Another great year, full of fun times, lots of tea, and friends old and new at the World Tea Expo!
This past week in Long Beach, California the specialty tea industry gathered for the annual trade show, educational conference, and gala awards dinner. On a personal note, it seems every year at the Tea Expo I get recognized by more and more people–some because they attended my presentation and want to chat about, some because we were in Tea Business Boot Camp together in 2013, and some friends and other acquaintances from years past. Each year it feels more familiar and increasingly like coming home.
It seems the teaware gets more interesting and beautiful every year. Some of it was functional, some colorful, others wacky and unexpected (tiger-shaped tea pot, anyone?)
But we can’t forget about the amazing teas! Fragrant blends, robust and subtle flavors, beautiful tea leaves–it’s like heaven in a cup. This year it seemed like there were 3 times the number of matcha companies that had previously exhibited; perhaps a testament to matcha’s meteoric rise in popularity. And drink matcha, I did! Along with white tea, herbal blends, and a 28- and 25-year gourd-aged oolong. About happy hour time, the best place to be was at the The Owl’s Brew booth for tea cocktails.
For me, speaking is always a highlight, particularly this year with 2 presentations. The first was on Starting a Tea Business, and the second was an improvement on last year’s Wellness Teas. If you’re looking for those powerpoint slide decks, email me.
With the educational presentations, I always, always learn something. I attended at least 5 edu sessions besides mine, and the ones that have stuck in my memory are Tea Salons, Qi Gong and Tea, and the Tea Meditation. Tea Salons was a presentation I dropped in on by chance when the one I wanted to attend was canceled and I found it incredibly educational. The pictures used in the slide deck were stunning and all the crafting the scene, choosing the teas, organizing the program, selecting a discussion topic, and presenting the tea snacks was incredibly fascinating; not to mention the speaker had such an engaging, passionate flow of knowledge and experience.
In the Qi Gong presentation the presenter blew everyone’s mind by reading Chinese poems, including ancient Chinese, and translating them. He went on to talk about the Chinese Medicine Compendium on Herbs and how it has multiple chapters on Camellia sinensis. He highlighted the value of tea in increasing glutathione (the key liver detoxifier), in increasing alertness, awakeness, and yet tranquility, and on reducing “fire” (aka inflammation). He talked beyond just the physiological benefits of consuming tea, noting the aromatic effects of tea in altering mood and increasing harmony, as well as the increased benefits if drunk consciously or meditatively.
Which, coincidentally, is exactly what the Tea Meditation focused on: mindfulness around drinking tea. The focus, relaxation, observant, patient, slow manner in which we felt the tea cup, noticed the aroma, and finally sipped the tea was an incredibly profound experience. It sparked ideas for me around using mindful tea meditation as a way to become fully engaged and present, and perhaps as a path to teach mindfulness around food in preventing overeating. So many potential applications. What a wonderful experience, Maria!
Certainly the Healthy Beverage Expo was missed this year as the show floor felt much smaller and I didn’t get my fill of kombucha and coconut water. But the World Tea Media Team did a good job organizing the event and keeping everyone informed of the fun happenings (did I mention the Japanese tea ceremony?!) after former director George Jage moved on to a new career.
I’m so grateful to have been able to attend, with my mom, no less, just before Mother’s Day. 🙂 And I’m looking forward to next year returning to Vegas for more tea, education, and of course, friend time!
World Tea Expo, see you in June 2016!