World Tea Expo 2019
Last month, World Tea Expo opened its doors in Las Vegas once again and this time eighty degrees proudly and excitedly took part too! This being our first tea expo, our expectations were high, but we could not have imagined how euphoric the reality would be!
In case you haven’t already heard about it, World Tea Expo (WTE) is the biggest annual tea convention in the Americas, with 3,000 international participants from over 50 countries, 80+ exhibitors, and a series of talks and educational sessions. One can learn about a wide variety of topics from how to start a tea business, to how to taste tea or learn about trends and catch up on the latest industry news.
eighty degrees magazine participated as an exhibitor with its own booth right in the centre of the exhibition floor. Walking up and down the aisles lined with companies from all around the world, from tea makers, to producers, teaware brands and publications, we could really see and appreciate the excitement and passion for tea.
The enthusiasm our magazine received was overwhelming. Many people who already knew eighty degrees just came by to say hello, whilst others only discovered it there and then and many got quite smitten by it! The absolute highlight for us was making connections with our diehard fans and industry legends.
We caught up with our dear friend Shunan Teng from Tea Drunk, who was an expo speaker on two topics: Origins Tasting Tour in China and Riches in Niches — a business seminar on how to build a successful tea business.
We brushed shoulders with our very early supporters who had believed in us right from the beginning, such as Will Battle, author of the industry heavyweight The World Tea Encyclopaedia and The Many Faces of Tea article in issue one of eighty degrees magazine.
We also had the pleasure of finally meeting Rie Tulali, a passionate educator, local in Vegas, who put together that popular and very informative article Leaves and Hot Water telling us about how to not ruin our tea with the wrong type of water — also published in issue one of eighty degrees.
We met Jane Pettigrew, the author of a new tea book — World of Tea, which won the Best Tea Book award, and Sharyn Johnston of the Australian Tea Masters and a speaker on Origins Tasting Tour in Korea — both amazing specialists, full of invaluable knowledge and enthusiasm to spread the word about tea.
Staying tea sober at such an event is a tough task as each booth offers samples of their teas and hopes to catch your eye and taste buds with their products. Fortunately, WTE provided ceramic cups for each attendee to keep and carry with them for all the wonderful tea tastings, making a simple but impactful step towards sustainability.
Apart from giving out awards to various categories, including the Lifetime Achievement Awards (awarded to Manik Jayakumar of QTrade Teas & Herbs), Best Specialty Tea Brand (TeaSource), and Best Tea Blog (Tony Gebely), this year was the first time WTE, together with the American Specialty Tea Alliance, held the first U.S. national qualifying round of the Tea Masters Cup.
All in all, it was 3 days packed with talks, seminars, meetings and wonderful experiences that not only showcased the direction the industry is taking, but also forged connections that would otherwise not have been made.
Our special thanks goes to Aaron Kiel, Samantha Hammer and Erica Horn who made this possible for us, as well as our booth neighbours Josephine, Tom and Sam from JT&T, who supplied us with their amazing, freshly brewed wulongs all day long.
Still reminiscing here, looking forward to Denver in June next year for WTE 2020!