Every year I reflect on the major changes and shifts I am seeing around me in the tea universe. My 2016 (Transparency) and 2018 (Death of Direct Trade) forecasts were mostly focused on the ways of doing new tea business, but my forecast for 2019 is more about how these established new tea businesses are connecting with their customers. As is seen in many different industries and in modern art by such heavy hitters as Meow Wolf, I am seeing an exciting interest by tea business owners to engage tea with the community through immersive experiences.

Immersive experiences are multi-sense experiences, often created by artists, to transport their guest or viewer to an alternative universe. Modern technology, DIY hacks, and established method acting techniques are used to engage the viewer to become a part of the art. Over the past few years, marketing interests have discovered that immersive experiences are a great way to engage with consumers in an age where the internet and media have made it hard for advertisers to be heard. Creating a spectacle that can attract various groups of people is great for a marketer that is trying to communicate a message or introduce a product.

In the context of tea business, immersive experiences will be used to engage consumers that may have not identified with being a tea drinker. Through music, art, food, or other various modalities an immersive experience can get a person to sit down at a tea table to focus on learning to appreciate tea.

I have been creating immersive experiences around tea for years, but this past holiday season I took it to a whole new level to set a benchmark of how immersive experiences can be used to introduce tea. I hosted a holiday party in my Las Vegas-based warehouse titled “The Gingerbread Tea House”. I used DIY art to convert my tea room into a gingerbread house that contained various art and activities as well as actors playing elves from the North Pole throughout the event. The event also included sweets from an up-and-coming local chef and dance party with electronic music. With all these activities, 15 gallons of tea was consumed among the 50 guests, and many walked away with a newfound love for tea. It was like an event never seen before, no attendee knew what to expect. In their joy and surprise, they were very receptive to learning about and appreciating tea.

I look forward to seeing all the creative ways tea business owners find to engage new lovers. These will come in the form of educational workshops with local businesses, art galleries, immersive theater, dinner experiences, and many more. My team will be producing the World Tea and Music Festival which will follow the World Tea Expo on June 13, 2019; where we will be staging several immersive experiences. Our hope is that the attendees will enjoy themselves, but more importantly, will become inspired to create similar experiences for their community.

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