World Tea Expo here in Long Beach has been a blast! From the moment James Norwood Pratt cut the ribbon, it’s been an action packed expo. There were a few stand-out exhibitors and sessions that are worth mentioning but the best part about these events is being together with thousands of fellow tea-lovers. I cover some of my favorite things from the expo below. To see more photos and happenings, check out my Instagram feed.

The Need for Standards in Specialty Tea

A much anticipated panel moderated by Austin Hodge starring Dan Bolton, Kevin Gascoyne, Jennifer English, Elyse Petersen, and Anshuman Kanoria. This lively panel discussed the need (or not) for standards in the tea industry. What became evident throughout the discussion is that we need definitions first, and first up… “specialty tea.” What is it? Is everything that people call “specialty tea” special? Nope. Follow the progress of this project here: Website. (Photo Credit: The Tea Kings)

Sharp Tea-Ceré

This machine grinds tencha then whisks it. Yes, this is an automatic matcha machine. I was leary of the machine when I first saw it, but it’s pretty darn cool. The grind is perfect, it turned the tencha into a very fine and smooth powder. This is accomplished with a ceramic grinding wheel. The wheel was warm to the touch after grinding but not hot enough to affect the matcha. Its $300 price tag wasn’t bad either. If I had one of these I would be grinding all sorts of teas! See it in action here.

Colombian Black Tea

Bitaco is a line of orthodox teas from a 60 year old tea garden in La Cumbre, Colombia. The plants originally came from Sri Lanka and are a mix of Sinensis and Assamica. Their black tea really surprised me, the mix of varieties used keeps the taste very dynamic, but there are distinct notes of muscat grape and honey. Website.

The Organoleptic Experience of Tea

This workshop was run by Donna Fellman (Online Education Manager, World Tea Academy) and Virginia Utermohlen (Associate Professor, Cornell University). It was a great workshop on how your sensory systems interact with the molecules in tea. This was an experiential class and there were some really cool experiments and tastings peppered throughout the 3 hour workshop. My favorite was the use of a miniscule amount of salt to remove the astringency in an over-steeped green tea.

Featured image courtesy of: