George Jage, founder and director of World Tea Expo and Healthy Beverage Expo, is moving on to a new position outside of the specialty tea and healthy beverage industries. And the community is thanking him for more than 10 years of dedicated service to enhancing tea in the North American marketplace, as well as bringing attention to better-for-you beverages with healthful ingredients.
Charlie Cain, vice president, Teavana Tea Bar operations and franchising, Starbucks Coffee Company in Seattle, Wash., says, “As I think back over the 10 years I’ve spent in the U.S. specialty tea industry, George Jage stands out clearly as a charismatic and enthusiastic leader for the healthy growth of our industry. He built an incredible show and media platform, but more importantly he built a family. I’m honored to be part of that family and will forever be grateful for the impact he has had on my career and my industry.”
In 2003, Jage created Take Me 2 Tea, the nation’s first tradeshow devoted solely to premium teas and related products. In 2005, the event was re-branded as World Tea Expo, to more accurately reflect its position in the international tea industry. In 2013, he helped premiere Healthy Beverage Expo, which facilitates the dialogue surrounding what “healthy” means to the industry and ultimately the consumer. Jage also founded the North American Tea Championship, World Tea Academy and World Tea News.
In a recent World Tea News article, Jage shares some final thoughts and wisdom on the dynamic tea marketplace: “We are in a golden age of expansion for the specialty tea industry. Tea remains the most-consumed beverage globally, second only to water, but lags at 7th in the United States. The opportunity for growth is strong and the returns are significant, making this an attractive industry to capitalist and entrepreneurs. Market makers like Starbucks are making bold moves, and significant innovations are being made by companies like BKON. The stars are all aligned. The fruit is ripe. The future is in your tea cup.”
Thanks & Thoughts on Jage
Beth Johnston, founder and CEO of Teas Etc. Inc., West Palm Beach, Fla., shares, “George has been instrumental in the growth of the specialty tea industry. Since he first envisioned Take Me To Tea [the former name of World Tea Expo], George saw a need in the specialty tea industry to bring tea people together in a meaningful, beneficial way.”
John Chaffey, director of sales at the Metropolitan Tea Company, with offices in New York, Canada and the United Kingdom, says, “World Tea Expo has raised the profile for specialty tea in the United States and, as a result, raised the bar for other consuming nations and producers as well. George’s relentless pursuit of this goal asked us to aim higher, and hopefully we have.”
Brian Keating, publisher of the Specialty Tea Is “Hot” Report, Seattle, Wash., notes, “George Jage made exceptional sacrifices to advance the specialty tea trade in North America. His relentless promotion of the trade show he founded – World Tea Expo – devoted to specialty tea was only equaled by his support of individual entrepreneurs and brands. The specialty tea industry will forever be indebted to George and his wife Kim for their work to promote the advancement of specialty tea.”
Mark Blumenthal, founder & executive director of American Botanical Council and editor-in-chief of HerbalGram & HerbClip, says, “The American Botanical Council participated in the first World Tea Expo and many subsequent World Tea Expos. We had a booth and I was a speaker for about three or four of these. During the decade that I’ve known George, he has always impressed me as a brilliant fellow, an excellent networker and organizer, a savvy promoter and a strong advocate for tea and its value as a healthful and pleasurable beverage. He is probably the one person (although I should probably include Kim Jage [his wife] in this, too) who has created a viable community among tea importers, blenders, sellers, marketers, educators, et al in the United States and beyond.”
Tea writer Babette Donaldson, author of The Everything Healthy Tea Book: Discover the Healing Benefits of Tea, says, “George Jage has written a new chapter in the history of tea by building a bridge over the chasm between the large corporations and small retailers through World Tea Expo. His creative legacy challenges us to honor our interdependency as a strength, a fuel, with the potential to make us the 2nd most popular beverage in the United States, as it is in most of the rest of the world. George adopted the specialty tea industry in its infancy and bound us together as a tea family to love and nurture it. Thousands of us are indebted to him and to the World Tea team for helping us find our place at the table and our voice in the marketplace.”
