Later today I board a plane to take me to Las Vegas to attend the World Tea Expo. This will be my third year in a row attending, and I am looking forward to it. For me the Expo is a rare opportunity to focus entirely on tea, tea culture, and tea community, and it’s a refreshing break from the ordinary.
This year I will be helping Royal Tea of Kenya at their booth, and also with the Kenya segment of the Day of Origin presentations. This is the first year that Kenya is featured as a significant tea origin, although it is fourth largest in worldwide tea production. Joy Njuguna has a great deal of fantastic information to impart, about the emerging specialty tea market, and her connection to the lineage of tea production.
One of the things that has become increasingly clear to me over the past several years is that the tea industry is driven in some significant ways by personal relationships. Having so many tea people converge in one place each year allows for reminders of these connections, and in many cases allows for the opportunity to meet people in person with whom I have only had online interactions with. If you’re also going to be there and run into me, please introduce yourself or track me down through social media. I’ll be easy to find.
Up until a couple of years ago I thought I’d be able to avoid the inhospitable crucible of human misery that is Las Vegas entirely, but I found when I visited the first time that it wasn’t as horrible as I anticipated. This was in large part due to the Expo itself, which is such a great experience.
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As someone that has done a fair amount of content on tea, I have a lot of mixed thoughts on the way information is passed. With tea reviews or discussing a specific tea I have struggled with the question: how to talk about an individual tea or tea in general in an interesting or useful way.. Whether you like or dislike TeaDB episodes largely depends on whether you enjoy watching two particular people drink and binter. This is fine enough and it is certainly fun for Denny & I to create, but I’ll also agree with the sentiment that it’s not necessarily the most substantive way to review a tea in depth. There’s some signal but there’s also a lot of noise. Writing about a specific tea also isn’t easy and I think is actually very difficult to execute in a way that is actually consistently interesting or useful for people. Most people just want to know if you liked or didn’t like a specific tea. Making something that piques interest beyond that is a challenge and even if you don’t like them a place like Mei Leaf has succeeded in creating content that really does engage their viewers. You also have to consider that the majority of people have not had the tea or are even unfamiliar with the basic taste profile (i.e. Denny & I describing a traditionally stored pu’erh, when the audience has never had one).. Here are some phrases I dislike and hear frequently enough that I find them unhelpful and sometimes even counter-productive.
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On a business trip recently, I went with my colleagues to a fantastic little coffee shop in Silicon Valley called Chromatic Coffee. My colleagues were very excited about the way they grind, brew, and pour the coffee. It turns out there is a lot more to coffee than I ever knew. For … Continue reading