It so happened that I lost my luggage on my flight to America and I was feeling rather naked.  But the tea community at the World Tea Expo 2012 in Las Vegas last month accepted me as is.  In fact, my fellow tea people sympathized with me so much that I became famous at the expo as the “tea man without tea.”  Dan Robertson and Dharlene Marie Fahl were kind enough to let me adopt their teas, pots, and books and, as a result, my booth attracted more crowds than I had ever thought possible and I made many new friends.  Sereni-Tea: Seven Sips to BLISS (with a forward and endorsements by me) is the title of the book by Dharlene Marie Fahl that we promoted at our booth about the spirituality of tea.

Wiemin from China Central TV (CCTV) was there to film Joe Simrany, Louise Roberge, and Bhanu – the Indian Tea Board’s new Chairman – and us.  And Bill Waddington, Beth Johnston, and Kevin Gascoyne were the star performers in the show.  In addition, George Jage was happy to get my opinion in writing that the World Tea Expo is “the best professionally managed tea show anywhere in the world” – I have attended more than 100 worldwide.

The Americas – including the U.S., Canada, and Southern countries – are undergoing a tea cultural revolution in which a new level of appreciation is evolving that has heretofore never been experienced.  Unlike the Chinese, Japanese, and Korean tea cultures, the American tea culture is a modern tea culture – complete with stories, literature (both printed and electronic), education, food, and accessories.  Coming from a mate background, Latin America is waking up to tea, and coffee is losing its sheen.  “Safety” is the word uppermost in the minds of many vendors and consumers after various scares over the past few years.

It is up to India to synchronize its tea products – including the fine teas of Darjeeling and Assam – with America’s needs in whichever ways make sense.  Put very succinctly by Bhanu during an exclusive tea-testing session in Las Vegas, Indian producers are often complacent in marketing their wares abroad because internal consumption is good enough to sustain most plantations.  However, we should not let this opportunity slip to other producers because exports only increase the price of any commodity.  Wine prices are high only because wines are packaged and presented in an exclusive manner.  We should learn the lesson fast – that tea is nowhere a lesser beverage, just not always presented as the amazing beverage it is.