Thursday, July 12, 2018

World Tea Expo 2018 Day Two

Day Two at the World Tea Expo was a bit of a blur with a lengthy roundtable session sandwiched between whirlwind trips through the Exhibit Hall. 

Tea Bloggers Roundtable

This year marked the 6th anniversary of the Tea Bloggers Roundtable which has been a great opportunity for bloggers to connect and compare notes and for people in the tea industry to learn best practices for collaboration with bloggers.  

Jo Johnson (Scandalous Tea) was the emcee and kicked off the event by answering one of the most frequently asked questions, "Is there money to be made in tea blogging?"  The answer, quite simply, is no.  The sole perk to writing about tea is that you get to drink a lot of tea. ...and you get to meet a lot of great people who also drink a lot of tea.

The panelists introduced themselves and talked briefly about their blogging styles and focus.

From left to right:
Gary Robson (Tea with Gary), Char Gascho (Oolong Owl), Geoffrey Norman (Steep Stories of the Lazy Literatus), Ricardo Caicedo (My Japanese Green Tea), Anna Mariani (Tea Squirrel), Sarah Shackett (Tea Happiness), Rachel Carter (iHeartTeas)

Introductions were followed by a screening of award-winning documentary, The Tea Explorer featuring Jeff Fuchs.  Attendees were encouraged to take notes and, following the screening, share how this film could be presented on a blog.  In case I don't get around to providing a formal review on my blog, I will say now that this was a solid introduction to tea at the origin as well as how deeply the Ancient Tea Horse Road influenced the lives, traditions, and history of the people that lived along that famous trade route.  The documentary isn't steeped in minutiae or jargon, but it also doesn't dumb things down.  As a tea enthusiast, I found it fascinating and I believe it has appeal for those with a casual interest in tea.


This year I encountered so many people and businesses from the Pacific Northwest at the Expo that it felt like I brought a little piece of home with me.

CC Fine Teas (Bellevue, Washington) showcased their Smacha Signature Auto Tea Brewer alongside their fine teas.  I've seen the auto brewer in use at tea tastings and in restaurants and it's a reliable (and aesthetically pleasing) piece of equipment.  Owner and tea master Jason Chen was on site and is arguably more camera shy than myself (an impressive feat). 

Japanese Green Tea (Portland, Oregon) offered tastings of their mikan and lemon green teas, both of which were the result of a collaboration with high school students and a tea farm in Shizuoka.  It was a pleasure to finally meet founder Kei Nishida in person!

First Leaves Tea (Bellevue, Washington) introduced their line of sencha from Shizuoka.

Ito En introduced the newest flavor to their Oi Ocha line of bottled tea, Matcha Green Tea made with matcha from Uji.  Even in Japan where the selection is borderline overwhelming, I rarely buy bottled tea.  I make an exception here at home with the Oi Ocha line because there's no sweetener or flavoring and they taste exactly like I would expect the cold brewed tea to taste.  This particular tea tasted like chilled matcha, boldly green and moderately astringent while also being sweet and a bit savory.  

Boseong Woonhae Tea Plantation returned with their tasty green and black teas. 

Formay provided a tasting of their magnolia tea.

Boseong Jeda presented a lovely tea service.  If you're looking for an unique tea tourism experience, visit Boseong County in South Korea where everything is about tea, and Boseong Jeda in particular for their spectacular viewpoint overlooking the tea fields and tea making experiences.  

Bohyang Tea introduced their line of tea jams (preserves) that is due to hit the US market in the next couple months.  Judging by the sample I tasted, I'm going to need to stock up.

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