On opening day, June 7, 2013, an ever-growing audience of 60 tea enthusiasts gathered in hall no. 256 of the World Tea Expo in Las Vegas. The occasion was the Cup Warming event organised by Babette Donalson, filling in for Dan Robertson of International Tea Cuppers Club, (ITCC). The number of teas cupped grew to five: Japan; Taiwan; India; and new Tea Cupper member region, Hawaii.
Going by strength of teas, first we had the newly introduced, hand made teas, from a non-traditional tea growing region of India called Doke, from the province of Bihar – the land of Buddha. Appropriately called Doke Rolling Thunder – named after the Doke River which flows through the north eastern region called Pothia. Pothia is part of the administrative district of Kishangunj. Doke Rolling Thunder is a very slightly oxidized oolong bordering on white tea, which is rolled by hand and dried thereafter under the sun and then by charcoal fire. Rajiv Lochan, the pioneer tea planter of this area, presented these teas. The chief brewer of the event was Phil Tea Holmans, from Canada.
Then we had a hand rolled Tamomi cha from Japan, presented by Sugimoto Corporation. The lady tea master, Ms. Sugimoto, hand-rolls the tea herself. She brewed it for the audience this year as her son, Kyohei, described the tea at length. For cost reasons, only a few drops per person were available for testing, but these were hugely enjoyed by the gathering. This tea is real expensive, by all standards. It is marketed by the Sugimoto Corporation in America while the rest of the family produces and packs this tea on their own plantation in the Shizhuoka area of Japan.
Next was an Alisan oolong from Taiwan produced by Mountain Tea Company, a family owned tea business. Presented and explained by Chicco, it is a very delicate and rare tea which the family produces, packs, and markets under their own brand name.
Glenburn was the next, from Darjeeling. It was presented by Glenburn plantation manager, Sanjay Sharma, who attended the World Tea Expo for the first time. WTE is where the famous Glenburn Resort’s Sudhir Prakash family regularly markets tea and tea tourism from their booth very very successfully. Glenburn has become the hallmark of tea holiday. This tea was a pure delight; its name was, also very appropriately, Moonlight Delight.
These four teas, along with a presentation by Elyse Petersen, of Tealet (the tornado fairy girl of Hawaii!), on tea marketing via her revolutionary e-platform, took up the entire one hour allotted to us. Elyse’s brother, Michael, along with Katherine Wilson of Word Source International, documented the event.
After asking for additional time, the audience enjoyed one wonderful-looking silvery-tipped clonal tea from the famous Jungpana tea estate in Darjeeling. The official tea of Japan Airlines, there was a scramble to get a share of the small sample from the 300g tea pack sent by the garden Manager Mr. Mudgil through Rajiv Lochan, of Lochan Tea.
To sum up, it was a great event, keeping the growing tradition of ITCC’s popularity in the World Tea Expo every year since its inception in 2011.
We all missed Dan Robertson this year.