Champions of the Tea Industry|
I recently attended the 2004 Take Me 2 Tea Expo East in September in Providence, Rhode Island. This was the first Take Me 2 Tea Expo held on the East Coast, which was launched by Expo originators Faith Taylor, George Jage and Steven Taylor as a follow-up to the major success of their first two Expos in Las Vegas. I have never seen so many women at one business convention in my entire life, some of whom were already in the tea business, but many more who were sincerely interested in starting their own. Visitors to the booth either told us of their plans to open a tea shop or salon, start up a wholesaling tea business on-line or to improve their current business. These people were eager, enthusiastic and thirsty for education. Not only was I accumulating information for the magazine but also for a neighbor of mine who is, herself, planning to open a tea salon.
The symposium rooms were full; speakers were well informed and passionate, as were their audience. Bruce Richardson of Elmwood Inn in Kentucky spoke to the audience about the hard facts of opening a business - the gasps were audible when he stated that, legally speaking, they were not opening a tea salon, they were “opening a restaurant.” It made me wonder if all of these people were totally aware of the tough business they are getting themselves into. Meanwhile on the exhibition floor, both exhibitors and attendees were happy: orders were taken, and information was exchanged by all.
I also returned just this week from the U.S. Tea Association Convention, where I couldn’t help but be amazed at the global initiatives taken up by the industry dealing with issues like pesticide control, regulation and compliance with government standards. Tea industry members, including those who are competitors with one another, work side by side to ensure that issues concerning each segment of the industry are addressed. For example, this was the case relating to the industry’s compliance with U.S. Customs concerning the Bio-Terrorism Act. Speaking at the convention was Cathy Sauceda, who personally answered various firms’ concerns dealing with the new rules and regulations.
The speakers pulled no punches at this show, critiquing the industry’s shortcomings, as well as offering advice for product innovation.
Shashank Goel, chairman of STI (Specialty Tea Institute) reported on the progress of the Specialty Tea Certification Program, which will continue to be offered at more tea and coffee shows and events in the upcoming year.
It makes me proud to say that our magazine is a member of the Tea Association of the USA. I see real motivation in this Association to be proactive with industry concerns, saving time and money by banding together for the good of the industry. If we don’t have a strong Association looking over our industry affairs, we may have no industry. Membership may not always directly affect your profits, but if there is no tea industry. . . where will we be then?
Editor & Co-Publisher
Tea & Coffee - November/December, 2004
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