Impressions from the World Tea Expo

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With anticipation and expectations we went to this years World tea expo in Long Beach, CA. I had a few things on my list to explore, find or discover.  Knowing little about the exhibitors we had to wander the aisles, visit with many different vendors, try countless cups of tea and have new accoutrements explained to us.  As much as it was fun, it was also tiring and eventually you had to stop tasting, talking and listening.

My first impressions at the World Tea Expo: great new innovations in tea brewing, be they machines with futuristic looks to brew the perfect cup of tea to go via an app on a tablet or newly designed to go cups (next generation Tea Tigers).  Some of the machines seem to be in the starting phases of operations and, besides the high cost, attempt to make tea making into a science.  For our tea needs at the shop, the glass tea pot, tea leaves and steeping time will suffice for now – as we still enjoy the brewing process as part of the relaxing ritual that preparing a cup of tea provides. To be honest, some of the “machine operators” seemed a little stressed while demonstrating the new process…!

One of the questions on my list was checking in with representatives of tea suppliers to inquire about the safety of Japanese teas, especially since we had not heard much about the after effects of the Fukushima disaster.  I got a very detailed answer from the lady at the ITO En booth.  I came away assured, that we will not be adversely affected with any chance of radiation in tea – a very remote likelihood.  The Japanese agricultural officials are keeping a steady and strict eye on what is leaving the country, and our suppliers are double checking readings of the imported teas.  She felt there are more dangers with the exposure to the radiation from our cell phones than from the tea we are drinking!

Some booths hosted representatives of small tea gardens or co-ops from Nepal, Kenya, and China that started a more sustainable and supportive farming practice to help all small tea gardens to work together to process the harvested tea in their own plant to earn more money than selling the leaves to a larger processing plant. They are learning to become artisans in processing to fulfill the need of the farmers involved. These are not fair trade certified operations, they came up with the model and are supporting themselves without international sanctioned laws.  The Kenyan tea booth was also very impressive, though their teas are all CTC, the women make the packaging for the tea leaves with hand painted, African designs. The money earned with their innovation goes back to employ more people and pay for schooling for their children.  That just goes to show you, that people left to their own devices, come up with amazing solutions on how to support themselves and their families.

All in all it was a very informative trip, that will give us some exciting new products this summer and new teas to taste. Stay tuned through our social media and blogs about the timing of new product availability at Sereni-tea and stop by for a taste.

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