Since it ended in July, I’m probably the last person to be writing a blog about the 2016 WORLD TEA EXPO, but the event was just so important and amazing that I still need to write down my thoughts.
Born as a Christmas Market idea in Germany, ManwithaMug.com became reality early in 2016 as I was approaching the finish line of my 52 week training to become a tea sommelier.
The program included a final graduation ceremony held during the World Tea Expo in Las Vegas, USA. First I dismissed this idea due to the tremendous logistical challenges this was presenting (I was living in Rome, Italy to be assigned somewhere else in the world). But somehow with a lot of moral support from Ms. Tea we shifted our agenda around, planned our family visit to Boston around that time to hand over the kids to the grandparents and took the plunge and made reservations for the Expo.
Everything was on target to travel to Las Vegas until we hit a major roadblock: our flight from Boston to Las Vegas with Spirit Airlines got canceled and the next one would be only in a few days! Luckily I managed to re-book us via iPad onto a Jet blue flight and the trip was back on.
The next morning we were off to pick up our badges and that’s when it finally became reality: ManwithaMug and Ms. Tea were at the World Tea Expo! While I plunged myself into the amazing educational program, Ms. Tea preferred to explore the Vegas strip as this was her first visit. She actually later in the week left town altogether to see the Grand Canyon via helicopter!
My first class was by my amazing educator from the World Tea Academy, Donna Fellmann. It was a true pleasure to finally meet her.
Together with equally talented and amazing Virginia Utermohlen and Marzi Pecen we were presented with the individual components of Oolong tea and the differences in taste and smell. It was a tremendous journey which also included tasting of tea. It opened my eyes (and nose) to the world of tasting and smelling.
After that I swiftly joined another amazing tasting class: Chinese Green teas with Lydia Kung and Donna Fellman. This was a stunning class with an in-depth view into different categories of Chinese green teas, some of my very favorite teas (actually as I am writing this blog I am sipping Dragonwell Chinese green tea…). Not only did we taste the teas, we also brewed them!
I was also able to join the Tea bloggers roundtable and listen to some of my blogging colleagues. Very interesting thoughts and perspectives around the world of tea blogging. Hope to become part of the round table one day.
After that it was time to hit the expo floor and explore some of the new products and technologies. Just walking around was a rewarding process, seeing so many legends in the tea world. Everyone was just so nice and approachable and happy to chat tea. I was thrilled to meet one of my tea idols, James Norwood Pratt, a true gentlemen.
In the evening we were excited to join the Awards Ceremony where the best in the tea industry were honored. And the evening was just getting started!
We jointed a tea pairing dinner at the best restaurant in Vegas Chinatown – Niu-Gu. Many great blogs have covered this legendary tea pairing dinner and I met very interesting people at our table.
The second day covered further amazing educational classes. One of my favorites was the Darjeeling tasting class with Kevin Gascoyne.
It is such a privilege to learn from Kevin from his expansive experience and travel to the Darjeeling region. This class brought my understanding about this tea to a completely new level.
As a tea blogger I enjoyed the social media class by the legendary Nicole Martin and was also able to meet her after the class. Well done, Nicole!
We reserved the afternoon for some joint fun with Ms. Tea to see the traditional Vegas stuff which included a comedy show in the evening.
The third day finally brought the event to which I have been working and studying for so hard: my graduation ceremony to become a tea sommelier with the World Tea Academy.
Before the ceremony in the afternoon I would like to mention one special educational class I attended in the morning: “Marriages Made in Tea & Cheese Heaven: An Exploration of Tea and Cheese Pairings” with Robert Wemischner. What a fascinating class! I never thought that the texture and temperature of certain teas and cheeses go so well together.
It has been amazing to meet my fellow students and to congratulate them for their achievements on becoming tea professionals. To join the ranks of other tea sommeliers is a great dream come true for me and I will continue to expand my knowledge in Myanmar.
Thank you, World Tea Expo for an amazing event and we hope to make it back in the following years!