*I don’t have any official photos from World Tea East yet. I think I might have been the only person who didn’t take pictures (we were asked not to). So as soon as I get some from World Tea Media I’ll post them up!
Our trip to Philadelphia started on Saturday. My husband and I figured if we were taking the time off we might as well stop and see relatives along the way. As luck would have it my Aunt and Uncle were more than happy to have us stay (many thanks to their daughter and her husband for also having us). Now if you read the tail of traveling to Seattle from Portland by my friend The Lazy Literatus (here - go now I’ll wait), you will understand what driving to New Jersey from Upstate, NY is like. We spent two and a half days with my Aunt and Uncle and even managed to drop in on some of my husband’s family – in all a good trip.
But Monday morning we were off on our way to Philadelphia! I was extremely excited as I had lived in Philly for two years after college and loved it. The public transportation system alone would make me want to move back, that and the vibe of the city…anyway…after getting lost a few times (someone wouldn’t listen to me even if I had lived there for two years) we arrived at the Philadelphia Downtown Marriott (the convention center is attached to the hotel). I naturally could not just go to our room to relax. I had to get our badges!
While I was at the registration desk I saw Beth from Teas, Etc. as well as a few other familiar faces and I instantly felt at home again. I returned to our room to find my husband napping. So I let him go and went off to explore. Well, exploring turned into ducking into a Starbucks for an Earl Grey Tea Latte and then dashing back to our room to make some calls and do a little work. The hotel was packed this time around….mostly with a graduation ceremony of some kind and just about every top person from Wendy’s. Interesting combination if ever there was one.
That evening we were planning to meet up with my cousin and MOH in our wedding two years before. She took us to this amazing Mexican eatery in North Philly called Loco Pez (amazing food). But while we were waiting for her we again saw Beth as well as John and Michael Harney who remembered us from the tour we were given a year ago. We had a nice chat and were invited to tour again before my cousin called to take us for eats. Amazing night – by the time we got back to the hotel I was ready to crash and I did until my wake-up call the following morning – Our 2nd Anniversary and the start of World Tea East.
I have to take a moment to thank my amazing husband for spending our Anniversary at a Tea related event. For those of you new to the blog he is NOT a tea drinker. Yes he will try anything I drink…but to him it all tastes like flavored water. Which is what I tell him beer is – so we’re even. But it was truly awesome of him to do this with me and I thank him for it!
At 10am that morning we found ourselves walking through the exhibition hall doors and all the tea one could drink. But first we stopped to pick up what I like to call the bag for your swag. I learned last year to bring a big bag due to the number of samples handed out (this would not be the case/problem this year).
My husband asked where we should go first. He knew I had a plan of attack – which went out the window once I walked into the hall. I simply told him I had to start my morning like I usually did at home – with something from Harney & Sons. I also noticed the hall was quite empty and figured we’d then get some time to continue chatting with them.
So we found their booth which, like others was considerably smaller than the year before. But we did get plenty of time to chat with them. I also sampled some of their Earl Grey Imperial and asked about anything new and exciting they had to share. Michael informed me about the Ambessa line created by Marcus Samuelsson. I had heard of it. He also asked if I had heard about their two Scottish Teas – Scottish Morn and Scottish Afternoon? I had in fact purchased both over the Summer. I suggest checking them out. Knowing that my husband wasn’t a huge hot tea drinker Michael offered him a nice sized sample of their Black Tea Ice tea. I have to tell you that is how you make and keep customers. We also wandered off with a nice sample pouch for me to review later containing favorites like Hot Cinnamon Spice, Paris, and Earl Grey Supreme.
We moved along to try some Chai from Nature’s Guru. These are an instant Chai, I tried the Masala and it was very tasty for an instant Chai. I was told they are currently looking to get the product into cafes and local super markets. So keep an eye out! I now wanted to wander to a few different booths before I made a full lap of the hall. This took me again past the Harney booth where James Norwood Pratt was now standing chatting with John Harney. I gave a little wave and attempted to move on when I was stopped by Mr. Harney asking me if I knew Norwood? I knew of him, but I’d never really done more than say hello and give a little wave. His wife, Valerie, and I on the other hand had chatted at length the year before.
I should back up a little. The day before I did a little shopping in Philly and picked up this shirt and hat…
Well, little did I know that hat would be such a huge hit. I only wore it because I figured it would help anyone from twitter, steepster, etc find me! I didn’t know I would now
be known as the Gal in the Grey Hat by Mr. Harney and Mr. Pratt!!
So Mr. Harney asked James Norwood Pratt if he had met me? He had not, but within minutes it felt as though we were old friends. I was asked to stop by later to speak to him at his table if I had time. I wasn’t going to turn that down and said I would do just that. My husband and I then went in search of Teas, Etc to see what they had brewing…they always have something going. They also had one of the busier booths at the show I noticed. It was now near 11am and still things were not as busy as I recalled from the year before.
I sipped some tea with Beth’s son Chris and we caught up from last year. He also told me he knew I would be voting for one of their teas later on in the World Champion Tasting event. He was right, I did. It was good tea! Next I had to try the teas offered by Vintage Tea Works! I’d heard a lot about them from those who went to Vegas and I was not missing out!
I tried the White Tea Riesling, Rooibos Noir, and Pu-erh Cabernet. They all tasted like the wine they were named for! Brandon truly out did himself with these teas. Plus my husband gave in, tried them, and LIKED them! Needless to say some of these will be ordered soon. We wandered some more to see offerings from Rishi and Adagio (they have a new Zodiac line that sounded interesting).
After those stops we wandered back to the area set up for Mr. Pratt to sell and sign his books. My husband was good enough to let me get one of the books!
We were able to chat with Mr. Prat and his wife for a considerable amount of time. More than I would ever dream of having. So in some ways it was good that the event was as small as it was! Plus Mr. Pratt signed my copy too!
By 2pm my husband needed to eat and geek out on his computer. Which included buying and working with my new domain name! SO I was on my own. I stopped by Capital Teas booth and chatted with their social media man who it turns out I’ve exchanged many tweets with. While here I got a text from Stacy owner of Butiki Teas asking where I was. We had said we would try to connect while at the event. I told her where I was….but the tea dragged me off down to Royal Teas of Kenya. I should mention I ran into Nicole of Tea for Me Please in my travels. But lost sight of her after that.
I did a piece on Joy from Royal Teas od Kenya last year after World Tea East and let me tell you she is simply lovely. She was even good enough to send me home with some samples of two teas I haven’t tried before! (Look for reviews soon) It was here that Stacy finally caught up with me.
They way we got along you would think we were old friends and I love that about tea people! She even brought me some samples of her teas which was above and beyond what she needed to do (reviews of those soon too)! Stacy and I wandered the rest of the show together chatting and taking in the tea. Somehow this brought me back full circle to the Harney booth where I finally caught up with Jo Johnson aka A Gift of Tea and she also had something for me. Ok it was for my niece – her latest book!
By this time it was nearly 3:30pm and most folks seemed to be headed either back to their rooms or home like I was (due to some house issues at home we had to leave a day early). I said my goodbye’s to Stacy and Jo and made my way out to catch with my husband to begin the long ride back home.
In all I enjoyed myself, made some new connections and reconnected with old friends. It was something I din’t think I would have been able to do if the show was larger. But it did look like the buyers and shop owners were making great connections in order to bring quality tea to their customers.
Many thanks to the folks at World Tea Media for again allowing me to attend this event!
*Other tea companies not mentioned in this post will be mentioned further when their tea samples are reviewed!