I attended the World Tea Expo in Las Vegas earlier this week, along with over 3500 other tea-industry people from all over the globe. It was the fourth time I attended the annual event, and every time, I leave with a new idea, inspiration, or product.
This time was a little different.
I didn’t see anything that stood out. No new innovations, flavors, ingredients, or brewing accessories, just a lot of everything I had seen in past events.
What did happen was that I made some great connections with smart and interesting tea people from……
Can you guess?
People from my own back yard.
The expo opened at 11 am on Tuesday. I got there a few minutes early to check in and grab my badge. While waiting for the doors to open, I heard someone call my name. "Kita!"
What? Who knows me here?
It was Maggie Hensley, admin of the Phoenix Tea Facebook group, who recognized me with a big hello hug. We were shortly joined by Rachel and Darrel from PuraTea Water, a tea and water shop in Glendale, AZ. They had been my customers for years, and were inspired to open up their own tea place in the Northwest Valley!
The following day, I also met up with Ashley Hoekstra, who recently opened Chacha’s Tea Lounge in the downtown arts district on Grand Avenue. She was at the expo with her husband, and taking her first days off work from her shop since she opened for business four months ago.
The life of a business owner…
Don’t get me wrong, I also met some smart, interesting, and creative people from other places too. I was chatting with a Colorado conference-goer who observed how HEALTHY tea drinkers are. I looked around at the 3000+ people, and saw that he was right. Just about everyone there was energetic, clear-eyed, and vibrant, with great skin and upbeat energy. They are obviously doing something right, and the common denominator is tea.
So, what happened from me in Las Vegas is that I met people from my tribe. What I hope will follow is to nourish and maintain that connection right here at home. It’s good for me personally, but it also benefits our larger community.
We have all been so caught up with our own businesses and lives that it took a 300 mile journey for us to meet our neighbors. While that’s cool, it also means that I need to get out more and support my peeps.
So, I have a tea date on Monday, June 25th with some friends at Chacha’s Tea Lounge at 1325 Grand Ave Suite 3, Phoenix, AZ 85007.
I’m meeting Sasha Bonner, who many of you know as one of our staff herbalists at Loose Leaf, along with Merihelen Diaz-Nunez, herbalist and owner of Tangled Root Botanicals in historic downtown Glendale. We’ll be there at 10 am, so if you're in the area, stop by, say hi and support one of our local Phoenix tea businesses!