I love going to tea events and I’ve been always been eyeing the World Tea Expo! It is one of the largest tea events in North America, so I was excited I was able to go this year.
The World Tea Expo is a trade show and this year, it spanned over four days. The event is not open to the public, therefore, I was lucky that I was given a Press Pass which gave me access to the trading floor, as well as the workshops, which would have come at an additional cost. The location of the expo was Vegas, Nevada between June 10 to 13, 2019. The first day of the expo was “Bootcamp” training sessions, followed by three days of exhibit hall floor, workshops, and sessions.
I thought the best way for this recap this event was to go by day! That way I can bring everyone along with me. I opted for workshops because I found the sessions were a bit too business or niche-focused. I attended “Origins Tasting Tour” and “It’s Not Easy Being Green: An Experimental Green Tea Processing Workshop.”
Therefore, I decided to split this recap into three parts. I was in Las Vegas for a total of five days. We will be covering my first three days in this post and the latter two next week, followed by Part 3 which will be a tasting of the green teas from the processing workshop.
I have never been to Las Vegas before, so I decided to go a bit early and be a tourist. On the suggestion of the hotel concierge, I ended up taking a trip to the Las Vegas Strip and walked around a bit. I have to say, it looks exactly like it does in movies: loud, flashy and glitzy! After I had my fill, I went to see Penn and Teller, which was a blast.
Another suggestion the concierge gave me was taking a hop-on-and-off tour bus. I admit to not being a fan of the heat, so I sat on the bus and circled around the Strip and the Downtown area. It gave me a birds-eye view of all the important landmarks – including the “Welcome to Las Vegas” sign.
That being said, I did hop off once, and that was to have afternoon tea at the Waldorf Astoria Las Vegas (Thank you ros_strange for the suggestion)! The tea lounge was 23 floors up and overlooked over the Strip. Afternoon tea came with tea sandwiches, desserts, and scones. To pair with the food, I picked a Golden Tippy Assam which had lovely sweet malty notes. It was the perfect afternoon! To round off the night, I saw Cirque du Soleil.
Origins Tasting Tour
Now that tourism is out of the way, on to the main event! Since I knew I wanted to blog about my experience, I pick topics I thought that would be a bit less business-focused. I was given access to the Origins Tasting Tour workshop which spanned the whole day. Having travelled around the world to learn about tea, I always find there is still so much to learn!
The hostess was Jane Pettigrew. I had never met her before but have one of her books, so I was a bit starstruck. She was lovely and introduced each speaker and fielded questions after each presentation. We “travelled” to 7 countries: China, Sri Lanka, India, Japan, Nepal, Taiwan and Korea. I was happy to see Korea because I have become a lot more interested in the country after meeting Soo from Soocha Tea and tasting some Korean teas! During each presentation, we were given teas to examine and taste.
China was presented by Tea Drunk‘s Shunan Teng. The focus was on Wu Yi Yan Cha or Cliff Tea which is a dark roasted Oolong from Wu Yi Shan. We tasted Shun Xian, Rou Gui, and Da Hong Pao. Of all three, I think I have only tried the latter, so it was nice to see how the rest of the region tastes.
The Sri Lanka portion was presented by Walters Bay‘s John Cullicott, which focused more on the various producing regions and elevation than one specific area. At the Toronto Tea Festival, the Sri Lanka Tea Board also does a tasting in a similar manner, so it was nice to learn more about each tea.
Due to time constraints, I assume, we only tasted from 4 of the 7 growing regions. We had Bop (Dimbula region – high grown), FBOP (UVA region – high grown), BP1 (Kady region – mid grown), and Pekoe 1 (Ruhunan region – low grown). Sri Lanka is a country I still need to learn about but have always enjoyed the teas I have tried.
The India presentation also focused on growing regions and was presented by Glenburn Tea Direct‘s Shalini Agarwal. India has 3 growing regions: North East Region, Western Region and Southern Region. We tasted 2 from the North East Region, an Assam Golden Tips Second Flush and Darjeeling First Flush, 1 from the Western Region, Kangra Valley First Flush SFTGFOP1, and lastly a Nilgiris Black Tea from the Southern Region. I find it very informative to taste from different regions of a country to learn more about the various tastes a country can develop!
The fourth country was Japan, which was covered by Rona Tison from ITO EN, North America. Whereas the other presenters focused on tea producing region, Rona showcased tea types. We covered, Sencha, Genmai, Hoji and Matcha. We were also given samples of ITO EN’s matcha LOVE line canned sweetened and unsweetened matcha which was tasty!
Tea Bloggers Roundtable
(Photo taken by Naomi Rosen)
When the workshop took a lunch break, it was the perfect time for me to go to Tea Bloggers Roundtable! I was on the panel as a last-minute sub in for Nicole of Tea for Me Please since she was a judge for the first American Tea Masters Cup competition.
The panel consisted of Jo (Scandalous Tea), Rachel (I Heart Teas), Char (Oolong Owl), Sara (Tea Happiness), Daniela (Tea Cachai), and myself with Geoffrey (Steep Stories of the Lazy Literatus) acting as the moderator. The topic of the panel was “Inspiration, Aspiration, and Perspiration”.
The panellists each took time to speak about running a blog and burnout. Sometimes as a blogger, it does feel a bit isolating so, it was nice to hear other people’s story and be inspired. I know I have had my ups and downs with the blog, but I am happy with the direction it is now going!
I am a rather shy person which is one reason I don’t show my face on the blog. However, I thought it was time to break out of my comfort zone, and I am glad I did. I was able to meet some of the tea friends I had known through Instagram and make some new ones too! Once the panel was over, I rushed back to the Origin Tasting Tour.
Origins Tasting Tour (continued)
Sadly, while I was at the Tea Bloggers Roundtable panel, I missed all of Nepal (Jeni Doff Tea) and Taiwan (JT & Tea) presentation. The people at my table were very sweet and tried to hold the teas for me to taste. However, sadly the staff had to take Nepal away. Thankfully, I was able to taste Taiwan which included a Milk Oolong, a Classic Tung-Tin (Gold), and Formoas Bonita (Ruby). The teas made me miss Taiwan!
Last but not least was Korea presented by Sharyn Johnston from the Australian Tea Masters. Sharyn showed a range of teas from a Woojeon (first flush), a Korean Breakfast Tea (a blend), and a Korean Citron Tea. I had never tried the breakfast blend before so, I was happy to taste more Korean teas!
End of the day
After the sessions, I met up with some of the bloggers from the panel, and we ended up helping Jason and Timmy from the Great Mississippi Tea Company prepare for Experimental Green Tea Processing Workshop the next day! It was nice to see fresh tea leaves again. After that was dinner with a large group of tea friends and off to bed!
With some foreshadowing for what’s to come, visit my blog next week for Part 2 of my World Tea Expo trip!
- Date: Monday, June 10 to Thursday, June 13
- Venue: Las Vegas Convention Center
- Company: World Tea Expo
The question of the post: What country would you like to visit to learn more about tea?
Edit: Nicole of Tea for me Please added my recap to her weekly Friday round-up! Make sure to check out the other posts great posts that week such as tea reviews, tea from Georgia, and someone’s chanoyu journey!