My next opportunity to explore the “tea world” was the 2014 World Tea Expo in Long Beach, CA. Like everyone I’ve talked to outside of the tea world, I had never heard of the World Tea Expo. Tea vendors, tea store owners and students like me come from all over the world to attend the Expo. I found out that company hosting the expo also offers a full day Tea Business Boot Camp and full day World Origin Tasting Tour. I figured that if I wanted to learn about the business of tea I needed to jump in with both feet and signed up for both classes and the Expo.
For the Tea Business Boot Camp, they brought in speakers from the trenches of the tea industry: tea buyers with dozen of years of experience, the founder of a group tea stores who had just raised millions in capital to open more stores, an accountant who specialized in tea startups, a tea store owner who served tea to First Lady Michelle Obama (and had sat in our seats at the boot camp three years ago), and many more.
The next day was the World Origin Tasting Tour, and we spent all day learning about teas from 8 countries from experts on each country and then tasting 3-4 teas from each country (China, Sri Lanka, Korea, India, Kenya, Japan, Nepal, and Taiwan). My taste buds were numb at the end of that day.
On the third day the Expo itself started, I went around to dozens of tea vendors’ booths, tasting their tea and exchanging contact information. I also visited with companies specializing in tea accessories (tea pots, mugs, infusers, tins, etc.). On the plane ride home my head was swimming with ideas and I was in a tea coma for a couple of days after that.