Dear readers, I am sure with all the postings this week about the various expo experiences you are hard pressed to read another. Well, sorry, but I must. And yes there are photos of tea in plastic cups.
Note, also I feel today as if I have finally come off of my World Tea Expo excitement high and am slowly entering a state of languish longing.
This year’s core conferences and affiliate programs were chocked full of interesting presentations. Upon reviewing and deciding which I would attend, I was torn between all the exciting educational programs and tastings.
My dilemma based on the criteria below there were those presentations:
- Were I wanted to explore a topic and experience a tea
- That provided concrete instruction in line with what I do
- Were I wanted to be to give support to the speaker
Alas, I could not be everywhere and responsibilities also included hitting the show floor to explore the offerings.
I also entertained the thought that maybe I should take the road less followed.
Many of my tea friends headed to the presentations that involved tasting special teas taught by well versed instructors, I instead headed to the more consumer related presentations, instruction that could be applied to events.
My first stop a skill building workshop
“Tea Blending The Alchemy Of Tea” led by Victoria Bisongo, El Club del Té (The Tea Club)
Upon entering the room I was taken aback.
As a Tea Blender the sight of tables adorned with large bowls of tea, herbs and accessories along with an abundance of flavors that could be added, was breathtaking.
The class was filled (I heard they had 60+) attendees).
Everyone was buzzing about either working on their creations attempting to identify some of the beautiful herbs and flowers on display.
This was truly a hands-on experience. Bags and bags of personal blends lined the tables. Victoria and her assistants walking from table to table guiding each group and answering the many questions posed.
After a while Victoria went back to the front of the class and suggested the next blend creation “Earl Grey” she proceeded to give history and instruction on how to create this staple and encouraged the class to add their own twist.
I walked from table to table watching as the students eagerly took up this challenge.
I overheard one student describing his blend and had to stop and chat.
Donald King, of Zenful People LLC/Steep, Flagstaff, AZ, who has studied aromatherapy, was mentioning that his Earl Grey would contain cinnamon, as it would add a sexy touch to the brew.
Intrigued, I made my way over to take a look and ask to take a whiff. OMG, what a heavenly blend, I entreated him to share a bit with me so I could brew in about a week once the contents settled.
I was not wrong it is divine. Thank you Donald, I am enjoying this treat while I type.
Note also there were two flavor companies represented on the show floor
FlavorDynamics who supplied the flavors for this event. FlavorDynamics is a business-to-business flavor producer that prides itself on its creativity, consistency, quality and dedication to customer care. They work with larger tea companies and require higher minimums. Members of their staff have taught or developed a variety of courses and seminars on the science of flavors at several educational facilities. I have had the pleasure of being instructed by one of their staff Wolfgang Boehmer through my blending training at ITEI Institute and it was great to see him at the show.
Carmi Flavors where you can purchase smaller quantities (gallon minimums) and as they state on their website “Some of our best work was possible because of small orders! No matter what, a customer of ours can expect 100% every time”.
“Amplifying Your Business Through TeaBloggers”
Yes, I attended this presentation, as a matter of fact; I was part of the panel presentation. The panel headed by Jen Piccotti, An International Tea Moment who was nominated, for the second year in a row, in the “Best Tea Blog” category. It was such an honor being a part of this collective and sitting amongst some of the more well established tea bloggers/writers/reviewers, Geoff Norman, SteepStories/Lazy_Literatus and Nicole Martin, Tea For Me Please . The presentation was chocked filled with useful information and facts focused on how retailers can work with bloggers to get their message out and ended with a question and answer session. It was a great presentation and well received. Also thanks to all the bloggers who attended to give us support.
“Coffee Leaf Tea: The Revolutionary New Tea”
Max Rivest & Arnaud Petitvallet of Wize Monkey took us through their journey of how the product began, and the efforts to provide a way for Coffee farmers to turn what is a three-month harvest into a year round source of income. As stated on their website “With a constant flow of income, these farms can now convert seasonal jobs into permanent ones. This helps develop better communities and stronger families with sustainable and organic agriculture since employees have stable work and don’t need to seek off-season income in other cities.”
I encourage you to visit their website and read about their passionate mission. This session ended with our sampling the brew that had an interesting flavor profile and distinctive taste. There are several flavored offerings as well Earl Grey, Mango Party and Minty Marvel.
“Marriages Made In Tea and Dessert Heaven”
Robert Wemischner Although, I did not have the opportunity to attend this presentation I did get the chance to sample the creations. The treats were outstanding and beautifully presented and was “buzzed” about on the lobby floor with many of our tea buddies enjoying his craft.
“Educate Your Customers While Making a Profit”
Bruce Richardson gave us outlines of types of events that can be hosted by tea retailers to educate their customers and in turn sell tea. There were so many ideas he brought to the table and explained simple methods of execution. From Downton Abbey to Flights of Tea by region or variety, he gave the audience much to ponder and ended by asking the audience for additional ideas. I mentioned my “Out of Africa” event that has been highly successful.
One in particular that appeared to be of great interest was creation of a Jane Austen event, combining discussions of Jane’s Books along with tea.
