Another Tea Sample? – World Tea Expo Day #1

It’s been about a week since we have been back from the Expo. We meaning myself and my husband Ralph. It’s been an interesting week at that just trying to see if I can’t put my thoughts together onto virtual paper.  This was our first exclusively tea Expo and I feel we saw and learned so much that the idea of putting together a blog post became a bit overwhelming.

On a personal note, many of you know that the week prior to actually departing for the Expo was a bit mentally and physically challenging time for us. Fortunately things are getting better on the family front.  What I mean by that is my dad’s health is improving dramatically every day.  As a matter of fact my dad was released released from the hospital the day prior to our leaving for Las Vegas and because he was doing so much better it made our trip that much more pleasurable.

Let me set the scene,  a week before leaving my dad had a massive heart attack but now is doing much better. Next, this was also the first trip that both my husband and I were taking out-of-state without our five year old daughter.  Another huge obstacle for me and her considering I’m a stay-at-home mom and being always around was sort of my thing.  It was hard for me to let go.  Not so much my husband since he travels a great deal for work anyway.  For example, he’s in the Bahamas right now as I type this. So anyway I just wanted wanted to lay down a foundation so you knew my mental state prior to leaving, that’s the end of that and now off to the World Tea Expo.

I think my husband would best describe my attitude as extremely giddy.  I was about to come face-to-face with what I would call utopia. Just imagine a microcosm comprised entirely of tea, tea accessories, tea education, tea fanatics, from all around the world.  Reminds me of that daydream where you are wandering through streets of candy, where the houses are built of chocolate but in my case, steeped in tea.

I knew once I arrived it would just be a whirlwind adventure full of meeting new friends and old, learning new things, seeing new products, a veritable cornucopia of tea goodness.

I will say I was on a mission to find some really good friends of mine. Friends that I’ve made through social media, such as Twitter, Google+, Tea Trade, and Steepster.  Funny, I remember as a child I used to have pen-pals.  How times have changed, still my friendships through social media are just as strong if not stronger than those that I’ve made by way of traditional methods.

It was an extreme pleasure to meet Jo also known on Twitter as @agiftoftea. It was like in the movies.  Our eyes met and in slow motion we ran to each other as I imagined Chariots of Fire playing in the background.  Truly an epic moment. No, wait dare I say it… “Legend…wait for it…dary” – Barney Stinson from “How I Met Your Mother” moment.  Similar moment happened yet again when I got to meet Katrina also known as @TeaPages on Twitter.  We had near chance meetings on several occasions and I finally we had the opportunity meet in person, it was just like meeting an old friend.

By this time it was still earlier on Friday, the first day of the expo and what a way to start.  However, even before then I went to my first lecture regarding how to “Find Gold In Green Markets” by Dan Robertson Owner/Director of The Tea House & World Tea Tours. The lecture covered key points on how to best be successful at farmers markets, what to look for, how to pack, how to present, and more.  I felt reassured that much of the information being covered was what I had already known.  Still it does make me feel better hearing that from someone as experienced as him.

After getting a good start to my morning I spent the rest of the day on the show floor. I got to see many of the vendors I’ve been wanting to see including some very unique vendors.  I will get more into more details about the specifics of exactly what I saw, what I found intriguing, and what I would like to get involved with in my next blog post.  Right now I just wanted to be able to set a foundation as to what this Expo has been for me.

So far I can say this Expo for me was mostly about networking.  Of course, included in that is learning about new products.  Plus a rather pleasant surprise, I learned what sort of footprint I’ve left within the community without even realizing.

In one of my other blog posts I’ll go more into detail about those wonderful tea education courses I was able to take thanks entirely to Beth and Neumann of Teas Etc.  I was one of two lucky winners that won $400 to spend tea education courses.  Thank you so much again Beth and Neumann.

After a long day on the Expo floor and many tea samples later, it was time for our Tweet-Up that was so graciously put together by Jo.  It was such a great experience meeting all the people that I’ve been talking to on Twitter for such a long time including Naomi from Joys Teaspoon @JoysTeaspoon and her two other friends and associates Sarah @oolongofficer, and Audrea @EarlSteeper.  Also, had the pleasure of meeting Chris Giddings @Teaity and @chrisagiddings, Lisa @LisaBraithwaite, and of course Jo and Katrina as mentioned.  I do hope I didn’t forget anyone.  My husband Ralph @ralphcarterii also joined us.  He was kind enough to make sure we had hot water and tea during our meeting.  Tea was provided by Teas Etc.  Beth and Neumann were kind enough to come to rescue with some delicious Oriental Beauty oolong, a Zojirushi that Ralph guarded with his life, and T-Sac’s when we found out Lochan Teas supply of teas never arrived at the Expo.  Thanks again for everything.  The best part of the tweet up is that we finally got a chance to sit down have general conversation regarding our likes and dislikes at the Expo, some interesting finds, and just general catching up.  I was meeting everyone face to face for the first time so there was a lot of catching for me.  Towards the end we had great conversation about what we should do as bloggers at next years Expo.  I feel confident we are going in the right direction with some of these ideas but until I can confirm we are going forward with the plan I won’t be sharing the details.  Just know it is a great idea, includes the collective powers of bloggers and retailers and hopefully in the end will bring forth a cornucopia of new rich information.

Once the tweet up was over we all decided to head back to the expo floor and witness the Wu-Yu Tea Ceremony.  It was a beautiful ceremony where the person who prepares the tea is to be silent and the person receiving the tea is also silent during the entire ceremony.  There were many participants and from what I understand all spots for the ceremony were filled.  It was so beautiful to see all these people who didn’t even know each other, maybe some did but others didn’t, just graciously offer a stranger a cup of tea with sincere smile.

Now the day had ended I was ready to head back to the hotel with sore feet, sore knee and a full bladder.  Totally worth it.

I suspect I will have many entries regarding the Expo some more technical and some more personal I hope you enjoy them all.

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