One of the biggest stories in the world tea trade is the choice of Las Vegas, Nevada, as the host for the 2016 World Tea Expo. Industry movers and shakers will head to the North American capitalism capital from June 15 through 17 for one the world’s largest gatherings devoted exclusively to tea.
An action-packed three-day event that features conferences, Q and A sessions with experts, demonstrations, formal tastings, tea ceremony exhibits, and hundreds of vendors from around the world, the annual get-together is the most anticipated confab for tea enthusiasts everywhere.
Matcha tea looks to figure prominently at this year’s expo due to its current “media darling” status around the world and in the marketing departments of major tea producers and sellers the world over. Matcha tea sellers and makers are expected to be on hand at the expo to answer questions and engage in various panel discussions with attendees.
With two days of “pre-conference” events planned, the expo ends up being a five-day extravaganza that includes workshops and business-enhancement forums, educational classroom discussions, an unveiling of new tea products and multiple presentations by industry leaders about “what the new trends in tea” are. Tea-centered businesses looking to boost their bottom lines or expand their company’s offerings are the backbone of the expo. A wide range of business-related topics are set for forums, Q and A sessions, and formal presentations.
Foodservice businesses, retailers, product development specialists, and international distributors will be attending special programs that focus on tea-and-food pairing, geographic tea studies, tastings, and cultural tea styles. Each of these presentations lasts 90 minutes, while the more open-ended workshops feature expert speakers on topics like cupping, running a tea business, and how to blend tea.
Education for business owners
There are six components in this year’s “business education” conference series at the expo. Designed specifically for distributors, retailers and developers, the events are built around those with all levels of experience in the industry.
Anyone intent on starting a retail tea business will be attending the Tea Business Boot Camp, which includes what expo organizers call the “World Origin Tasting Tour,” a virtual global tour that makes stops at the eight key “tea origin” regions of the world. Each stop is designed to explain the culture of that specific region and discuss the various ways that tea is viewed in each culture.
The Core Conference Seminars help attendees build a deeper knowledge base about tea trends in the retail marketplace. The seminars include panel discussions where anyone can ask an expert presenter about a particular topic area.
On the show floor
In addition to the business-oriented sessions and presentations, the show floor of the Las Vegas Convention Center will be a bustling hive of activity, featuring hundreds of vendors who will be showing the newest tea-related products and services, as well as unique informational booths and tea-tasting tents where anyone can take a break and enjoy a cup of their favorite beverage, tea or otherwise.
One of this year’s expo highlights will be a program called “World Tea Academy,” a live presentation about how one can acquire international certification as a tea sommelier. It covers all the protocols, requirements and other things potential sommeliers need to know in order to begin their journey toward certification.
Companies and experts
More than 50 countries are already set to be represented in this year’s expo, including representatives from some of the world’s largest grocery chains, private label tea brands, gourmet food and drink retailers, convenience store chains, international tea distributors, foodservice industry leaders, hotels, product developers, manufacturers, and online businesses.
Special events and highlights at Expo 2016
Organizers have honed the expo’s schedule so that professional attendees as well as casual observers will have time to attend nearly every event of interest to them. For 2016, there are already at least 20 special events scheduled and more could be added to the program between now and June.
The North American Tea Championship (Winners Tasting Circle)
World Tea Expo attendees can experience some of the award-winning teas that are now available in the U.S. and Canadian market. Tasting events are always among the best-attended at the expo, and this year’s offering is almost certain to be one of the hits of the entire expo. Sometimes there are as many as a hundred teas available for tasting, and many of the products are also given out as free samples for expo attendees.
The World Tea Awards
This is the industry’s awards program that recognizes those in the tea business who have made a difference. Some call it the “Oscars of the tea world,” and for those in the business, the awards are an important part of the expo.
Best New Products Awards
An annual review and compilation of the year’s best tea-related products, these awards go to various exhibitors at the expo who have brought something unique and interesting to the marketplace within the past 12 months. Always an exciting part of the proceedings, the Best New Product Awards garner plenty of media attention and are always a real crowd-pleaser for attendees.
Those considering attending the expo should book hotel rooms in advance as Las Vegas can be quite busy during the summer months. Being Las Vegas, the entertainment capital of the U.S., many attendees plan on attending one of the city’s many music or comedy shows during the weekend. The Expo’s hours allow for plenty of free time so attendees can enjoy all that Las Vegas has to offer. Be sure to check online and inquire about show tickets if you are interested.
There is plenty to do in Las Vegas besides gamble and see shows. The city has a vibrant art culture and is home to some of the world’s best family-friendly restaurants and entertainment venues. The Las Vegas Strip is a tourist attraction in itself; it never closes and is in full swing 24 hours per day. Be sure to book show tickets and other entertainment reservations well in advance.
Anyone interested in sponsorship information, vendor applications or tickets to the 2016 World Tea Expo should register at the official event website, www.worldteaexpo.com.