A Celebration of 10 Extraordinary Years


George Jage, Director of World Tea Media, and Kim Jage, Sales & Marketing Director, took the stage Saturday to recognize the many people who have made the conference possible over the past decade. They introduced the visionaries who first conceived of the idea, the past advisory board presidents, sponsors, and the rest of the World Tea Media team. It was a wonderful to see so many familiar faces. It was truly a who's who of the industry.

The highlight of the night, however, was when the tables were turned on the Jages. It was the community's moment to say thank you to them for all of their work. Faith Bailes talked of the early days of trying to convince people that a tea conference could work. Norwood Pratt recited a poem he had written in response to the occasion. Beth Johnston of Teas Etc. and Gail Gastelu publisher of The Tea House Times added their own special words of thanks.

Gastelu then unveiled a towering crystal trophy on behalf of World Tea Expo exhibitors and tea industry friends.

After the award and gift was presented to the Jages a grateful and emotional Kim Jage took the stage to say to the audience, "You deserve this award. You built this industry. I honor you."

"It was high time we came together to honor two wonderful people who we have all come to consider friends in the world tea community," said Gastelu. "We all wish to share our appreciation and extend our congratulations to George and Kim, through this very special honor --- the World Tea Award."

Gastelu, who worked with World Tea Expo exhibitors and key leaders to coordinate the award, added: "George and Kim work tirelessly to advance the world of tea. Their team direction, through World Tea Media, has brought numerous awards to deserving businesses through the tea championship, new product awards and much more. Their support of the industry, strong leadership, and passion does not go unnoticed by the tea community. This 10-year anniversary of World Tea Expo brought forth the ideal opportunity for the industry to thank the Jages, and to show appreciation on behalf of exhibitors and industry friends."

Poetry reading by James Norwood PrattThe 24-inch crystal globe statuette was presented in recognition of the success of World Tea Expo and the Jages' dedication to the tea industry. The award featured an etching of the World Tea Expo 10-year anniversary logo and an inscription: "Congratulations, Kim and George on this tremendous milestone and for all of your accomplishments in the tea industry."

Devan Shah, CEO of International Tea Importers Inc. and one of the first to exhibit said "World Tea Expo is the best thing that has happened to tea in the 21st century. It is a platform like none other in the world, where tea lovers, tea enthusiasts, tea merchants, growers and other tea related companies and organizations meet and learn about tea. It has also helped fuel the growth of the tea market worldwide."

Pearl Dexter, founding editor of Tea: A Magazine, said, "George and Kim have had their pulse on the specialty tea industry in the United States. for a decade. They have contributed to the growth of many companies and individuals who have followed their passion in tea and celebrated in their success."

Rona Tison, senior vice president of corporate relations for ITO EN (North America) INC., a subsidiary of ITO EN, LTD., said, "Congratulations George and Kim on the 10-year anniversary of World Tea Expo. We salute your dedication and commitment to creating a vibrant tea community through education and communication. Your tireless efforts, to expand the spirit of tea, are appreciated by all. We're looking forward to other great 10-years, from all of us at ITO EN."

Michael Harney, vice president of Harney & Sons, said, "My father and I will never forget when, over 10 years ago, two people came by our plant in New York. George and Faith wanted to do a tea convention. Since we had done something similar, we knew they were crazy. However they have persevered and prospered over the years. So we wish to congratulate George and Kim on their hard work and success."

Gastelu resolved, "The 10 year anniversary of World Tea Expo is a celebration of specialty tea and its growth over the past 10 years. The longevity of this tea-only trade show proves the success and profitability of specialty tea. Exhibitors, attendees, and show management together share a passion and vision that will surely bring continued growth long into the future. On this occasion, we collectively salute George and Kim for directing World Tea Expo and aiding in our success. We are all truly grateful."

all on stage
Beth Johnston, Faith Bailes, James Norwood Pratt, Kim and George Jage.

The ballroom was crowded with hundreds of attendees making the celebration festive after a long day on the show floor.

Jim Hoagland and Will Wertheim of Ito En Brooklyn talked, while Chris Ryan of Fresh Cup spent time catching up with Austin Hodge of Seven Cups. President of Tea Philosophy Verna Hamilton talked about courses she's taking and blogger Rachel K. Carter talked Pinterest with the World Tea News team. 

Reporter Katrina Avila Munichiello contributed to this report.