Last week I posted Part 1 of my World Tea Expo recap where I covered my first 3 days in Las Vegas. This week I will dive into the experimental green tea processing workshop I attended and the rest of my time in Vegas. I thought a fitting cover photo would be a tea I helped with processing!
As a reminder, the World Tea Expo is a trade show and this year it was located in Las Vegas, Nevada between June 10 to 13, 2019. This post will focus on Day 4 and 5 of my trip and the “It’s Not Easy Being Green: An Experimental Green Tea Processing Workshop.” Make sure to check out Part 1 for the first 3 days of my trip!
It’s Not Easy Being Green: An Experimental Green Tea Processing Workshop (Day 1)
Tea processing has become a huge interest for me ever since my Asia trip, so I wanted to see how tea could be made “at home.” The workshop was run by Jason and Timmy from The Great Mississippi Tea Company. It demonstrated four ways to make green tea: Steamed, pan fried, blanching/boiling and Sous Vide.
There was a short presentation about tea processing and the science behind it via Virginia Utermohlen Lovelace (Jason presented because Virginia couldn’t be there in person, but she joined via phone to answer questions). One takeaway that surprised me was learning how smelling really is unique to the individual. When we smelled some of the chemical compounds found in tea, some people were unable to smell them. This really illustrated how tea and tasting is such a personal thing!
After the presentation, it was time to make tea. The workshop was built around the various ways we could process tea and how it could be done correctly and incorrectly based on time and temperature. We were not told beforehand which was the correct and incorrect variables.
The goal for green tea is to “kill green” which is stopping the leaves from oxidating which preserves the green colour and vegetal taste. When talking about oxidation, think about biting into an apple, and it turning brown. The participants were all encouraged to step in and give processing a try, so I tried with steaming and pan frying.
For steaming, the leaves were placed inside a vegetable steamer. After steaming, the leaves were then cooled in an ice-water bath and put into a salad spinner to dry. Lastly, the leaves were rolled in large towels and left to dry. The correct time was steaming for 2 minutes whereas the mistake was 45 seconds because the leaves would oxidize. (The cover photo is of 2 mins).
As for pan frying, we used a large wok over a portable gas stove. The leaves were dried in the wok then rolled and shaped and left out in the open to dry. The two variables we were given was 5 and 10 minutes, with 10 minutes, technically being incorrect because the leaves would be too dry to roll.
I was given the “incorrect” instructions. However, I knew that it was incorrect, so I made sure to move the leaves quickly so they wouldn’t burn. I had some prior experience with pan fry when I was an intern at Kyoto Obubu Tea Farms and we had an event where we made tea with a large wok. I gave it my all nevertheless!
The other two methods were blanching/boiling and Sous Vide. I never thought of making tea in these manners, which does make sense with word “experimental” being in the title of the workshop. For boiling, it was very similar to steaming, but the leaves were blanched for one or two minutes. The ‘mistake’ was two minutes because the leaves would be too mushy.
Sous Vide required a bit more preparation. The leaves had to be vacuum sealed and then placed in a 156F sous vide. Since the leaves were not exposed to water, it only had to be cooled in an ice-water bath, then rolled/shaped, and dried. The two variables were 20 minutes and 10 minutes with 10 minutes being incorrect because the leaves would oxidized.
I liked the idea of Sous Vide because it was a pretty hands-off approach and it meant that the tea would be cooked evenly, in comparison to pan drying which requires the tea to be constantly moved to avoid burning the leaves.
Once all the teas were “completed” Jason and Timmy told us which tea was ‘correct’ and which one wasn’t. It was interesting to see the difference in time and temperature can make, even visually! To be honest none of our teas was really that “green” but I suppose that comes down to experience. Then all the leaves were put inside a bamboo dryer to rest overnight while Jason finished up the presentation about tea processing.
Exhibit Hall Floor
Since this was a half-day workshop, I headed over to the trade show floor. I saw a portion of the first American Tea Master Cup. Rei of Tea Curious was mixing up a storm! This was the first time this competition was held, so it was nice to see it in person. Nicole of Tea from me Please was also a judge.
