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Beyond the Leaf

  • World Tea Expo, Day 1 recap

    World Tea Expo Yesterday was the first day of the World Tea Expo here in Las Vegas. As pureblooded Minnesotans, going from 65 degree weather in Minneapolis to 100 degree weather here was a bit of a shock to the system. We're expecting a high of 111 degrees on Saturday, 40 degrees warmer than the expected high in Minneapolis. Luckily, we're inside a huge convention center with air conditioning, so we've managed to remain cool. [caption id="attachment_77" align="alignleft" width="182"]Golden Dragon, from the Guangxi province in China Golden Dragon, China[/caption] TeaSource, however, is HOT. Bill spent Friday morning teaching a class on the reality of opening a brand new tea shop (with most of the class based on opening our Eden Prairie store). While Bill was teaching, Michael and I readied the booth for the day which meant brewing 4 different teas and adjusting the final details of our display. As I said, our booth was popular, and day one of the Expo was one of the busiest days we've ever had at a trade show. The show opened officially at 11am, but we had people stopping by as early as 10 to say hello, and the rush didn't let up until 5:30 when the show closed for the day. We met hundreds of people from all over the world and were excited to share our knowledge and passion with everyone who stopped by. We are sampling a variety of teas at our booth, focusing on 100 Taels Dark Tea Cake, Dark Rose Tea, and Blue Beauty Oolong (which recently took home 2nd place in the North American Tea Championships). We we are also featuring a rotating Taiwanese tea at the top of every hour, which meant people came back every hour to try a different tea. Bill also stepped out for an hour to feature Golden Dragon and our 1999 Green Puerh Cake at the North American Tea Championships Winner's Tasting Circle. No shortage of tea samples from us! We have also made a big splash with our brand new Taste Tea Cupping Journal. I came up with the idea for the cupping journal after my first World Tea Expo last year. I wanted a tool for myself to help me keep track of the teas I tried, but it has probed to be a useful tool for others as well. Already there are almost 200 cupping journals making their way around the Expo floor! I couldn't be more proud of our cupping journal. TeaSource TasteTea Cupping Journal If you're at the World Tea Expo, stop by Booth #400 to sample our teas and pick up you're own Taste Tea Cupping Journal (if you haven't already grabbed one). Bill, Michael, and I are looking forward to meeting you! If you're not in Las Vegas, we'll make sure we enjoy the hot weather for you, though we're secretly looking forward to more mild temperatures. Check back tomorrow morning for a recap of Saturday's fun! -Timothy Otte Assistant Wholesale Manager
    Tags: Travelogue

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  • Taiwan Ambassador Visit

    Thomas ShuWe were very grateful for the opportunity on May 6th to have Taiwanese Tea Ambassador, Thomas Shu, visit the Twin Cities for an evening course on Taiwanese oolongs.  As anyone who has ever spent time with Thomas knows, you’re not just getting a world class tea education, but a chance to share in the deep and genuine love of a beverage that has been with his family for generations. I was lucky enough to join Thomas in Taiwan in 2011 on one of his annual oolong study tours.  I learned quickly that his talks and teachings, unwittingly and without fail, end up being interspersed with history, personal musings, and even singing – all of which are sincere and sure to charm even the harshest cynic.  He insisted we learn the songs too, and tried to teach us.  The words I have lost, but the melodies I still hum. Tea with Thomas ShuHis visit to Minnesota reminded me that some things go unchanged because they are simply true.  Always happy to have an audience, Thomas jovially walked us through the various styles of Taiwanese oolong, from Pouchong to Oriental Beauty to Baked Ti Kwan Yin to Brandy Oolong (wonderfully complete with all the tangents mentioned above).  As the evening progressed, our un-expecting guests slowly realized this was not going to be an academic lecture on definitive methods, but rather an invitation into a world not often seen (or tasted) from this side of the Pacific - a culture where tea is ingrained into both the toil and philosophy, as evidenced by Thomas’ ever-present smile, patience, and good humor.  It’s his own pleasant way of effectively passing on the teaching that we should use all of our senses to experience tea, and how to use those senses in making decisions on how to prepare, assess, and enjoy it.  In America, it has been my experience that we seem to like very specific and rigid instructions on how to prepare our food, and employ these same tendencies when making tea.  In Taiwan, I saw only scientists use tools other than a teapot.  Everyone else just used their own experience – something much richer and more valuable that goes to the heart of the lesson:  There is no right or wrong.  Be present, trust your senses, share if possible, and enjoy.

