By Stephenie Overman
World Tea Awards were handed out to tea advocates, educators, sellers and innovators Wednesday, June 15 at the 2016 World Tea Expo in Las Vegas. Expo attendees also paid tribute to specialty tea import pioneer Devan Shah who died earlier this year.
Now in its third year, the World Tea Awards program celebrates the best in the tea industry, covering a broad range of key categories. The winners were:
- Best Tea Health Advocate: Jane Pettigrew
- Best Tea Marketing: Tealet
- Best Tea Industry Innovation: Teforia
- Best Retail Tea Shop or Chain: Chado Tea Room
- Best Tea Accessory, Technology: Bonavita Gooseneck Kettle
- Best Tea Community, Social Initiative: El Club del Té
- Best Tea Publication: The Tea House Times
- Best Social Media Reach: El Club del Té
- Best Tea Industry Website: Camellia Sinensis
- Best Tea Brand: Harney & Sons
- Best Tea Blog: T Ching
- Best Tea Educator: James Norwood Pratt
During the awards ceremony author and educator James Norwood Pratt paid tribute to Shah, who was founder and president of International Tea Imports in Commerce, Calif.
Pratt called Shah, 53, “a born tea man” whose success story was a byproduct of his “quest to change the tea culture in the United States.”
Shah understood that “culture and commerce are two sides of the same coin,” Pratt said. “This is our first Expo without him.” Shah was the 2013 winner of the World Tea Awards’ lifetime achievement award.
Pratt noted that Shah introduced chai tea to the United States, that he was the first to mass market white tea in the United States and that he introduced yellow tea to the country.
He said he tasted the first tea Shah imported from chests stored in Shah’s father-in-law’s garage in 1990. “He made us promise not to scratch the Buick.”
The awards program and reception was hosted by Kevin Gascoyne, tea taster and owner of Camellia Sinensis, and Bruce Richardson, co-owner of Elmwood Inn Fine Teas and Benjamin Press.