Here we go again! Education, enthusiasm, entrepreneurship, and yes, excitement as the World Tea Expo approaches once again in Long Beach, California!

Awards, achievements, affiliates, accolades, along with a world-class advisory board consisting of Gail Gastelu, Mim Enck, Charlie Cain, Beth Johnston, (to name just a few), are some of the things tea people do when they get together. Yes, they acknowledge and appreciate each other, and all the great things they’ve been up to over the years. There is also an academy, World Tea Academy. This academy allows you to study and learn about the world of tea from the comfort of your home, in front of your computer. Not to worry, you will also be sent teas to taste and experience, as well as new friends/colleagues to meet.

Championships, courses, classes, core education sessions, and of course, camaraderie! Every expo is a reunion, and it is also an introduction to what’s new and trending, and also to who’s new. Over 80% of those in attendance are there to see what is new, and every year new people are drawn into the wonder-filled world of tea.

Teachings, tastings — touching and sensing tea almost to the point of overwhelm — just the way we like it!

dharlene tea expo 15Take Me To Tea” was the name of the first tea expo I ever attended — and I was immediately hooked! Yes, that’s a photo of my original binder from the year 2004 — I have not missed an expo since. I found the people I met at my first expo to be kind, helpful, knowledgeable, open to share ideas and experiences, and overall, extremely welcoming. I will admit that they spoke a language I didn’t fully understand but I had signed up for classes and was learning every day of the event, and by the end of my first tea expo I felt I had indeed scratched the surface of tea — but wanted more.

Exhibitors were very generous with samples and give-aways, and with all my purchases, getting home to San Diego was indeed a challenge. I never traveled on an airplane again to another expo after that! Driving allowed me to take home all my gifts and purchases easily.

Many of the people I met and took classes with will be life-long friends, and returning year after year, we took more classes together. Some of us have traveled to tea-growing countries together, and still to this day – over 11 years later, I look forward to finding them, catching up, sharing stories, encouraging new endeavors, reinforcing dreams, and wishing them all well until the next expo.

We are friends, we are alumni, and very much like a family: tea friends become like family, and every year the family grows. It’s easy to approach a stranger at a tea expo and strike up a conversation, and by the time you walk away, you’ve made a new friend. Some of those new friends you will keep for life.tea expo 14

Please enjoy this three minute video of some of my tea adventures, and several of the tea expos I have attended.  Watching,  you will get at least a glimpse of the quality of friendly folks one finds at these expos.

We are all one in the world of tea. The tea industry needs each and every one of us: we each bring our own unique gifts and talents to all our tea endeavors and this is the recipe for success. Collaboration – not competition – is the answer.

Image 1 courtesy of Dharlene Marie Fahl

Loading and Image 2 courtesy of Rajiv Lochan.