Director of Training & Education at Rishi Tea, Suzette Hammond, notes, “Working with George and Kim for over seven years has been such an eye-opening and life affirming experience. They never let me forget why we’re here and why what we do is important. Even more than that, however, is the privilege to also be able to call them friends. A rarity in business, of which I am well aware. They are fierce defenders and their loyalty and work ethic inspires you to keep pushing for more in your own life. I am so deeply grateful for their friendship and faith through everything – they believed in me more than I ever could alone. I’m reminding myself that this is definitely not ‘Goodbye,’ but rather ‘Congratulations!,’ because that’s how I – and we as a community – should greet this next period in our time together. We love you both. Thank you for more than I could ever say in words.”
Dan Bolton, editor of Tea Biz Blog, says, “George recalled that a dozen years ago when he first approached blenders to sponsor the event, veterans of the specialty tea industry explained that ‘the only money in this business is the money they brought with them.’ He proceeded undaunted. That line must bring a smile to those who recall the humble beginnings in 1997 for Andy Mack and his wife Nancy who turned the modest little Elephant Tea Co. in Atlanta into a $300 million personal fortune. George has a gift for sighting a pot of gold, rainbow or not. I believe he has done so again.”
Richard Enticott, president and CEO of Martin Bauer Inc. in New York, N.Y., adds, “I have many fond memories of my times with George since the first Take Me 2 Tea Expo up until the recent one in Long Beach. On the golf course, at the show, in the hottest restaurants and at the seediest casinos (Mostly before we both became fathers). It was his tireless dedication to the cause and unbelievable drive that impressed me the most – the specialty tea industry has lost a shining light and a diamond geezer. It is essential that the platform George has put in place is now built upon by the specialty tea industry in order to ensure lasting recognition of the massive contribution he has made. Thanks for everything George.”
Publisher of The Tea House Times, Gail Gastelu, says, “Short and sweet is not a way I can express deepest love, appreciation, friendship and respect towards George Jage – shared by me and everyone in the tea industry. He ruled. He rocked it! And, in words he usually likes to say, about others – ‘Lifting us all a little higher’ – he is the one who lifted us all a lot higher! His hard work, sacrifice and determination will never be forgotten. I wish him success and happiness in everything he does and will truly miss bugging him about projects we worked on together. World Tea Expo and Healthy Beverage Expo will continue to grow together as healthy, positive experiences – what the world needs.”
Currently, The Beverage Group [a.k.a World Tea Media], a division of F+W Media, is guided by a diverse group of advisory board members – all influential leaders from the tea and beverage communities.
Healthy Beverage Expo Advisory Board:
- Janet DiGiovanna, co-founder, dash Advisors
- Art Eggertsen, sales and brand ambassador, Kate Farms
- Melinda Hemmelgarn, M.S., R.D., Food Sleuth, LLC
- Phil Lempert, The Supermarket Guru
- Tim Lucas, CMO, Funktional Beverages
- Rob McCaleb, founder and president, Herb Research Foundation
- Ian McLean, founder and creative director, McLean Design
- Danny Rubenstein, co-founder, dash Advisors
- Donald Wilkes, president and CEO, Blue Pacific Flavors
World Tea Expo Advisory Board:
- Charles Cain, vice president, Teavana, Starbucks Coffee Company
- John Chaffey, director of sales, Metropolitan Tea Company
- Mim Enck, president, East Indies Coffee & Tea
- Gail Gastelu, publisher, The Tea House Times
- Manjiv Jayakumar, president, QTrade Teas & Herbs
- Beth Johnston, CEO, Teas Etc.
- Sascha Karimpour, president, Dethlefsen & Balk
- Brian Keating, founder, Sage Group
- Marc Kluge, VP and general manager, Florapharm Tea USA
- Holger Lohs, CEO, Haelssen & Lyon North America Corp.
- Devan Shah, president, International Tea Importers
- Fumi Sugita, executive general manager, Aiya America
- Rona Tison, senior vice president of corporate relations, ITO EN (North America), Inc.
- Maria Uspenski, CEO, The Tea Spot