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World Tea Expo Gathers the Tea Community for Bountiful Business Deals, Trailblazing Education & Networking

Expo Names Tim Smith the Top Tea Infusionist; Attendees Ponder Tea vs. Coffee Retail

LAS VEGAS, Nev. (June 15, 2012)--- World Tea Expo, the largest, global B2B event for the industry, covered every facet of tea while attracting top businesses from more than 50 countries for a product-packed exhibit hall, insightful educational sessions and plentiful networking opportunities. The Expo, held June 1 - 3 at the Las Vegas Convention Center in Las Vegas, Nev., assembled highly-qualified professionals and buyers, who sought first-rate suppliers, intelligence on the latest trends, the newest teas from across the globe and the freshest tea wares.

Sascha Karimpour, president, Dethlefsen & Balk Inc., said, "Once again, World Tea Expo was a great show for us. Looking at our contacts, we met approximately 30 percent of our current customers and about 70 percent new and very qualified leads --- enough to ensure more stable growth for the next year for our North American business."

John Chaffey, director of sales at The Metropolitan Tea Co., shared, "The 2012 World Tea Expo in Las Vegas could be viewed as a marked change in the general direction of the economy. Buyers were more prepared, educated, focused and ready to purchase when compared to the past few tentative years. The usual mix of familiar faces was fresh with new players. Eager new attendees added energy to the growing tea marketplace. The 'quest' for tea is alive and well at World Tea Expo."

Brandon Ford, owner of Vintage TeaWorks, said, "I could not have chosen a better forum to launch my product line than 2012 World Tea Expo. The broad demographics of the attendees allowed my products to receive the exposure we need to be successful. From the small tea shop owner to the buyers for major specialty retailers, I received great leads and was introduced to professionals who were prepared to place orders. As a first time exhibitor, I am convinced this will be my must attend event every year. I had such a great response from the World Tea Expo attendees that I cannot wait until 2012 World Tea East in Philadelphia."

Karin Zajac, partner at Free Tea, noted, "This year's World Tea Expo was the perfect opportunity to build exposure for our Free Tea brand and product. We made some great contacts and received very helpful feedback. As newbies to the industry, the advice and helpful tips we received from our seasoned peers were priceless. We are looking forward to next year for 2013 World Tea Expo." Chairman Mr. M.G.V.K. Bhanu, Tea Board of India, said, "This is the best professionally-managed tea expo that I have personally attended so far."

Kim Jage, sales and marketing director, World Tea Media, a division of F+W Media, organizer of the event, explained, "World Tea Expo has successfully helped numerous international professionals learn how to profit from tea, focus on quality tea and make key business decisions, and this year was no exception. The feedback on 2012 World Tea Expo, from the attendees and exhibitors, solidifies the Expo as the most comprehensive exhibition, educational event and business launch-pad in the world of tea."

The 2012 World Tea Expo, which kicked off National Iced Tea Month, attracted nearly 4,000 established tea room owners, coffeehouse proprietors, retailers, foodservice and beverage professionals, spa managers, hoteliers and grocers. In addition, Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn G. Goodman proclaimed June as "World Tea Month," in honor of the event's 10-year anniversary.

Expo Asks: Will Tea Ever Be as Big as Coffee?

One of the most buzzed about educational sessions at 2012 World Tea Expo was a panel discussion that questioned, "Will tea ever be as big as coffee?" Panelists included: David Bellasario, president of Teaopia; Charles Cain, vice president, Tazo merchant and operations, Starbucks; Joseph Cugine, president, Argo Tea; and David De Candia, senior manager tea, Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf. Market experts inquired: Will the size of the tea retail market catch up to coffee? Will coffee retailers absorb much of the projected growth in tea sales? The matter continues to be a much-discussed focus for the tea trade, especially as the industry is experiencing a new breed of tea retail chains that are finding success in multiple locations in the United States.

George Jage, founder and director of World Tea Media, said, "We led off the Expo with this session not only to set the tone for the conference and Expo, but for the industry for the next year. Tea has the potential and will ultimately exceed the sales of coffee in the United States. However, with the dynamics of the growth of specialty and premium tea, it will be much different than what we saw with specialty coffee in the early and mid-'90s."

Jage added, "Currently, tea is seventh in throat share, as measured by gallons consumed per capita. Close on the heels at No. 6 is fruit juices, moving closer to coffee at the No. 5 spot. But the esteemed panel felt that it is not how much, but what kind of tea and at what price that mattered more. When we looked at the total number of retail locations, coffee has saturated the market with over 25,000 locations in the U.S. --- 11,000+ of which are Starbucks. Tea retail locations are estimated at only around 3,500, and the panel unanimously felt that we will not see 25,000 tea rooms/retail locations in the United States. The coffee retailers alone are seeing tea increase as a part of overall sales, into double digits from the low single digits five years ago. This and other channels will fuel the growth of tea sales. When looking at overall tea sales --- estimated at $8 billion with coffee estimates ranging from $25 to $35 billion --- three of the four panelists felt tea is positioned to exceed coffee sales by 2017. The lone coffee retailer on the panel took the fifth, to avoid incriminating himself."

Other seminars and workshops looked at: tea science updates; how to put together a comparative tea and wine tasting; tea and health; applying principles of taste biology to the appreciation of teas and food pairings; evaluating grocery store tea blends; and improving the tea customer's palate. All of the educational sessions were a part of the event's "No Repeat" policy, in honor of the 10-year anniversary. The Expo's entire 2012 curriculum covered new ground and the hottest topics facing the industry.

