Los Angeles Tea Festival

Article by Peter Surowski
LOS ANGELES – A crowd of 2,600 tea lovers came to sip and share last weekend at the fourth-annual Los Angeles International Tea Festival.

The two-day event Aug. 16-17 was organized by Chado Tea Room at the Japanese-American Museum in downtown Los Angeles.

Venders set up booths in the museum’s main hall and in the pedestrian walkway outside the front door in Little Tokyo and spent the weekend pouring tea, demonstrating new products and talking tea with passers-by.

“There are not many places you can go to try new teas,” said attendee Brianna Winner. “This is our once-a-year event where we stock up on teas.”

The LA Tea Fest is geared more toward consumers than shows like the World Tea Expo which was held at the Long Beach Convention Center in May, said Tek Mehrteab, the COO of Chado Tea Room, the retail branch of International Tea Importers (ITI) that operates three retail shops selling wet and dry teas in Los Angeles with one shop in Mumbai, India

The event aims to stir interest in tea among consumers and increase the visibility of the venders, according to Mehrteab.

“The more they try, the more they drink, the more they develop (an appreciation for quality tea),” he said: “It’s a win-win (for retailers and consumers).”

The fest also gave retailers the chance to show new products and get consumer feedback.
American Tea Room, which runs a retail shop in Beverly Hills, unveiled their line of bottled iced teas at the fest and chatted with attendees. “It’s really more convenient for some people,” said Jordan Huxley, the company’s store manager. “Some people want to come in, grab and go.”
The fest is a big benefit for Waterfall Tea Company, another branch of ITI that creates tea products for restaurants, service industries and grocery store shelves, said Jaqueline Sandoval, the business’ operations manager.

“It’s beneficial to get the in-person atmosphere and tell them about your product, especially because we’re very high quality,” she said. “Otherwise we’re just another tea on the shelf.”
The fest has grown since its beginning in 2011 when it had only eight vendors and only about 1,300 visitors over the two days, Mehrteab said.

Over that time, people’s interest in tea seems to have grown, he said.
“You can definitely see in the past four or five years people want to know more about tea,” the organizer said.

Mehrteab hopes to continue to grow the convention with more vendors next year, he said.

Photo credit: Rhiannon Little Surowski

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Grant Komjakraphan, eCommerce Manager of the American Tea Room prepares a sampling display at the 4th Annual Los Angeles International Tea Festival.

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Jordan Huxley, Store Manager, American Tea Room (Photo by Peter Surowski)

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Cille Washington and Marianne Steverson visit the Chado Tea Room during the Los Angeles International Tea Festival.

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Attendees visit vendors during the 4th Annual Los Angeles International Tea Festival.

Alexander Harney of the Marketing Department, Harney and Sons, pours a sample for an attendee.

Alexander Harney of the Marketing Department, Harney and Sons, pours a sample for an attendee.

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Andrew Ge, Account Executive, AOI Tea Company, explains products to the attendees.

Jordan Essey, General Manager, Chado Tea Room

Jordan Essey, General Manager, Chado Tea Room

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An employee of the Zen Tea House looks on as attendees check out their booth.

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Jaqueline Sandoval, Operations Manager, Waterfall Tea Company

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AOI Tea Company hands a sample to an attendee.