Last month, I hit the road to Las Vegas to attend the World Tea Expo!
I'll be honest. Historically, I have missed some years attending the WTE because I felt that the industry still trailed behind in terms of adopting new tea ideas and rituals. The tea world is thousands of years old, and many established tea brands are hundreds of years old and that was often times reflected in the level of innovation I would see at the show.
This year was different. In some ways, I think there is a new global lens on the tea industry and some striking new trends that are hard to ignore. Boba/Bubble tea is finally becoming mainstream and the tea industry is finally recognizing this shift. This year, change and a refreshed perspective on the industry was welcomed. So much so that a few of us were invited to lead panels on building tea brands for today's modern consumer. I shared the stage with my new friends Lisa (Founder of Big Heart Tea) and Jonathan (Beverage Director of Alred Tea) to discuss how we each have approached building our tea brands. We spoke about the changes we all see taking place, of how tea companies (like Tea Drops and Alfred) are now partnering with amazing brands like Hello Kitty and Disney, something that we would not have seen 5-10 years ago.
We got a group of amazing tea brands together to host an innovations dinner at Momofuku at the Cosmopolitan. This was definitely a highlight of the week and one that I loved to see. All of us tea companies, with our own unique takes and journeys, not looking at one another as competition but rather bonding together to make sure that this sacred industry thrives. When one of us changes people's receptivity to tea, we all win.
And of course it was amazing sharing this experience with my Mom. We walked the show floor together and were excited to see so many new tea exhibitors. My Mom has been my #1 supporter since day one of Tea Drops. She was actually one of the first people I called to help me make Tea Drops in my home kitchen at the time when I was overwhelmed with orders. I think she too gets invigorated by seeing the changes happening in the tea industry, and it seems more exhibitors knew her than me :) After 6 years of grinding on this business it was really special to share this experience with her.
So, cheers to Moms and cheers to positive changes happening in the tea industry!