LONG BEACH, Calif. and LAS VEGAS, Nev. (June 6, 2014) — Thousands of professionals celebrated tea and its evolution in the North American marketplace during the 12th annual World Tea Expo (#WorldTeaExpo and #WTE14), which took place May 29 – 31 in Long Beach, Calif. at the Long Beach Convention & Entertainment Center. The event was combined with Healthy Beverage Expo (#HealthyBevExpo or #HBE14), and the co-located business-to-business trade shows attracted more than 4,600 attendees and exhibitors from more than 50 countries. "The 2014 edition of the World Tea Expo turned out to be a mature affair, culminating from the energy of the organizers, the F+W Media team,” said John Chaffey, director of sales for Metropolitan Tea Company, an exhibitor with offices in New York, Canada and the United Kingdom. “We were pleased to experience the quality of the attendees, the informed nature of their questions, and the confidence in the market. When we ran the prospect and other show markers, the numbers pointed to one of the better World Tea Expos in the past seven years.” World Tea Expo featured a bustling exposition floor with more than 200 exhibitors, highlighting the latest innovations, best new products and “what’s next” in tea. Delegates tasted new and award-winning teas and participated in three-days of in-depth educational sessions and workshops, covering every aspect of the leaf as well as business development and retail. Attendee Mary Alice Higbie, founder and owner of The St. James Tea Room in Albuquerque, N.M., said, “It was a beautiful event, beautifully done.” Caroline Kim, associate manager, trade and brand marketing, for Takeya USA Corporation in Huntington Beach, Calif., shared, “Thank you for letting us be a part of such a great expo.” Gail Gastelu, publisher of The Tea House Times, Sparta, N.J., said, "Long Beach proved to be a great location; if you missed it, you missed out." Beth M Johnston, founder and CEO, Teas, Etc, West Palm Beach, Fla., said, “World Tea Expo delivers once again! The Long Beach show was a success in bringing Teas Etc a new audience of customers large and small. The location of hotels in relationship to the main convention center venue and events was a great value added.” At the Healthy Beverage Expo side of the event, forward-thinking beverage companies and professionals met face-to-face with key buyers, to create opportunities in the segment. Euromonitor International said health and wellness beverages – whether categorized as naturally healthy, fortified/functional, better for you or organic – continue to reach new heights in the U.S. market, eclipsing the U.S. $64 billion mark in 2013. World Tea Awards In addition to its new location, World Tea Expo launched the World Tea Awards (#TeaAwards), a dinner and ceremony held on the historic Queen Mary ship. The inaugural awards program recognized some of the best in the global tea industry, in a number of community-voted award categories, on May 30. Winners include: Best Tea Spirit: James Norwood Pratt, tea author and expert, San Francisco, Calif. Best Tea Educator: Jane Pettigrew, tea author and consultant – United Kingdom Best Tea Book: Tea History, Terroirs, Varieties (Second Edition) by the Tasters of Camellia Sinensis Best Tea Publication: TeaTime Magazine, Birmingham, Ala. Best Social Media Reach: Elyse Petersen, founder and CEO of Tealet, Honolulu, Hawaii Best Tea Room Website: The St. James Tearoom, Albuquerque, N.M. Best Tea Room Menu: Samovar, San Francisco, Calif. Best Tea Retail Website: Adagio, Clifton, N.J. Best Tea Blog: World of Tea, Chicago, Ill. Best Tea Short / Commercial: The Tea Song by Yorkshire Tea, United Kingdom “It is humbling to be applauded by so many dear friends and colleagues in the tea community,” said industry expert and author James Norwood Pratt, who received the World Tea Award for Tea Spirit. “The spirit all of us share is a love of tea, and our tea industry exists to share that love widely. It’s plain and simple: Tea wants to be loved. We know that.” Author and tea expert Jane Pettigrew, who won the World Tea Award for Tea Education, explained, “Education and awareness-raising is fundamental to growing the tea market. Tea is a complicated and complex subject, and many people are very confused about what is tea, what are the different categories of tea, and why they are all so different. What we aim to do in training is to help tea lovers understand the basics so that they can then head off on their own tea journey without making mistakes and without all the misunderstandings that can cloud our appreciation of tea.” The Cha Jing Lifetime Achievement Award Devan Shah, the creator and owner of International Tea Importers (ITI) and Chado Tea Rooms, was presented the Cha Jing Lifetime Achievement Award (#ChaJingAward) during the World Tea Awards, for his significant contributions to the tea industry. The Cha Jing Lifetime Achievement Award recognizes and celebrates individuals who have made considerable contributions to the growth, innovation and education of the specialty tea industry throughout their lifetime. “Tea, the most romantic of all beverages, has certainly come a long way in the United States,” said Shah. “It has seen steady growth year-over-year for the last 15 years, and I am proud to be a part of that growth, and I am very grateful for this honor.” International Tea Importers is one of America’s leading importers and distributors of specialty teas from around the world. Since its humble beginning in 1990, ITI has become a major importer of organic and fair trade teas as well as conventional teas from every producing country. Chado Tea Room – which Shah acquired in 1994 as a single operation – now ranks among the country’s foremost tea shops. And with three choice locations in greater Los Angeles, Calif., Chado attracts legions of tea lovers and even celebrities. The Chado brand also includes two Chado Tea kiosk businesses in India. Best New Product Awards World Tea Expo also reviewed and selected the very best new tea and tea-related products from among its many exhibitors, for its 2014 Best New Product Awards. Winners include: “Best New Product – Tea as an Ingredient” Winner: Lumbini Ladalu Chakra, Lumbini Tea Factory, Sri Lanka – A hand-made tea with a light and sweet taste, Lumbini Ladalu Chakra is part of the exclusive collection of Lumbini Tea Factory. “Best New Product – Innovation” Winner: Biotre, Pacific Bag, Inc. – Pacific Bag spent two years developing Biotre film, a biodegradable barrier material for packaging, which protects products and is ideal for the tea industry. “Best New Product – Tea Ware” Winner: Deluxe Iced Tea Beverage System, Takeya USA – Create and enjoy hand-crafted beverages in three simple steps with Takeya’s patented Flash Chill Iced Tea System. “Best New Product – Open Class” Finalists: Tea Pee – Prostate Support Tea, Nuwati Herbals – The herbs in Tea Pee have been traditionally used to assist with discomfort and frequent urination, and to support healthy bladders. Watch WorldTeaExpo.com and HealthyBeverageExpo.com for upcoming details on the 2015 Expos.