A Business Trip with Benefits – World Tea Expo 2015, Day 1
Arriving at the Long Beach Convention Center, and seeing that sign, was like coming home again.
This was to be my third World Tea Expo in a row. The first year was a three-day whirlwind of awesomeness. The second was like a quickie, followed by a long-distance relationship. This year took on an entirely different form. This was a business trip . . . with benefits.
Within minutes of entering, I encountered people in my tea blogging sphere. This was just within the first hour.
. . . And true to Murphy’s law, my camera kept dying right when important things happened – such as meet-ups. Therefore, I had to mooch moments from other people who had the forethought to bring a decent phone, camera or – in one special case – a battery pack.
A particularly noteworthy pleasure was finally getting to meet Katrina Munichiello – an author/editor I truly respected. She was just as nerdy as the rest of us, and a pure delight to boot. Even I violated my usual selfie embargo to be snapped with her, Nicole “AmazonV” Schwartz, and Rachel “I Heart Teas” Carter.
After who-knows-how-long of playing catch-up, I finally hit the Expo floor. My first mission was to see a familiar face. I learned through the tweet-o-sphere that one of my favorite Oregon outfits – Chariteas – had a booth. Per my World Tea News write-up, she was now wholesaling Indonesian teas from one garden – two blacks, one white, and one . . . that was absolutely delicious . . . but I couldn’t quite identify it. It was called Grey Dragon.
It almost needed its own category.
In my floor wanderings, I also encountered Nicole “Tea For Me Please” Martin, who soon became the Maverick to my Goose. If there were folks I needed to talk to; I followed her. If she was in search of something shiny and weird; she followed me. In that first day, we encountered Columbian grown tea, coffee leaf “tea”, and Laotian grown tea. (I’ll get to all of those in greater detail at a later date.)
We also encountered random friends in our wanderings. There was so much to take in that we both said, “Oh yeah, we have a panel to be on in ten minutes.”
Jen “An International Tea Moment” Piccotti had organized four of us boggers for a panel dubbed “Amplifying Your Business Voice Through Tea Bloggers”. It was a serious panel. I’d never been on a serious panel before. No, it didn’t stay serious for very long. Fellow panelists included Jen, Nicole M, myself, and the venerable Jo “Scandalous Tea” Johnson. The goal of the panel was to illustrate how tea vendors could best use tea bloggers to get the word out on their wares. I was surprised by the ample turnout.
And I was even more surprised that – mid-panel – I’d forgotten Jen’s name.
Once the Expo-ing leg of the day was done, I moseyed over to the Tealet beach house rental for a focused tasting. Elyse Petersn and Rie Tulali ran us through a couple of special teas from Nepal, as well as some Jin Jun Mei and Hawaiian white.
That’s all I needed. More caffeine.
Day One: Complete.
That seems like such a fun conference! I hope the panel went well, minus the name snafu. Things like that happen, don’t beat yourself up! Hope you have a lot of fun with the rest of the event!
This sounds like a great event for you- discovering tea, meeting people to talk about tea, going to panels to talk about tea, Tea and Tea People united!
And being in panels. What a trip.
Haha! Don’t you HATE when you have a brain fart and completely space out on someone’s name you know you should have remembered. The worst! Looks like an awesome trip otherwise. Cheers 🙂
Happens to me all the time.
Everytime I read a review I wish I was there. Next year! I think I was at all the others you weren’t at.
Next year, indeed!
It was an honor having you beside me and having your shoulder to lean on. You did a fantastic job providing much needed information. So sorry I could not follow you around this trip as I think I missed much great tea.
I think you found some things I missed.
I’m so glad my nerdiness was to your liking. It was a total pleasure to meet you too. I look forward to the next time we get to share tea.
sounds like the perfect trip!
It was definitely up there.
This is really nice, what great photos and what a great gathering of tea illiterati!
We don’t see enough pictures of you so I consider this a rare treat.
Someday I’ll go to the expo, it always looks like a great time.
It was a great time. You would’ve fit right in, Pete.
So many serious/not serious people and all of you seem to have a really good time.
And I do agree with @peter
So do I.