Four Stages Tea

Visited World Tea Expo 2024; Eager to Share Exciting Highlights

On Wednesday, March 13th me (Jenna) and my partner boarded a plane for the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, Nevada. However, Black Jack was set aside for black tea, as our main reason for going was the Las Vegas Convention Center, where for 3 days it becomes home to The World Tea Convention and the Bar and Restaurant Expo 2024.

I couldn’t believe my eyes when I got to the convention center and saw that they used my photo from last year as the main poster out front!

During Last year’s Tea Convention 2023 Four Stages was lucky enough to participate in the Tea Tycoon Competition, where Four Stages placed in the final 3 of the Sustainability category. Tea Entrepreneurs to Battle It out in Devan Shah Tea Tycoons Competition at World Tea Expo in Las Vegas | World Tea News

Tea Tycoons 2023

It was an exciting time, and this year was no different! I was excited to reconnect with some friends I made last year and share with one another our triumphs and struggles from the year past and gain some fresh perspective. I decided to take part in the Tea Incubator again, a tract aimed for those who want to ascend to new heights in their tea knowledge and business.

On day one I took a seat for the Tea Primer certification, a 4-hour class where I sat down and sampled 6 different types of tea. We learned evaluation and preparation techniques drawn from Kyle Stewart’s creative collaborations with renowned chefs, sommeliers, sensory evaluation scientists, and worldwide tea experts. Pretention was off the table, and the highlight of my takeaway was that there is no wrong way to taste tea! We all have different pallets and personal experiences that influence how we taste tea and that is totally okay. You might love a tea because the taste reminds you of the smell of your grandmother’s pantry in your childhood home or tastes chocolatey and nutty and almond Hershey bars are your favorite. It doesn’t matter! That is actually part of the fun!

We started by smelling the aroma of the dried leaf and infused leaf, recorded what we smelled, and then recorded the appearance. Next, we tried the tea by smelling the cup and then slurping the tea (it’s encouraged! It helps open up the olfactory system) and holding the tea in our mouth for a few seconds before finally swallowing it. We recorded the aroma, appearance, body, mouthfeel, flavors, finish, and finally, the overall impression. It sure took me a while to fill out the chart for the first few, but after a while it became less intimidating as all anxiety that I would get a wrong answer went away. A favorite that I tried was a white peony special grade tea from the Fujian Province, China called Bai Mu Dan. Would you like Four Stages to introduce a white tea to the mix? Email me jenna@fourstagestea.com 🙂

All the tea we got to sample with one of the tasting guides we used to help us.

The next few days were spent walking around the expo floor where I found some beautiful new steeping accessories I would like to introduce, tried some amazing tea, and the highest grade matcha I have ever tried in my life. It was so smooth and such a treat! Have you ever tried a yuzu matcha latte? I am a fan.  My favorite part, aside from all the tea samples, is getting to talk to various tea merchants from around the world and other business owners. Here is my friend Chris, who owns Bay Leaf Tea Co, a Toronto based company that sources hand-plucked bay leaves from Barbados. His bay leaves are amazing! Here is him trying one of the tea cocktails that was made at the tea bar in the middle of the expo hall.

Chris, Bay Leaf Tea Co

The tea workshops did not disappoint this year. Don Mei, a youtube celebrity in the tea world with 110 K subscribers was there teaching  a class on social media strategy. Billy Dietz, who was a master blender at Davids tea taught a class on blending and I got a signed copy of his book. I took some great classes on tea trends and got to sit down and talk with Chris, head of tea at Starbuck’s who was a wealth of knowledge. I’m looking forward to bringing what I learned to Four Stages and am already looking forward to next years expo!