This idea always a successful one and I have had the pleasure of participating in one gathering held in New York a few years ago. Jane enthusiasts are amazing they hold dear everything Jane inspired. Bingley’s Teas has created The Jane Austen Series with Jane lovers in mind highlighting the various characters found in Jane’s’ works and can be purchased online a definite plus at any Jane inspired event. The founder of Bingley’s, Julia Matson travels the country and the world spreading the Jane message and brews a spectacular cup.
“The Essentials of Puerh Appraisal”
I attended this session to increase my understanding of this tea type. I have a new venture coming up “Pu’er Academy” and wanted to increase my knowledge of the topic. Well, as with everything tea it is “a lifelong study”. The class was very informative and the presenters very knowledgeable. I left with several points to ponder 1) if making a significant monetary investment you “must trust your supplier” 2) deals are rare, for example if a 50 year old prized pu’er is offered at a ridiculously low price “Buyer Beware”. As with many leaves searching for both quality and what appeals to your palate is a journey. We were presented with tea samples to help us identify the difference between aged and commercial, raw and cooked and presented with the lessons therein. This was great class and I hope it will be offered again.
3rd Annual TeaBloggers Roundtable
Again, I had an opportunity to sit with esteemed tea writers/bloggers/reviewers and this panel was filled with “Tea RockStars”. Hosted by Gary Robson of “Tea With Gary” fame. He came adorned in a kilt in honor of request. Much like the previous Core Conference on blogging the room was filled.
There is so much interest in blogging and bloggers and as Jen Piccotti indicated in the previous panel “Technorati’s 2013 Digital Influence Report states,
“That consumers are turning to blogs when looking to make a purchase”. Blogs are now the third most influential digital resource (31%) when making overall purchases behind retail sites (56%) and Brand sites (34%) according to Social Media examiner. Blogs exceed Facebook, YouTube, LinkedIn Twitter and Instagram.”
Our panel comprised a variety of writing styles and tea focuses:
Naomi Rosen writes for her own blog under “Joy’s Jabberings”
as well as being a influential contributor/writer for United States League of Tea Growers .
Chris Giddings of “Tea-Guy” fame and also the creator of Teaity , a great website for exploring tea.
Geoff Norman “Steep Stories/Lazy_Literatus” who’s amazingly creative writing always captivates me.
Jen Piccotti “An International Tea Moment” who shares her life experiences along with cups of tea nominated, as mentioned prior, for “Best Tea Blog” two years in a row.
Nicole Martin “Tea For Me Please” who has captured the blogging scene with her tea reviews, podcasts, videos and newsletters. Nicole also had the honor of being nominated for the WTE 2015 awards for both “Best Tea Blog” and “Best Social Media Reach”
Rachel Carter “iHeartTeas” with a former focus on beauty products infused with tea of her own very talented creation and a newfound interest in exercise, fitness, and tea and alcohol combinations.
On our topic this year “The Melding of Voices”, Gary did a wonderful job posing questions to this tea drunk group. I mention this because prior to our panel presentation Geoff provided us with a treasured treat, a tea that was grown in Scotland. The brewing of this gem expertly done by Natasha Schwartz, “Snooty Tea Person” .
I am hoping some time in the future to cover the questions, with help from Gary, more in depth in order for more tea bloggers to have their voices heard. Also at this meeting Jen Piccotti announced the release of the Tea Bloggers Directory a website where tea bloggers can register and exhibit their profiles for retailers interested in contacting them.
At the end of our session Eva Lee made an announcement regarding the new TOTUS awards. A national competition for USA Grown Tea. The competition will be held for the first time November 4, 2015. If you want more information contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Linda Gaylard, “The Tea Stylist”, also joined us for a short time, Darlene Meyers-Perry, “The Tea Enthusiast’s Scrapbook” gave us help and support, both whom have been previous panelists at the roundtable.
In addition Ricardo Caicedo, “My Japanese Green Tea” blog, joined us coming all the way to WTE from Columbia, South America.
Sorely missing from our illustrious group were a few of my favorite tea writers who could not make the trip this year V.L. Hamilton, Tea Philosophy , Michael Coffey, Tea Geek and Robert Godden, The Devotea .
If you would like another view of the of our meeting read the wonderful write up in Matters Of Interest written by Drew Kaplan.
If you would like to be part of TeaBloggers Roundtable please sign up here . Participation requires only that you blog about tea and is at your own time and convenience. Note you do not have to attend WTE to become a contributor, we want to get to know you and help support you on your journey.
Jason McDonald, Nigel Melican, Naomi Rosen, Josephine Dean Jackson
So unfortunate I was unable to attend this meeting this year . As a member of this initiative, I keep abreast of the advancements through the membership and their very informative newsletter. I did hear they showed a photo of my little baby bud as one of the new tea growing area of Harlem, NYC.
The league has come a long way since it’s inception three years ago. If you are interested in growing tea this the site to check. If you are interested in membership see the link here.
As you see I was very busy both as a speaker and press attendee and that is part of World Tea Expo so much to see and do and the time flies by quickly.
Winding down with two more posts to complete World Tea Awards and rant (ha ha) and wind-up.
Thanks for reading.
Note; if I have used your photo without proper credit, my apology in advance. Just contact me and I will make a correction.