While I always say I don’t have a favourite tea, if I had to pick a country, it would most likely be Japan since I have such a fond spot for it. The ceremony was conducted by Dr. Rebecca Corbett and the hostess was Rona Tison from ITO EN, North America. It brought me back to Japan! Rona was also a presenter from the Orgins Tasting Tour from Day 3.
After that, I decided to walk around the trade show and ran into Zhen and Phil from Zhen Tea! I don’t always get to chat with Zhen, so we walked around and talked about teas and gadgets (above is a “smart” gaiwan which would beep when the time was up) we saw. I also purchased Jane Pettigrew‘s book, World of Tea (which won Best Tea Publication). It was heavy but I was excited to buy it after meeting Jane during the Orgins Tasting Tour! I finished off the day by eating some filling dinner with friends.
It’s Not Easy Being Green: An Experimental Green Tea Processing Workshop (Day 2)
While this is Day 5 of my trip, this was also Day 2 of the green tea processing workshop! The teas were finished (with some extra work from Jason and Timmy) and we had a chance to taste them. Virginia came back (via phone call) to discuss how we taste and smell. While we were tasting, we also had a chance to smell some more chemical compounds found in tea. This is an area I am not familiar with, so I was excited to learn more.
Some good news is that the two batches I worked on, steamed and ‘incorrect’ pan-frying were successful with killing green! While I expected each tea to taste differently, there really was a vast range of flavours. Jason and Timmy said that the Sous Vide was the best example of the teas. What was great is we were all able to take a sample home. Next week I will be tasting them to compare now that they have had some time to settle. Tune in for that!
Exhibit Hall Floor
I knew I wanted to spend the rest of the time of the event looking at vendors. There was a wide range of things to see from new types of teas (tea made from avocado leaves) and products (a bottle with a twistable lid and leaves would fall out into the bottle and infuse). I generally I breezed through the vendors because many of them were wholesalers. But it was still nice to take everything in!
I ran into a handful of people such as Zhen and Phil (ZhenTea), Linda (theteastylist), Rita (rfongtea), Alex (alexahearn1), Sofie (tearistasofie), Michelle (beTea) and my Tea Blogger Round Table friends: Jo (Scandalous Tea), Rachel (I Heart Teas), Char (Oolong Owl), Sara (Tea Happiness), Daniela (Tea Cachai), Geoffrey (Steep Stories of the Lazy Literatus) and Nicole (Tea from me Please). I had such a blast!
Tea and Whisk
When I was walking around, I ran into a few Canadians who were taking the same flight as me back home. We decided to stick together and go for dinner then head over to Tea and Whisk where Rei was holding a tea event. I made some new friends and tasted more tea! It was the perfect way to end a long tea adventure in Las Vegas.
Event recaps like this always take a bit for me, because I like to reflect and then write. I am very glad I was able to go to the workshops and be on the panel! I had a lot of fun and learned many new things. Now if only I could find fresh tea leaves here in Canada!
During my time there, I focused more on the workshops because they appealed to me most. There was a range of business-focused sessions, but some of them can be quite a niche, for example, how to design a café. Not that that isn’t interesting, just not something that is in my realm of interest as a blogger. I also personally skimmed the Exhibition Hall floor because while there were vendors that sold to the public, many were either prototype products, manufacturing, or wholesalers.
That being said, since it is a trade show, it is business and wholesales focused. This event would be good for anyone looking to get into tea (like some of the people at my table during the Origins Tea Tasting) or someone who is already in the industry looking for connections. The event will be in Denver next year! See everyone there!
- Date: Monday, June 10 to Thursday, June 13
- Venue: Las Vegas Convention Center
- Company: World Tea Expo
The question of the Post: Which tea processing method would you like to try?
There were other bloggers who also did recaps! It is interesting to see how we all focused on different things:
I Heart Teas: World Tea Expo 2019: Two Worlds Collide
Tea Happiness: World Tea Expo 2019- Memorable Vendors
Oolong Owl: Hooty Tea Travels – 2019 World Tea Expo Highlights | Trends | Haul
Tea for Me Please: World Tea Expo 2019 – A Tea Blogger’s Perspective: Part 1 | Part 2
Next week will be Part 3 which will cover tasting the teas from the workshop! Make sure to catch up on Part 1 which covers Day 1 to 3!
Also, make sure to be following me on Instagram! I am going on a short trip to New York City this weekend!