The first session I attended was "Current Trends and Future Outlook for Tea," a panel discussion including David Sprinkle, Lynn Dornblaser, and Jonas Feliciano, all directors of international market research companies.
- US tea consumers are still in love with their tea bags, with 73% purchasing standard tea bags, 15% purchasing pyramid tea bags and 13% purchasing loose leaf.
- Watch the instant tea powders market and don't underestimate the power of convenience when it comes to tea drinkers. It's a segment that could very well make a strong comeback in a modern format.
- Generation Y and Millenials are more interested in herbals, while "Foodies" are interested in green teas, as well as the herbals. And where Foodies go, pop culture will follow.
- The premium tea market has the strongest outlook for tea drinkers. In the U.S. alone, this is a $40 billion business that has grown over $10 billion since 2008.
- The focus on tea as a healthy beverage, especially for women as a part of their daily beauty regimen, is a huge opportunity. (Enhancing beauty from the inside out.)
- Integrating local ingredients, especially fruits or vegetables, into blends caters to locavores and the desire to have healthy beverage alternatives.
The next session I attended was on Tea and Health presented by Dr. Jeffrey Blumberg.
While I won't attempt to break down the descriptions of molecules or EGCG or why EGCG is even important, the exciting main takeaways for me were:
- Research shows that while green tea tested from the cup shows greater benefits than black teas or oolong teas, once any of those teas are ingested regularly, their benefits look remarkably similar when tested in our body's tissue. So, basically, when our bodies digest tea, regardless of type, the main benefits are there.
- Having said that, there is much more research specifically focused on the positive health benefits of green tea.
- Having said That, one of the most interesting studies Dr. Blumberg presented was the ability of black tea to reduce blood pressure.
The reason this information stood out to me so much is that I have a number of friends and relatives who have been advised to drink green tea for this or that purpose, but they don't like it. So, it's nice to think that in some cases, black tea may be just as effective in providing the benefits they need.
The 3rd and final session of the day was "Success From the Front Lines," which was a panel consisting of David Barenholtz of American Tea Room, Shabnam Weber of Tea Emporium, Julee Rosenoff of Perennial Tea Room, and Emeric Harney of Harney & Sons SoHo.
Lorna Reeves, editor of Tea Time Magazine, did a great job of getting to as many audience questions as possible - not easy when there were dozens of hands raised at any given moment. The panelists were funny, frank, and honest, but the message was clear. Know your own vision. Believe in it completely. Take it step by step and know that the only person you can rely on to see the vision through is you.
Then it was onto the trade show floor where I was delighted to meet Ian Chun, of Yunomi after many years of corresponding about Japanese tea farmers. This is one of the most wonderful things about attending World Tea Expos - putting real, live faces to familiar names! He was kind enough to introduce me to Tea Master, Michihiko Nishimura of Dobashien Co., Ltd. Stay tuned for a future blog post devoted entirely to my introduction to their tea!
|Tea Master Nishimura, me, Ian Chun|
|Michael, me and a Wall of Tea|
And last, but not least, I had the absolute pleasure of FINALLY meeting THE Rajiv Lochan. I have heard of his this gentle godfather of Darjeeling for years, and here he was. Live and in-person. We sat and chatted about Darjeeling and the need to document the individual stories of the 89 tea gardens there. The idea intrigues me - imagine the stories that the tea farmers and workers and the gardens themselves would tell.
I was so engrossed in our conversation, I completely forgot to snap a photo, which gives me the perfect excuse to track him down tomorrow and re-make a "Moment."
The Opening Night Reception is winding down this moment, but the networking has only just begun. It's so fun to connect with old friends and have opportunities to make new ones. The tea community, though large and varied, is also small and generous. I look forward to Day 2!