Leslie Zhang - Putting the "World" in World Tea Expo

Leslie ZhangPutting the "World" in World Tea Expo (WTE) is the job of international agents like Leslie Zhang, who quietly work behind the scenes to bring international exhibitors to the U.S. For seven years, he has been building network of Chinese tea businesses owners who want to meet Western retailers face-to-face at WTE. He helps secure visas, manage travel details and exhibition logistics. Zhang remains vigilant during Expo, walking the show floor to assist with the special needs of our Chinese guests and to gather his own research on the tea industry here. Of WTE he says, "I enjoy my work very much. World Tea Expo is the best platform for China companies to enter the American market, and it is also the best platform for the American market to understand Chinese tea." Because so few Western tea retailers are able to travel to China, this may be their only opportunity to speak directly with Chinese growers and exporters, as well as attend focused tastings and seminars like the World Origin Tasting Tour. "China is the birthplace of tea," says Zhan, "but Chinese tea businesses have just begun the contacting with international consumers. It's time to open the trade of gate for more of them to understand tea culture. We hope to expand China tea exports to the United States, but it is a long-term goal requiring concerted efforts of the both sides. China is the most diverse tea-growing base in the world. And America is one of largest tea markets and has advanced technology to reach out worldwide. We hope that more American tea business partners will be able to visit China to better understand the production process of tea. It will, of course, be a mutual education in the exchange." With more than thirty Chinese businesses exhibiting at this year's show, attendees will have abundant opportunities to interact in the exhibit hall as well as during educational programs and networking events. Zhan added, "Consumers also need more education about the real Chinese tea. Most Western consumers only know the Chinese restaurant tea but most of these are cheap teas. The majority of them are confused about the numerous Chinese tea varieties. It takes some time to learn to distinguish the differences." Then optimistically, he closed the interview with a prediction, "I think the next ten years will be an era of great growth in the tea industry. The true Chinese teas will be very attractive to people who have the understanding and this will help make it the preferred beverage everywhere."