Last Chance To Experience Kevin Gascoyne’s Rare Teas Tasting

For the last few years, Camellia Sinensis Co-Owner Kevin Gascoyne’s Rare Teas session has been a highlight of the World Tea Expo. The evening session invites an intimate group of 40 participants to an immersive tea experience unlike any other that incorporates the five senses through music, lighting, and of course, taste.

Attendees have raved about the Rare Teas session, saying things like, "Tonight’s tasting event was truly the highlight of any Tea Expo I have attended. Maybe because it was a moment in time that I so desperately needed right now, but it taught me to really experience every sip of tea," and, "In my 23-year career, I can honestly say this was the best tasting experience I ever had! I never felt so connected to tea!"

This year’s session will be the 5th time Gascoyne has hosted it, but 2024 is the last year attendees will be able to experience it in its current iteration.

“It's an incredibly large amount of energy to put it together, it's quite theatrical,” says Gascoyne, who explains everything from the lighting to the sound system to the room itself has to be just right. “It's a very, very carefully curated evening where everybody is told what to do at every moment. And it means that we can bring them to this special place.”

To help him pull off the orchestrated event, he brings in a team of people, including his three business partners, who have been in the industry for 25 years. All 40 participants are welcomed at the same time into a darkened room lit by candles (no late comers are allowed in). Bags are put to the side, phones are not allowed, and there is no talking. “It’s a bit of magic in today's world, especially where it's kind of hard to turn off completely,” he says.

Gascoyne said one the night’s biggest difficulties is getting people to let go and give themselves over to the experience. This is why he hosts it at night and specifies people should eat before they come. He also uses psychological techniques he’s learned over the years to help put people at ease and focused only on the task of tasting. “The difficult part is getting people in the right mood, sat around the table quietly, sitting still and not waiting to go somewhere else, which is often the feeling at the conference,” he says.

Music also plays a big role in eliciting the right mood, and Gascoyne will be using a sound scape from his friend Canadian Composer Chris Olsen, who is also a big tea drinker. His electronic score lines up with the tasting and aims to match the essence of what guests are tasting at each moment of the session.

Participants are treated to a tasting of two timed infusions each of six rare teas. Because the aromatic chemistry of tea is released at different speeds and its many chemical elements all have a different reaction to water, the two infusions result in different flavors coming to the forefront. The first five teas are tasted in the dimly lit room. For the sixth tea, the lights come on, and the team brings the tea leaves to the table for attendees to examine.

Kevin Gascoyne rare teas tasting

What truly sets this experience apart, however, is that attendees receive no information about the six teas—not even what kind they are. Gascoyne does this purposely so that the flavor of the teas, which is really what makes the rare teas exceptional, are front and center. He wants his guests to experience all the flavor bursts and subtleties of the teas that are often missed when they are focused on the data and their own preconceived notions.

“We taste in wine glasses so that it takes people out of context,” says Gascoyne. “They don't know if they're drinking green tea, white tea, or black tea. At the end, when we finish the session, we send everybody information on all the teas right down to how they were made, who made them, where they're from, and so on. So they're not missing it. In the end, they get this exciting moment to just viscerally experience these teas without any of the white noise of intellectual thought.

“It's so thrilling getting them there, and it's a thrill for them to do it."

Gascoyne’s Rare Teas session will take place on Tuesday, March 19 from 7:00-8:30 pm in Room #S111/112 of the Las Vegas Convention Center. A $179 add-on ticket is required for the event, and those interested can register here. But hurry, spaces are filling up fast, and this event sells out every year!


Plan to Attend or Participate in World Tea Expo, March 18-20, 2024

To learn about other key developments, trends, issues, hot topics and products within the global tea community, plan to attend World Tea Expo, March 18-20, 2024 in Las Vegas, co-located with Bar & Restaurant Expo. Visit

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