By Rachel Carter
After experimenting with some different formats over the past few years, World Tea Expo 2016 felt like a return to the core of the event. The pleasant surprise was the obvious effort to modernize tea and tea education.
Nicole Martin presenting session on social media
Many of this year’s core conference offerings were geared toward the modernization of tea. Several sessions focused on bringing tea into the twenty-first century, for example, Nicole Martin’s “Utilizing Social Media to Connect with Customers Authentically and Grow Your Tea Business.” Martin, who writes the blog Tea For Me Please, drew a large crowd; it was clearly a topic of interest to Expo attendees.
Another crowd pleaser was the session “Working with the Media: Learn from Top Tea Editors.” Some of the most knowledgeable and influential people in media were present on the panel, and shared their tips for getting press coverage. The panel was moderated by Aaron Kiel of ak PR Group, who also does the PR for World Tea Expo, and included editors from media such as TeaTime magazine, Tea & Coffee Trade Journal, The Tea House Times, World Tea News, Tea Journey, StiR, The Tea Stylist blog, and a handful of freelance writers. Kathy YL Chan of KathyYLChan.com advised attendees, particularly writers, to “never work for free.”
Learn from Top Tea Editors panel: (from left) Aaron Kiel, Gail Gastelu, Jan Weigel, Vanessa Facenda, Lorna Reeves, Linda Gaylard, Kathy YL Chan, Scott Reitz, Dan Bolton
“The Tea Bloggers Roundtable,” moderated by Darlene Meyers-Perry, presented tea bloggers from around the world uniting in the support of the tea business and education. Tea blogs can be of great value to businesses and customers, enabling long-lasting relationships throughout the tea community.
Educational sessions at the Expo helped keep tea relevant and were a powerful draw for the many new and younger tea enthusiasts, as well as with others looking to build on existing relationships.