By Judy Thorburn
Owner/Editor in Chief/writer - Las Vegas Round The Clock
Owner/Editor in Chief/writer - The Flick Chicks
Director of Communications - Nevada Film Alliance
Tea Professionals Convene at 2010 World Tea Expo
The annual World Tea Expo took place June 11 – 13 at the Las Vegas Convention Center. During the three days over 5,000 industry professionals convened in the city to focus on the latest trends, best new products, services and wares in the $7 billion specialty tea industry. More than 200 exhibits displayed more than 100 new products at this year's show with many first timers and returning exhibitors launching new tea blends, tea ware, books and flavors to create the most “tasteful” tea experience possible.
George Jage,The World Tea Media president, said "This was our best show yet. The show saw an approximate 30-percent increase in attendance compared to last year, according to initial estimates. Exhibitor re-sign was at a record high, indicating exhibitors were as energized by the show as attendees.
During an invitation-only party at the Hilton Ballroom, tea industry members toasted the winners of the 2010 North American Tea Championship Iced Tea Class competition.
Art of Tea was among the winners for the fourth time in a row, taking trophies for its Petal Pedal and Passion Fruit Jasmine blends.
Among the 10 companies winning first-place awards were five newcomers to the competition, the result of changes made to the contest this year which opened it to all North American companies that have a certain amount of tea inventory.
Among those receiving their first awards was New Leaf Brands. Marketing Manager Angela Lamendola said "We're honored to be recognized, but not surprised. The natural flavors we use speak for themselves."
Scott Svihula, tea smith for China Mist Brands, another first-time winner, enthused, "I love it! I'm excited." Although he said he believed China Mist would win in one of the categories, he was pleased that one of its top-selling flavors took an award.
World Tea Media, organizer of the Tea Championship, announced winners last week, following independent tasting and rating of the 80 entrants, which took place May 18 at the Wilbur Curtis Corporate Headquarters in Montebello, Calif.
Companies that received first-place trophies were Adagio Teas, ITO EN, China Mist Brands, New Leaf Brands, The Republic of Tea, Rishi Tea, S&D Coffee, Shangri-La Tea Company, TeaGschwendner and True Brew. Of those, five – China Mist, New Leaf, The Republic of Tea, S&D Coffee and True Brew – had never before won in the competition.
The full list of winners is published at www.TeaChampionship.com.
In addition to the hundreds of teas and tea products, the Expo featured the following winners of the World Tea Expo 2010 New Product Awards:
Accessories category: Tea Squeeze, Silicone Tea Squeeze
Baked Goods category: Botanical Bakery, Ginger Squared Garden Shortbread Cookies
Innovation category: The Tea Spot, ecosteep
Open Class: Thistledown Cozies, The Hob
Packaging category: Ajiri Tea Company, Ajiri Tea
Publication category: International Tea Importers, "James Norwood Pratt's Tea Dictionary – First Edition"
Tea as an Ingredient category (tie): The Green Teaist, Hojicha Gelee; and Glenburn Tea Direct, Glenburn Therapy
Tea Ware category (tie): Takeya, Tea Maker; and Benaya by Axicon, Benaya by AxiconTea Set
Winners can be found online at World Tea Expo's Web site, where tea enthusiasts can see all of the 100-plus new products that were on display at the Expo, including new tea blends, ready-to-drink teas and more.
Photo credit: Stephen Thorburn