Earlier this month we again attended The World Tea Expo, which was held in Las Vegas. Though I am not a big fan of the city, the venue worked well for this annual event. Our first participation at this trade show (then named Take Me to Tea) was in Providence RI. If I recall correctly there were about 400 attendees. That was 4 years ago. The Expo’s website says they had over 4600 registered this year! Yes, over a 10 fold growth. The number of exhibitors also has increased each year. We are starting to see support and affiliated vendors viaing to attract business from this fast growing segment.
All this bodes well for those that enjoy fine teas. More people wanting to start up, more companies growing, more and better supplies of tea and accessories, and more solid information about tea and health. It also means that some will jump into the industry just to get in on what they perceive is easy money from the overall growth. These people often have not done sufficient research, or do not have a real apprecitation of fine teas. Those are the operators that have less than great products, and usually are short lived when the consumers become more educated.
In any case, it will be fun to watch, and to be a part of this new trend in the US.
I make it a point in the morning to relax and enjoy my first pot of tea before I look at what is going on in the ‘real’ world. As a retailer, I am naturally concerned about how this rocky economic landscape will affect the sales of tea and tea related accessories. Retail sales in general are weak, so what about tea?
So far tea has been holding its’ own and then some. Sales for the first two months of the year have been brisk. Not that I have any real explanaiton for this, or know if it will continue.
I wonder if people realize that tea is one of those affordable ‘luxuries?’ For one thing, tea is inexpensive. I enjoy wine, but cannot afford to drink the top wines in the market. The price of tea however makes even those top offerings within the reach of most everyone. Also, you can open up a pouch or tin of tea, and drink it over several months. Wine does not do well 3 months after the bottle has been opened.
Tea is also is an inexpensive way to improve your health. A few cups of green tea a day has been shown to have multiple benefits. Tea is also a good alternative to many of the other beverages we consume daily.
So hopefully tea will be recognized as an enjoyable way to improve your health, and treat yourself well.
It’s a Big World…Drink it up!
First time visitors to a ‘real’ tea store are often surprised to find that Chai is not traditionally poured prepared from a concentrate which is highly sweetened. So we always give a little background about Chai, as a spiced black tea enjoyed in India and surrounding areas with steamed milk. Many that try authentic chai add little, if any sweetener, so I figure we are doing a good job educating their palette.
So when I was discovered Coconut chai, I must admit I was a little heisitant. Would I be messing with a traditional beverage and adding to the confusion? I learned two things from this venture. First, there are almost as many recipes for chai, as there are Indian households. Spices are chosen to taste, and often ground fresh. Second, a little experimentation can add a new dimension to an old favorite.
The addition of a little coconut seems to give the chai a smoother character, and add a slight natural sweetness. One other thing I noticed in this tea is that even people that do not normally like coconut do enjoy it when added to the other spices in the tea.
As for me, I have another beverage to enjoy in the morning!
Oolong teas are among my favorites, so when we sold out of our Rou Gui a month or so ago, I was resigned to the fact that I may need to wait until next spring to enjoy this again.
Fate smiled on me though, as we received a sample from another of our friends a couple of weeks ago. I wasted no time in cupping this oolong tea and was immediately struck by the aroma of cinnamon for which this tea is noted. The aroma translates nicely in the taste of the tea as well. It is smooth, slightly floral, with a cinnamon flavor that makes this a complex and exciting tea.
I only hope that we have enough to hold us until the spring crop!
I notice that just like many of my patrons, I tend to drink many of the same teas on a regular basis. Though we have about 100 varieties on the shelf, I gravitate towards some comfortable favorites. Every once in a while after I make a tea for a customer that I have not tasted for a while, I sip some of the same. A little light goes off in my head, and I remember why we have this in our selection!.
It was that way this morning. I looked at our tea wall for something bold, and ‘rediscovered’ our Khongea Golden Bud Assam. As soon as I opened the tin, the full smooth aroma told me that I selected the perfect tea with which to start my day. It has the strength and bold taste I need to get going, but is full of golden tips which makes it very smooth.
New Year’s resolution: Add variety to the day; Drink a different tea every day!