World Tea Expo 2015 Recap

State of the Tea Union (Image)by Naomi Rosen

World Tea Expo 2015, held in Long Beach, CA, was a wrap on May 8, 2015, and what a show it was. Over 100 exhibitors, tasting sessions, unveiling of the World Tea Awards, educational offerings every morning, and a meetup of the US League of Tea Growers! Sorry it has taken me so long to get the recap out…but here it is my friends!

We kicked off the meetup with a slideshow of trends, happenings, and updates from current US tea growers. If you have Powerpoint, you can catch a peek at the slideshow below:

State of the Tea Union 2015

Once the State of the Union was completed, Eva Lee gave us the big announcement about the TOTUS Awards, we had had a chance to hear from Mark Adams about becoming a member of the League, and Nigel Melican updated us about the USLTG elections (held in June).

We had so much information to share, we actually ran out of time for our Q & A! So, we’d like to host it on here? What questions do you have for the USLTG?

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Grower Call To Action: Chilli Thrips and Tea Scales

ThripsDr. Chen, of LSU, in conjunction with other university professionals, is leading a USDA pest management alternative program on thrips and has approached because our tea growing members could be very helpful by providing samples. Members sending samples will be kept anonymous and data will be summarized by general geographic regions – several states will be grouped in a region so specific locations of the pests will not be disclosed. Timeline wise, now is a good time to observe these pests. Dr. Chen’s letter is below:

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What is TOTUS?

TOTUS logoby Naomi Rosen

Raise your hand if you are still running on the high of World Tea Expo? (***Raises hand!) The offerings this year did not disappoint:

  • The USLTG hosted a well attended meetup.
  • Nigel Melican led an informative and thought provoking class on how to Sucessfully Grow Tea in the US (more details to come).
  • Selena Ahmed led an incredible class on Sustainability and Climate Mitigation in Tea Growing (more details to come).
  • Jason McDonald led a successful Tea Planting Workshop at the Tealet House right after Expo.

It’d be hard to imagine something that could top the line-up above, but I left Expo buzzing about this news: The TOTUS Awards are going to crown a US grown tea! 

What is TOTUS

TOTUS stands for “Tea of the United States”. Per their website, “Now that there is an increase in domestic tea production aligned with an American origin initiative, we hope that the TOTUS Awards 2015 will encourage those who have pioneered US tea farming to gain national recognition for their uniquely crafted teas and further educate consumers supporting domestic tea agriculture.”

So how is this going to work? 

It’s pretty simple. The competition is open to all US growers, small or large, Commercial or Non-Commercial. You simply have to be able to provide a tea sample weighing 36 grams. Commerical growers will submit their samples ($100 entry fee per sample) into 4 different categories: White, Green, Oolong, and Black. Non-commercial growers are able to enter the same categories ($40 entry fee per sample), but will compete against other non-commercial growers.

  • Commercial Grower – Tea Growers that produce and sell a minimum of 5 pounds of 100% US grown Camellia sinensis tea per year.
  • Non-Commerical Grower – Beginning Farmers, Researchers, and/or Hobbyists that produce and sell less than 5 pounds of 100% US grown Camellia sinensis tea per year.

Growers will need to submit an entry form by October 16, 2015, and all samples will have to be in hand by October 26, 2015. For more details about the submission of teas, please visit the TOTUS Rules & Info page

Judging and Awards

The judging process will be held November 4, 2015 and is closed to the public. There are 5 esteemed jurors on the panel including Jane Pettigrew, Kevin Gascoyne, and Selena Ahmed. TOTUS Award winners will be announced online on November 7, 2015, and a celebratory event is tentatively being scheduled in Hawaii for that day as well.

Commercial growers will be competing for a cash prize in each category (White, Green, Oolong, and Black) as well as a public announcement on Totus1Awards.com.

  • 1st Place $1,000
  • 2nd Place $500
  • 3rd Place $250 

Non-commecial growers will be competing for certificate awards in each category (White, Green, Oolong, and Black) as well as a public announcement on Totus1Awards.com.

  • 1st Place certificates 
  • 2nd Place certificates 
  • 3rd Place certificates 

Did I mention that the US League of Tea Growers is a proud Camellia Sinensis Level Sponsor and we encourage our friends to look into supporting this event as well?

So, let’s hear it! How exciting is this? In just a few months, we’ll have US tea growers going head to head and standards for US grown tea will start to take form. These are exciting times my friends, exciting times indeed.