There was a lot going on at this year’s Tenth World Tea Expo in Las Vegas. The event brought people together from all across the globe, so it was quite fitting that the ITCC have a social gathering at the event. Starting at 6:30 PM, after the first full day of the Expo, tea lovers from around the world and from all levels of the tea industry lifted their cups for an hour of fellowship as they tasted four special teas.

Hosted by ITCC Director Dan Robertson, the second annual Cup Warming was attended by nearly 50 people and included teas brought in especially for the event. Each tea was introduced and then prepared using traditional tea-cupping equipment. The tea was portioned out for everyone to taste and evaluate. The first tea was introduced and prepared by Tatsuo Sano of Marumatsu Tea from Shizuoka, Japan. It was a Fukamushi-style (deep-steamed) Sen Cha green tea used primarily for gift giving and not for sale. The group was quite fortunate to get to taste this tea, which offered a fresh green, vegetal flavor with light sweet seaweed notes.

The next selection was a pre-first flush, whole-leaf tea from Darjeeling presented by Dan Robertson of The Tea House from Naperville, Illinois. A unique combination of leaf style and processing methods, this tea bends the popular pre-conceptions of Darjeeling tea. It also confounds the usual tea categories, being neither a black, oolong, white, or green tea, but rather a tea with elements of all. Light, but full flavored, this tea was made by Glenburn Tea Estate.

The third tea was a King-grade Tie Guan Yin oolong (Iron Goddess of Mercy) made in the fall of 2011. The lightly oxidized autumnal Tie Guan Yins are known for their enchanting aroma. The succulent, deep jade-green leaves are plucked from bushes that are allowed to grow only 7-10 years before being uprooted. The result is complex floral aromas with a rich, full-mouth feel. This tea came from AiXi county, Fujian, China and was also introduced by Dan Robertson of The Tea House. Registration is still open for the ITCC’s Tie Guan Yin Cupping Event, which will feature eight such extraordinary teas.

The fourth wonderful tea was a robust and flavorful golden bud tea from Kenya. A specially manufactured tea, it consisted of nearly all buds and offered a sweet, rich flavor with hints of spice, reminiscent of a high-end Yunnan bud tea. It was introduced by Joy W’Njuguna of Royal Tea of Kenya, who explained that only a few pounds of this tea were produced.

Thanks to Kaye and the rest of the World Tea Expo staff for providing the room. For more information on the ITCC, tea news, and the world-wide community of tea cuppers, visit the ITCC website.