Thursday, June 17, 2010

World Tea Expo 2010 - James Norwood Pratt

Hello TEA Friends,

Two week's ago, Barb's TEA Shop attended The World Tea Expo, the international tea trade show held in Las Vegas every June since 2003. Some years have also included an east coast show. The 2004 expo in Rhode Island, then called "Take Me 2 Tea" and re-branded in 2005, was the last trade show we were able to attend, so this was especially exciting.

We met up with many familiar faces in the tea community, The Richardsons of Elmwood Inn Teas, fellow members of the Association of Tea Bloggers, and tea specialist and historian, Jane Pettigrew as well as a number of new acquaintances and introductions to fascinating teas and innovative products. But, certainly, one of the highlights was meeting author and tea guru, James Norwood Pratt, who is often credited with the meteoric rise in popularity of tea in the US back in the early 1980's.

James Norwood Pratt's "The Tea Lover's Treasury" (and subsequently republished as the "New Tea Lover's Treasury" with additional material) is the quintessential reference book for those who embrace tea, not only as a hot beverage, but as a lifestyle as well. I have worn the pages of my own autographed copy from many visits throughout the years.

As serendipitous as many of our tea adventures are, we quite literally bumped into James Norwood Pratt near the escalators of the convention center. Charming and gracious, he invited us to visit him inside the trade show to meet with other authors and tea enthusiasts. It's here we found this year's top pick for our holiday wish list: James Norwood Pratt's Tea Dictionary. Its purpose is to be "an indispensable tool for tea lovers of every description"and has been named 2010’s Best New Publication by World Tea Expo.

Although Las Vegas may not be the first city that comes to mind when you think of tea, we found the Tea Expo to be as warm and exhilarating as a walk down "the strip". When you get to meet James Norwood Pratt on the first morning of the tea expo, you have certainly hit the jackpot. Tea-va Las Vegas!

Yours in tea and friendship,


Post Script: Upcoming blogs will cover other tea industry specialists, authors and tea products we encountered at the Las Vegas Tea Convention. It was an amazing event, and attendance set another record from previous years.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Tea Travels: The Tea Emporium in Toronto

Hello TEA Friends,

The Tea Emporium in Toronto has long been on my "tea room visit wish list" and, finally, this past April, we made it there. We stopped at the Eglinton location which not only has a tea boutique and a tea lounge, but is home to Canada's only "Tea School".

Like those impassioned shoppers waiting at Best Buy at 5:00 am on "Black Friday", we were at The Tea Emporium's door when it opened on a Sunday afternoon. Once in, I couldn't get to the counter fast enough. Large black tins of tea line the shelves on the back wall and, though somewhat daunting, our enthusiastic salesperson navigated us through the greens, the blacks and the oolongs with detailed information about the teas' locale, history and preparation. He offered suggestions as we sniffed our way through a variety of samples and provided answers to our numerous questions.

For relaxing in the tea lounge, I wanted to try their Lapsang Souchong, and my husband, Chris, order the Brasil Yerba Mate. Chris found the Yerba Mate hearty, flavorful and refreshing and I savored the earthy taste of black tea from China's Fujian province in my cup. The lapsang souchong is like drinking in a campfire - but in a good way. It's a good drink to sip slowly and savor.

Although we had missed the bi-weekly Tea School class (held on Saturdays), we did get to peek in at the classroom. Attending one of their afternoon classes or the tea specialist course is also on my wish list. For the month of June, "Oolong and Pu-erh" and "The Fascinating World of Tea" are scheduled. For more information check out the Tea Emporium's School of Tea.

The Tea Emporium is a joy to visit for any tea enthusiast. We brought back a shopping bag's worth of tea and we plan to cross the border again very soon.

And, now, it seems like we just unpacked from Toronto and we're bringing out the suitcase for this week's out of town excursion: The World Tea Expo in Las Vegas. We'll be there with some of our fellow tea bloggers, too. Let us know if you will be there as well!

In the meantime, here's to all tea adventures whether international, across state borders or on your backyard deck.

Yours in TEA and friendship,