Beau Bernstein, director of marketing, Rishi Tea, said, "The offering of courses and training seminars for new businesses and executives alike was perhaps the best list of subjects in years, and tea sellers would do well to visit the World Tea Expo just for the conferences and potential insights to be gleaned, for improving their business. In addition, attendees and exhibitors alike were pleased with the level of quality and diversity on display this year --- not just in courses but in range of teas. We look forward to an even bigger show in 2013."

Tea Infusion Challenge

One key event at 2012 World Tea Expo was the 2012 Tea Infusion Challenge, held on June 3 from noon to 2:30 p.m. Tim Smith, chief leaf of the retail/wholesale company The Tea Smith, Omaha, Neb., took the top spot. The competitive event determined Smith as the best Infusionist - a tea professional (non-manufacturer) that has comprehensive product knowledge, experienced brewing skills and innate talent to best express teas' characteristics and intended cups.

Smith said, "There's so much more to tea than just placing a tea bag in a cup, and many tea consumers do not know that. So the Tea Infusion Challenge does a great job of reinforcing education and training within the industry, so we can share with customers how each tea has its own character --- how it's grown, its origin or where it's grown, how it's traditionally enjoyed at origin. The Challenge brings laser-focus to how important it is for a tea business to become highly familiar with its teas and the related processes and customs. At The Tea Smith, we train all of our employees in our teas, and we think this Challenge promotes and reminds us how essential it is for a tea company to communicate with customers and instruct them on the diversity of tea, tastes and preparation methods."

The Tea Infusion Challenge second place spot went to Charles Dawson, education manager and purchaser for traditional teas from The Domestic Goddess, a tea retailer in Everson, Wash. Johnathan Munsayac, owner and director of operations at Tranquil Tea Lounge in Fullerton, Calif., was named the third place winner.

Overall, the exciting and interactive Tea Infusion Challenge demonstrated how the same tea can taste drastically different depending on the method used to steep the tea, as contenders approached tea in both scientific and artistic ways, embracing tea's nuances. Official judges rated each contender on: quality of infusion, such as liquor color, taste balance and harmonious extraction, as well as knowledge, professionalism, passion for tea, attention to detail and overall performance. The technical judge evaluated water temperature management, tea measurement, timing, pour precision and workflow.

A Strong International Presence

Additionally, aT (Korea Agro-Fisheries & Food Trade Corp.), a Korean government agency that supports and promotes food companies and farmers, brought the largest-ever delegation of Korean tea producers and exporters to the United States for 2012 World Tea Expo. The Tea Board of India, the government organization for the all-around development of India's fine tea industry, also gathered a significant delegation of high-profile tea producers. Both delegations concentrated on enhancing demand and increasing global exports for their tea products.

And just like the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority (LVCVA) gathers people from around the world and welcomes them to Southern Nevada, so did World Tea Expo with its Wu-Wo Tea Ceremony, appropriately hosted by the LVCVA. This special, not-often-seen-in-the-U.S. tea ceremony encouraged conference delegates --- regardless of tea expertise --- to partake and appreciate tea. The Taiwanese ceremony was created by Grand Master Tsai Rong Tsang, Lu-Yu Tea Culture Institute, and participants simultaneously served and received tea --- silently.

Honoring 10 Years

To recognize the milestone 10-year anniversary of World Tea Expo, as well as leadership and dedication for tea, George and Kim Jage were presented with a special World Tea Award, presented by the global tea community and the exhibitors of World Tea Expo. The award was presented during a special reception for attendees on the evening of June 2, and it was organized and presented by Gail Gastelu, publisher of The Tea House Times, who worked with World Tea Expo exhibitors and key leaders to coordinate the award. FaithAnn Bailes, part of the original SFG Group that organized World Tea Expo; tea industry author James Norwood Pratt; and World Tea Expo Advisory Board, Beth Johnston of Teas Etc., helped present the crystal globe statuette that featured an etching of the World Tea Expo 10-year anniversary logo.

2012 World Tea East, 2013 World Tea Expo

Up next are 2012 World Tea East and 2013 World Tea Expo.The objective of World Tea East is to support and fuel the expanding demand for specialty tea and related products in the Northeast, mid-Atlantic and Southeast United States, and provide solid tea education. The event takes place Oct. 2 -3, in Philadelphia, Penn. at the Pennsylvania Convention Center. Register at www.WorldTeaEast.com. The 2013 World Tea Expo takes place June 7-9, 2013 at the Las Vegas Convention Center. See www.WorldTeaExpo.com to register.

About World Tea Media

World Tea Media is an integrated media company dedicated to providing business solutions to the global tea industry. Events include the annual World Tea Expo, the largest and most prominent event for the industry, and World Tea East, the regional event for the northeast, mid-Atlantic and southeast United States. World Tea Media also produces the North American Tea Championship and World Tea News. The North American Tea Championship is the only professional and independent competition that distinguishes the highest quality and best tasting teas commercially available in the North American marketplace. World Tea News is an online portal that offers in-depth news, features and business insight for the global tea industry. World Tea Media is headquartered in Las Vegas, Nev. www.worldteamedia.com

About F+W Media, Inc.

F+W Media is a community-focused, content creator and marketer of products and services for enthusiasts. The Company offers a diversified portfolio of books, ebooks, magazines, events, competitions, ecommerce, education, video and more. F+W Media serves 20 different markets, including writing, fine art, genealogy, antiques and collectibles, design, outdoors and horticulture. Its growing portfolio includes print and online properties, free and for-fee subscription sites, educational programs, competitions and events. www.fwmedia.com