I am not just on the lookout for great new tea blends and growers when I attend the World Tea Expo every summer in Vegas.  One of the most exciting parts of the show is checking out all of the new accessories being unveiled and 2012’s show certainly did not disappoint!

When looking at accessories, there are a few guidelines I use to choose something for Joy’s Teaspoon:

  1. Does it make brewing tea easy?
  2. Is there something about the product that really sets it apart from others that I carry (or have my eye on)?
  3. Does it fit with our JOYful Environmental Program?
  4. Pricing?

On Day One of the World Tea Expo, I came across one of the newest products from The Tea Spot and fell in love with the concept.  The Steep & Go is a small, portable filter that attaches to disposable water bottles.  Per The Tea Spot’s website, you add the loose-leaf tea to the water, screw on the Steep & Go, shake it up and wait 10 minutes for the tea to infuse.  Presto … in no time at all, you have tea.  Better yet, when you finish chugging that bottle, you simply add more water and re-steep.  Bonus: They are BPA free!  I mean … GENIUS!  They are also inexpensive (Suggested Retail Price: $6.95) and ridiculously easy to use (you don’t even have to boil water).  There is nothing out there like this right now.

Now, imagine me as a Disney character.  I’m walking through the World Tea Expo and see the Steep & Go.  The World Tea Expo fades away and in fades a bustling city street.  The messenger riding his bike has a Steep & Go Evian in the holster.  The sneaker-clad businesswomen power walking through their lunches each have a Steep & Go Arrowhead in hand.  The moms and dads, with young kids sliding and swinging at the park, have their Steep & Go Dasanis sitting in the stroller organizer.  Students filling the tables at the local cafes and coffeehouses, earbuds in, studying engineering or art, each have a Steep & Go Aquafina just to the right of their tablets.  See where I’m going with this?  This product would make it so simple for anyone, anywhere to take tea on the go!

So, why can’t I shake this feeling in the back of my head???  And again, why haven’t I placed my order?  Answer: I just can’t bring myself to endorse the use of disposable water bottles.  It’s that simple.  This product has been designed to fit the bottle top of a Dasani / Evian / Volvic-sized bottle and as you are well aware, re-usable water bottle necks are usually much larger.  Only about 13% of the 29 billion water bottles produced annually ever make it to a recycle bin.  On top of that, it takes 17 million barrels of crude oil to make that much plastic, plus transportation costs to distribute those bottles as well as the chemicals and contaminants that can be found in the water.  I have made a promise to my customers that I will do my best to provide products that are environmentally responsible and that I will run my business as efficiently as possible.  Offering a product like this one, while it meets all of the other criteria on my “what to look for in a new product” list, just doesn’t fit with the message I want my customers to get from Joy’s Teaspoon.

However, all hope is not lost.  I had the honor of speaking with Maria Uspenski, Founder of The Tea Spot, at the World Tea Expo and she absolutely understood my concerns.  In fact, she mentioned that they were currently working on a similar product that would fit most universally sized re-usable water bottles and that she expected it might be available by 2013.  I assure you, I will be the first in line to snag as many of those Steep & Go products as I can!  I applaud The Tea Spot’s efforts to make products that make tea brewing simpler and look forward to looking around the city and seeing thousands of people enjoying their tea on the go!

Green Living” by Suzanna Didier, Demand Media – NationalGeographic.com
The Tea Spot