Math wrote:Hello Teaart, hope you had a good time.
Did you document your trip to the world tea expo? Would be nice to see some photography and hear some details and stories for all teachatters who couldn't be in Las Vegas?
Thank you and blessings! It was a rich experience. I made wonderful new tea friends from around the world. It was good to spend time with friends from Taiwan and immerse for a moment in shared perspectives of tea, from a Taiwan chayi viewpoint. I tasted many teas and gained a strong sense of the transitions and trends in the American tea market throughout the various classes I took and within multiple discussion/reflection sessions.
Some of the best teas I had were Korean teas from Hankook teas: really wonderful teas prepared by very friendly staff. I particularly enjoyed and purchased a nice Jaksul green tea that I look forward to pouring when its time comes. As I mentioned to Chip, the Taiwan teas were good but I felt that we have better Taiwan teas at home in our tea closet than we generally sampled at Expo, though there were some good teas (one Wenshan Baozhong in particular). The Nepali teas, specifically their first flush tea, were very good. They are doing some wonderful things with gender equality in the tea farms there as well as keeping the ownership of the farms in the hands of the growers/pickers, and really attempting to grow with sustainable methods.
I spent a fair amount of time talking, sharing, and being educated more deeply to Yixing ware with Master Tang Zhaoxia. It was nice to sit face to face with a generations long Yixing potter, located in Yixing, and discuss some of the myths and misinformation on Yixing and how to discern fine pots, the true state/availability of Zisha clay in Yixing, to discuss build methods and Yixing making, underlying philosophy, as well as to watch Tang Laoshi so easily construct a pot during her Yixing demonstration. There were great and warm connections made and much laughing and sharing discussing tea and Chinese culture and the present development of chayi. (Here I was very grateful for speaking Mandarin and grateful to have my wife's translating assistance if the depth went over my head
I did acquire some new teaware (an Yixing pot, a nice pottery tea boat, some cups, as well as a fair amount of tea). I was told that The Art Of Tea magazine should soon be available in the U.S. more easily, that distributorship difficulties were on their way to being resolved in the U.S.
Unfortunately the show is so controlled that no pictures are allowed; I would have liked to document the trip more deeply but we were repeatedly told to not film or photograph, even voice record in our seminars.
The Taiwan Tea Assoc. had a special tea baking unit, small and custom built for the show, brought to the floor. Here they performed tea baking and tasting experiments with one of the government tea researchers from Taiwan (Huang Laoshi). I sat in on these tastings and it was amazing to see what Huang Laoshi could do with the flavor of a moderate tea to bring it to a much better quality through baking. There was talk about making machines like the one they brought available to small sellers, distributors, teashops so that people could custom bake their teas to new specifications. However, Huang Laoshi detailed that the development of the tea's characteristics while baking are not linear and that the compounds in the leaf fluctuate at unpredictable moves making the baking process, even when monitored by a Ph.D tea scientist, difficult to calculate and, hence, an art.
Did anyone go to the aroma workshop at the expo? I'm really curious how that one went. If someone was like, "here, smell these vials of pure linalool and damascenones" I want to know where I can get some. But if it was just "here is some rose water, do any teas smell kind of like that?" I'd be doubly glad I stayed home.
I did attend one aroma/tasting workshop primarily because the workshop was supposed to present and use an "internationally standardized" aroma/clarification chart. However, even though the presenters are well known in tea circles, I personally felt the seminar fell flat. It was the one seminars that I judged not to deliver. One participant next to me mentioned that he buys the wine sommelier tasting scent kits to train his employees and that they work well, bypassing the need for the workshop.
Also, in the workshop, while sampling a tea, one person detected lychee notes in the tea while sampling. The presenter said not
to think of tea in this way and to find a quality already on the presenter's
provided list to describe the tea. While this is fine, I must admit this personally bothered me slightly because I judged the presenter to boxing and packaging tea in their way, potentially without respect or knowledge of tea point-of-origin cultural/tea perspectives/descriptors. Being that the presenter was not from a Chinese or Asian background they were excluding key terms that are used in the places where the tea is grown. Lychee is an well-liked fruit in East Asian cultures and some teas do present a lychee characteristic. For me, I studied tea in Taiwan, in Mandarin, and their are terms for which English has only poor approximations when describing tea, specifically given, for example, Chinese/Mandarin root radicals in Chinese characters used for description. It makes more sense to me to deeply know and research the cultures where tea has been under long, arduous, and artistic development, to embody and assimilate fully their deep perspectives and descriptions before projecting one's own external box on tea. While I understand the logic that would try to create an international standard for tea description, I also celebrate each person describing tea in their way, as well as knowing the descriptors in the cultures where tea is grown and is already a longstanding practice/art form. To me, the presenter's list needed to be expanded; it was not that the drinker whom detected lychee notes needed to abstain from "lychee" as a descriptor.
Lastly, there were a fair number of Chinese vendors but they were often playing with their phones, appeared disinterested or just blatantly sleeping at multiple booths. Even my wife, whom is Chinese from Taiwan, found the Chinese vendor "energy" a little odd.
Overall, the experience was immensely rich and too much report upon easily. As Chip warned before I left, the expo floor can be overwhelming.