World Tea Expo 2012 - Recap
By Cynthia Fazekas
Zealong booth at WTE
Suitcase full o'leaves!
Tea professionals gathered in early June in Las Vegas for the 10th World Tea Expo. Show and industry veterans reminisced and waxed poetic about the show and evolution of the US tea industry.
New to the show was Argo Tea. A tea café originating in Chicagoland, they have been in the tea biz since 2003. Steadily growing their café concept, they were showing their line of Argo branded bottled teas perhaps poised to build brand awareness via the ever popular RTD iced tea arena. You can read more about Argo Tea here.
Takeya USA, a division of a Japanese company of the same name also exhibited their colorful, attractive tea wares. Their fun and functional wares such as their teapots and iced tea jugs make brewing with flavorful, premium leaves easy peasy.
Zealong! For you New Zealand oolong lovers out there, Zealong was exhibiting again this year and kind enough to brew their Pure and Dark oolongs for us. This taster's past personal favorite has always been the Aromatic, but the Pure and Dark are starting to catch up to their more complex sister tea. The Dark especially caught my palate has having gained complexity with this year's harvest. Sweet honey and delicate fruit nuances whispered and lingered after each sip. Kudos to their progress!
In other oolong offerings, we were fortunate to be located kitty-corner across from Mountain Tea Co. Their Li Shan delighted our taste buds as did their roasted Ti Kuan Yin. Periodically, the very kind proprietor, Chicco, would bring his wonderful brews to us in our booth. New tea friends with benefits!
Thistledown Cozies, makers of various tea accessories and even guy-friendly teapot cozies (Check out the HOB here), came by our booth to show us her latest items. It is a padded zippered caddy to go, with small tins for your leaves and a section to hold an infuser mug. We always look for great ways to bring tea on the road, and think they are really on to something. The fabric pattern was super cute, gender neutral and the design functional.
Also eye-catching were the attractive, hand made cherry wood tea infusers by Tea Tangent . They offer tea caddies, tea scoops, and tea tongs in addition to the infusers. A Pennsylvania based company, their Bee Sticks for honey appear to be as affective at drizzling as at spreading. Mmmm... tea and toast with honey!
Due to a proliferation of sample sharing, my suitcase morphed into a tea trunk, worthy of a trip to Asia. Packed with samples from eager tea growers, clothing and other essentials had to be relegated to the now unzipped, expansion portion of my suitcase. Notably, a generously large (perhaps a full pound) container of tea was presented from Surya of the Wah Tea Estate. Cupped on my first day back in Connecticut, the silky smooth cup sung songs of its origin in the foothills of the Himalayas. Darjeeling-like but with a slightly different essence, it was reminiscent of a fine Nepalese grown leaf. Also in my 'trunk' are various samples from Japan, Korea, Kenya, India and a couple of love notes from TSA. Apparently, my leaves inspired three searches. First, cupping our 2012 China samples takes priority, but soon I'll be delving into these beauties.
Lastly, congratulations and sincere thanks to Kim and George Jage for ten years of congregating the US tea industry at the World Tea Expo. Thank you for all the contacts and tea friends. Never in my early days did I dream there were so many people who shared a passion for tea.