We are pretty comfortable being called tea geeks. I’ve been serious about tea for around 35 years and TeaSource is nearing its twentieth birthday. We recently spent a week at the World Tea Expo (the WTE is the world’s largest international specialty tea exposition-for the industry, not open to the public). At this year’s WTE I was teaching (or co-teaching) five classes/workshops. Sharing knowledge is a fundamental value of TeaSource. It is what many older (and wiser) tea men did with me over the last 35 years, and that is a major reason TeaSource has had some success. So I try to share knowledge with others: customers and new folks coming into the industry. At the WTE, I started by teaching a class to 70 folks wanting to get into the specialty tea business.
I had the good fortune to teach a tea tasting workshop with Rajiv Gupta on Darjeeling teas (see previous post). This workshop was especially rewarding because the class was composed of other tea professionals. I also did two demonstrations and tastings of Indian Milk Tea: what it is and how to make it. This was great fun. Since Indian milk tea is pretty much an everyman tea in India, most of the hundreds of people attending the WTE (except the Indians) had never heard of it (we tea geeks tend to focus on the fancier teas). We had a great time doing it and it was wonderful hearing so many people go “Yum!” Then we did a 2 day class on tea processing; where we fly in next-day-air, fresh tea leaves from Hawaii, and proceed to make black tea, 2 types of oolong tea, 2 types of green tea, and white tea. And every one of them turned out nice.
And at our booth, we had the opportunity to re-connect with lots of long-time (and some new) suppliers and customers. A lot of hugging going on. Up to this point it was a typical WTE for TeaSource. And then TeaSource was awarded the first ever “BEST TEA BUSINESS” award by vote of the attendees and the exhibitors of the World Tea Expo, ie. our industry peers. To say I was unprepared for this would be an understatement. I’m very humbled by this recognition. And I’m convinced that the main reason we received this award is because of our wonderful customers (both wholesale and retail), our incredible employees, our amazing suppliers (the men and women who grow and make our tea), and ultimately the men and women who have taught and inspired me over the last 35 years. I thank you all from the bottom of my heart.