I just came back from the World Tea Expo held in Las Vegas. It was a very busy Expo featuring all types of workshops from tea mocktail and cocktail blending to hosting a tea tasting.
I flew out late in the afternoon, right before dinner time. I arrived in Las Vegas late in the evening. The airline was late in pushing off from the gate. The air is very dry and very hot. At 10:00 pm it is still hot; 94F to be exact. I am excited about going to the World Tea Expo tomorrow. Everything that I would need for the Expo was set out, including a sweater for cold conference rooms. Afterwards, I immediately fell asleep
Yeah, it is conference day! I walked from my hotel to a new area of the conference center called The Loop. There is a free shuttle service from the back end of the conference center to the front of the conference center. Tesla cars drive from an underground garage below the convention center, to drop off/pick up points and then return to the underground garage. Alternating neon lights flood the garage and tunnel area in shades of green, blue, and red.
I added a workshop at the conference registration table and then proceeded to the class. On the way to the class, there was a pop up booth serving hot tea. Even though it was 108F outside, it was freezing in the conference center and hot tea was just the thing to warm me up! I grabbed a cup of hot tea and then went to my workshop and sat down next to a friend who also works in the tea world.
The workshop covered mocktails and cocktails that incorporated tea. It was interesting to learn about the similarities between tea and other beverages. Terroir affects so many beverages: tea, coffee, wine, water, and even spirits (liquor). Several takeaways that I gleaned from the workshop included that the appearance of a beverage is important, and to be exact in measuring liquids.
I headed to the conference floor as soon as the workshop was over. The World Tea Expo was hosted in conjunction with the Nightclub and Bar Show. The opening of the Expo Hall was a celebration. There was music, a countdown, energy and excitement that was contagious. The Expo Hall was full of music, people greeting each other, vendors who were welcoming people to their booths. I stopped in at my favorite tea booths to say hello and catch up on their business. All agreed that the last year has been a long, lonely,and laborious year to get through. It was wonderful to see business acquaintances again.
Racing back to the workshops and classes warmed me up a little but I was still cold and welcomed some more hot tea. I took several more classes related to tea: the chemistry of extraction and making simple syrups, and how to pivot a business in uncertain times. My brain was overstimulated with all of the new knowledge and the intense concentration of learning new things. I headed back to the Expo Hall to a tea tasting area and sampled more tea.
Dinner time was spent with friends and acquaintances at a wonderful restaurant that I frequent when I visit Las Vegas. It is called the FireFly Tapas Kitchen and Bar. The service was great, and the manager stopped by our table to see if we needed anything and wanted our feedback on the food. The food was phenomenal. If I could have licked the plate clean and not be considered rude, I would have done it! The combination of spices and ingredients blended well to create delicious plates of food. There was something for everyone. Hours later I walked away from the table with a full tummy, happy heart, and content to be back at my favorite restaurant. I said goodnight, went back to the hotel, and fell sound asleep. I dreamt of food that evening!
The last day of the World Tea Expo. I took several more classes. One of the classes related to hosting a tea tasting. The speaker was engaging and reminded the class that a tea tasting is a wonderful opportunity to reconnect with people after the challenging year the world has experienced. Another class that I attended was full of usable and helpful suggestions for coffee drinkers who may want to add tea to their repertoire. The speaker was extremely knowledgeable in which teas have specific flavor profiles that a coffee drinker might be looking for in a tea.
Afternoon time was spent walking the Expo Hall and sampling tea at the tea tasting bar. My friend and I decided to go to afternoon tea to warm up after walking the cold Expo Hall. We went to a cute tea room called LaPostte tea room. We had an afternoon tea which included tea, finger sandwiches, scones, and desserts. Another food location where I walked away with a full tummy and a happy heart! The tea room had note cards for purchase and a mail slot organizer on the back wall. The clever idea they designed for customers was to purchase a note, write the message and then place it in the appropriate day of the month slot that you would like the tea room to mail the note.
We went our separate ways after tea and before meeting more conference attendees for dinner. I went to the Bellagio hotel to walk through the gardens inside the hotel prior to meeting. The hotel rotates the gardens quarterly and each garden has an appropriate seasonal theme. This summer’s gardens were eye catching, and ingenious. The tree house was incredible and made my flimsy childhood efforts pale in comparison. I had just enough time to watch the fountains outside and in front of the casino before meeting people for dinner. The fountains drew a crowd in front of the casino, replete with ooohhhs and aaaaahs.
Dinner time was well spent back at Firefly Tapas Kitchen and Bar. The restaurant is close to the convention center and close to the majority of hotels that my fellow conference attendees and I usually stay at during Expo time. No surprises tonight. The food was exceptional and service impeccable, as usual. The manager remembered us and was happy to see us again at his restaurant.
Another full day of learning, drinking tea and eating. Another night dreaming of food. Another busy day ahead flying home.
I hurried out the hotel door to catch my ride to the airport. I had a morning flight and wanted to get there in plenty of time to make it to my gate. The crowds were not bad at the airport and I had enough time before boarding to purchase a cup of tea.
The long and short of it was that I never left Las Vegas that day. Due to weather and a mechanical issue, the plane couldn’t leave until late in the evening. My connecting flight was lost and in fact, if I were to fly out to the connecting city, I would have been stranded for six days until the next available flight to my city. The airline changed my itinerary and offered me a food voucher, but I was stranded in Las Vegas overnight, and the majority of eatery places were closed for the evening.
My idea of flying did not include an overnight stay, stranded at an airport. I called my hotel that I checked out of earlier that morning, and rebooked a room for one night. At this point I had been at the airport almost ten hours, with two failed attempts to push out from the gate and take off into the skies. I was exhausted, cold and hungry. I knew what I needed to do next.
I went to the hotel to check in for the evening and then…. went to Firefly for dinner. Walking into the restaurant was like the comfort received upon walking into a friend’s kitchen and sitting down for a delicious meal. I saw the manager as soon as I walked in. He lamented to hear about my plight in trying to fly out, spending the entire day at the airport only to be stranded in Las Vegas for the evening. Food can be a panacea for the soul. My soul needed a panacea after a long day at the airport and I was in the right place. I didn’t even need to look at the menu!
Today was a new day. I flew home without any problems with a suitcase full of tea samples and a heart full of happy memories.
Still dreaming of all the wonderful food,
About the Author
Leslie Sundberg is a World Tea Academy Certified Tea Specialist, a World Tea Academy Apprentice Tea Sommelier, a Specialty Tea Institute Levl IV trained Tea Specialist, and a Tea and Business Etiquette Specialist. On any given day, Leslie can be found teaching, speaking or sharing in the joys of a cup of tea. No matter what Leslie is doing or where she is, one thing remains constant: 4:00 in the afternoon is tea time!