Perspective: World Tea Conference + Expo Shines a Global Light on Tea

When I was asked to be a part of a speaking team – along with my husband, Bryan Hackman of Cotee River Brewing Company – at the 2022 World Tea Conference + Expo, I was unsure what to expect with this year’s event.

The last time I had attended the World Tea Conference + Expo was in 2016, when things were much different and I was much different. I was just learning about tea and what it meant to be a part of such a great community of professionals. However, over the past six years, many things have changed for many of us – so why would the World Tea Conference + Expo be any different?

Change is difficult for all of us. It forces us to adjust our expectations (sometimes more than that) and it causes us to change direction. Looking at it from a different perspective, change is necessary for us to grow and evolve into the current times and trends. That being said, here are a few things that I found at the World Tea Conference + Expo that surprised me – in a great way!

1. The Opportunity for Collaborations and Joint Projects Across the Tea and Bar/Restaurant Spaces

I was very impressed at how the World Tea Conference + Expo and the Bar & Restaurant Expo meld so well together. Both industries have a real opportunity to learn from each other and utilize each other’s resources. Having the two together nearly guarantees that the two industries find similarities among each other.

For me personally, combining my husband’s brewery with tea from my tea business (you can read about our collaboration here at World Tea News) has provided us an opportunity to showcase how the two industries can work hand-in-hand to benefit both.

What I was even more encouraged by is how receptive individuals in the tea industry that attended our talk were to working with groups on the bar side. In fact, when I provided specific information and showed ways the bar and restaurant industry can benefit from tea partnerships, to increase their profits and their reach (think new customer base), the info and insights were very well received by tea professionals. Indeed, in order to continue to move the tea industry forward, these joint projects are vital – and this year’s World Tea Conference + Expo provided opportunities for the two industries to make much-needed new contacts to explore collaborations. 

2. Greater Visibility for Up-and-Coming Tea Companies, Products and Services

Joining the two industries on the expo floor provided an opportunity for young and new businesses to showcase themselves to a larger audience. I was very surprised at how many new products there were on the expo floor, specifically in the tea expo.

Hosting the expos together gives greater visibility to new and current products. I loved seeing tea professionals engaging with bar and restaurant individuals. Oftentimes, there seems to be a disconnect with how the two industries can work together. Yet, the expo gave both groups the opportunity to be on the same floor and to learn about each other.

Going further than that, the World Tea Conference + Expo provided even more exposure to newer businesses in the tea industry. A greater reach will help ensure their success, which is vital to the continued growth of the tea industry overall. (BTW, I loved when I was at one of the vendor booths and a gentleman attendee from the Bar & Restaurant Expo came by, told the vendor how much his wife loves tea, and then bought a tea pot from them to take home to her). Even if there isn’t a crossover opportunity with every connection, the people in the bar and restaurant industry either like tea themselves or know someone who does, so that helps increase exposure and trigger opportunities for both groups.

3. SO MANY New Attendees and Buyers

I appreciate seeing how the World Tea Conference + Expo continues to bring so many tea professionals together. Despite changes in the layout and being combined with the Bar & Restaurant Expo, the two did very well together. I loved seeing so many tea industry professionals enjoying the vast array of vendors on the expo floor. I also loved how the speakers at the World Tea Conference + Expo delivered wonderful, relevant educational sessions for attendees.

FaithAnn Bailes, the conference and content manager for the World Tea Conference + Expo, did an amazing job of bringing together new and seasoned tea professionals, offering an opportunity for anyone who attended to learn and expand their knowledge.

Having so many attendees from the tea industry not only shows how important the World Tea Conference + Expo is to the overall industry, but it also shows how tea professionals are embracing the current state of the industry and their enthusiasm for the continued growth in many areas, where tea can have a positive influence.

4. A Good Showing of International Companies and Attendees from Around the World

I wasn’t sure what to expect as far as international tea representation. Over the past two years, we have been dealing with lockdowns and cancelled travel, and I was not sure how that was going to play into the conference offerings and the expo vendors. I was very happy to see so many international travelers and countries represented. Despite any travel restrictions and temporary hesitation from some international business – due to pandemic-related issues – there were still a lot of vendors that traveled from around and outside of the United States to attend the event. That showed me that being at the World Tea Conference + Expo was important to them, and that being there has great benefit. I’m sure we’ll see even more international companies at next year’s event, as well as future iterations.

Finally, while being among the many tea attendees at the World Tea Conference + Expo, I realized that we still have a lot more work to do in the tea industry. We, as tea industry professionals and people on the front line between consumers and our consumable beverage, need to spread the good news about tea – whether that means spreading the word to the bar and restaurant community or to consumers in general.In the end, being among so many tea professionals helped me see, again, that we have amazing resources at our disposal, and we have some tremendous opportunities to continue to advance tea consumption and knowledge.

I look forward to seeing what the World Tea Conference + Expo offers next year, and you can rest assured that I will be there!

See you in 2023!

Recent World Tea Conference + Expo 2022 speaker Kelly Hackman, owner of The White Heron Tea & Gifts and Driftwood Tea Company in historic downtown New Port Richey, Fla., is a World Tea Academy Certified Tea Sommelier and Certified Tea Specialist, in addition to being an Etiquette Consultant. Hackman has created a unique tea escape at her tearoom, which has assisted in transforming her town’s historic landscape and assists in drawing guests to the area from throughout the Southeastern United States. Hackman presented “A Partnership of Tea and Beer” at the recent 2022 World Tea Conference + Expo. Visit and to learn more about her companies.

Plan to Attend or Participate in the
World Tea Conference + Expo, March 27-29, 2023

To learn about other key developments, trends, issues, hot topics and products within the global tea community, plan to attend the World Tea Conference + Expo, March 27-29, 2023 in Las Vegas, co-located with Bar & Restaurant Expo. Visit

To book your sponsorship or exhibit space at the World Tea Conference + Expo, contact:

Veronica Gonnello​
(for companies A to G)
​e: [email protected]
​p: 212-895-8244

​Tim Schultz
​(for companies H to Q)
​e: [email protected]
​p: (917) 258-8589

Fadi Alsayegh​
(for companies R to Z)
​e: [email protected]
p: 917-258-5174

​Also, be sure to stay connected with the World Tea Conference + Expo on social media for details and insights about the event. Follow us on TwitterFacebookInstagram and LinkedIn.