The first tea brewing competition was created. (Nor, did I attend this first tea brewing competition.)
- The first cooking with tea demonstration by a professional chef was offered. (Ah, yes, I did attend this demonstration and believe me, it was wonderful. One of the most interesting and delicious meals I have eaten.)
- The first authentic Gong Fu, Korean and Japanese tea ceremony demonstrations were held at a U.S. show. (Although, I did not attend these ceremonies at a World Tea Expo I have attended all these ceremonies.)
- More than 60 languages have been spoken.
And the statistics go on and on with new ones being added each Expo.
I attended the show all three days and can honestly report that I learned something new each day. New teas to taste where offered in every aisle, from a Taiwan ground green tea to an award winning Kenyan black tea grown by small-scale farmers. Each box, of the Kenyan tea, features a unique label handmade using dired banana bark from banana trees where a hundred percent of the profits are used to pay school fees for orphans. One never knows what you will find on the exhibit floor of a World Tea Expo.
Since I was registered for an additional Level 4 Specialty Tea Insitutute Certification class, I decided to keep my participation in educational sessions to a reasonable number to allow more time for exhibit hall demonstrations and tastings. With this restriction in mind, I choose a Core Conference session that included my favorite beverages -- Tea and Wine!
The session -- "How to Put Together a Comparative Tea and Wine Tasting" was taught by Certified Tea Specialist, Kyle Stewart and Beverage Manager and Master Sommelier, James Tidwell. Both gentlemen are well accomplished in their fields while extremely generous with their time, skills, and knowledge to encourage others to explore the Worlds of Tea and Wines. By the way, James Tidwell will soon be a Certified Tea Specialist in addition to all his expertise.
The similarities of the two beverages were examined during parings of a Santorini white wine with a Bai Hao Yin Zhen (Silver Needles from the Fujian Province of China), a Texas Viognier (white wine) with Huang Jin Gui (an Oolong Tea from the Fujian Province of China), and finally we paired a Santenay from France with an Oriental Beauty from Taiwain. Similarities of the wines with the selected teas were comparable in color, brightness, aroma, and flavor notes. This was an experience that I truly enjoyed and hope to provide the opportunity to do a tea and wine comparative with others. I have been motivated to include wine when exploring the characteristics of tea.
During my "pre-tea" days I had the opportunity to attend many trade shows but have yet to attend one better planned than the World Tea Expos. Kudos to all who have played a part in the idea, planning, and execution of all World Tea Expos.
Anticipating World Tea East,
The Tea and Hat Lady