The World Tea Expo has been around for a few years now. The 2014 expo recently came and went. The venue had changed from Las Vegas (what happens there stays there) to Long Beach, California, where the Queen Mary is berthed permanently as a floating hotel with exhibits such as “Diana: Legacy of a Princess.” The expo is a great way for tea professionals to get together and share some “face time.” They show new products, schmooze with others who think that tea is one of the best things on the planet, and hope to win an award – recognition from others in their field. After that, though, what does it all matter?

The setting for a demo of the Korean Tea Ceremony by Kim Jyun Ji, one of the many sights at the expo. (photo from Facebook)

The setting for a demo of the Korean Tea Ceremony by Kim Jyun Ji, one of the many sights at the expo. (photo from Facebook)

The skeptics out there won’t think much of the whole event. Expos and exhibitions and conferences happen all the time. And awards to the attendees and exhibitors are handed out like candy to those trick-or-treaters at Halloween. The attendees are hopefully better off than before the event. Some get bragging rights for their awards. Others develop friendships and even business relationships with fellow attendees. For others, though, life returns to business as usual. For all, there are certainly memories that last a lifetime. At least, every conference I have ever attended has been that way.

The Award Winners

The first step is to plaster the award info all over their company store site, their social media pages, and anywhere else they can think of. I’ve already seen quite a few of these. A little tip here: be sure to mention the product that won the award. Just saying that you won for your “new product” leaves things a bit fuzzy.

The New Friendships

One of the best paybacks for going through all the effort and expense of setting up a booth and schlepping products halfway around the world (in some cases) or even just from across the U.S. is that “face time” I mentioned earlier. You can be online with folks, chatting on Facebook, exchanging tweets on Twitter, repinning their images on Pinterest, etc., but nothing beats steeping some Rou Gui oolong together and sipping it while quietly letting the aromas and flavors lift you to another mental level. You can also bond while discussing packaging, shipping issues, and other aspects of the business where you both find yourself relating to the challenges and rewards.

The Memories

Opening day, the crowds, meeting new people, meeting people you have previously only “talked” with online, the awards ceremony, closing day… so many memories are associated with such events. I remember just about every one I’ve ever attended (usually technology conferences showcasing new computer hardware and software). At a tea expo you can leave with bags full of tea samples, new teawares, a tea book or two, and more.

Maybe next year, the expo will be held somewhere more accessible to those of us who would rather not undergo being scanned so some agent can snicker at the practically nude image just so we can board an airplane. *Wink!*

See more of A.C. Cargill’s articles here.

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