    TeaSource and Thomas Shu

    Thank you to everyone who was able to attend.  I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did.  If you were not there for it, check out our full photo album of Thomas' events on Facebook. -Michael Lannier TeaSource manager For more information about Taiwan oolongs click here
    Tags: Happenings

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  • Visiting Puer China

    Hi, I've just recently arrived in Puer, Yunnan province, China as a member of U.S. trade mission and industry group. While here I will be attending the International China Tea and Puer Convention.  I am here as a representative of the U.S. tea industry with a few other tea professionals from various countries and the U.S. In addition to being a great opportunity to learn about puer tea, this hopefully will be a great chance to develop new sources for puer and other Yunnan teas, which I can buy direct from source. While I am here in Yunnan I will try to post more frequently and let folks know what's happening here. Bill Below:  We were wonderfully greeted at the Puer airport as we arrived. 20130526-055749.jpg 20130526-055722.jpg
    Tags: Travelogue

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  • Welcome!

    Welcome to my blog about tea and TeaSource and whatever (hence the subtitle “Mutterings of a Tea Merchant").  I know there are a ton of blogs out there nowadays, and if I were in your shoes I would be wondering a few things... Why is Bill Waddington doing this? Because my employees (and customers) have strongly been encouraging me do it.  My employees are constantly tugging at me-trying to drag me into the 21st century.  Whereas my natural tendency is to go back in time-I think I would be very comfortable in the mid-19th century- think clipper ships full of tea. When folks ask my political leanings, I sometimes respond “Luddite.”  But I’ve come to the conclusion, after much persuasion by employees and many requests by customers (which totally astounds me), that they are right.   A blog has the potential to be a great way to yak about and educate about tea. Who the heck is Bill Waddington and what is TeaSource? If you were expecting a blog about birding or biology/micro-evolution, you’ve stumbled across the wrong Waddington.  But stick around; one of my goals with this blog is to have fun. I am Bill Waddington and I founded TeaSource in 1996.   TeaSource is a specialty tea company (as opposed to most of what you find on your local grocery shelves).   A good analogy is: think of TeaSource as a wine store vs. buying Mogen David or Gallo from your local convenience store.   My job is to find the best teas in the world (at various price levels) and bring them back to the U.S. An informal statement of our philosophy might be: We take tea very seriously; we don’t take ourselves too seriously. What should I expect from this blog and should I not expect from this blog? In general I will be blogging about what it is like to be a tea merchant (this seems to be what people are interested in).   Under that overall heading many different topics may fall:
    • What I do, on a regular or exceptional basis
    • What TeaSource does, again on a regular or exceptional basis
    • I would love for folks to get to know TeaSource a bit: our philosophy, our employees, our activities etc.
    • Anecdotes, tidbits, educational stuff, mutterings, about the world of tea.   This may include some guest blogging and some stuff that may seem far afield, but the world of tea is a vast and one of my strongest goals is to give folks some unvarnished insight into that world.
    • Serious tea geek stuff/info/data/other resources about tea
    My intent is to make this blog casual, fun, informative, engaging, and interesting.  I will try to have at least one posting per week, sometimes more; hopefully on Mondays (travel and personal life permitting). You should not expect a lot of promotion/marketing from this blog.   That’s not the point.   If you want to be kept up to date on promotions, discounts, sales etc. I would strongly suggest you sign up for our email newsletter and/or visit our website. I may make quick mentions of relevant promotions or links to specific teas that I may be writing about, but I won’t spend much time on that kind of thing. Are there any kind of guidelines, rules, or parameters to this blog? Yep, treat other people the way you wish to be treated. Comments are welcome.  But common courtesy and civility are the guiding principles; and this applies to all postings, comments, and even to the language and word choice used on this blog and in comments.   If in doubt, you can always phrase things as you would if you were speaking to your grandmother.   Deletion of comments or banning of commenters would be at my discretion, if the above guidelines aren’t followed. Overall we are trying to be informative, have fun, and increase everyone’s insights and access to the world of tea. -Bill
    Tags: Tea Basics

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