Musings on Tea Tycoons 2023, Which Places New Tea Entrepreneurs, Brands in the Spotlight

During the COVID-19 lockdowns, I had no idea of how everything would change in the world of tea, once things reopened and everyone got back to “business as usual.” We saw new businesses popping up, new trends emerging, and we witnessed a lot of re-branding and re-focusing with companies. Indeed, the world as we knew it is gone, and innovation has been born out of necessity and survival for many.

Mike Rowe, the host of the Discovery Channel series Dirty Jobs, says that for every five tradesmen that retire only two will take their place. Yes, it’s difficult to drive through any town right now and not see signs that say, “We’re Hiring.’” And I just watched a video of a Starbucks’ employee crying because he was working too hard – perhaps feeling the burden of less team members in the workplace. All of this means that things will continue to change, like it did after the pandemic, because we as humans tend to want to "fix things." In fact, I have already seen projections that artificial intelligence (robots) will be taking over a lot of the workforce someday – and why not? Robots don’t cry. This leaves the question: What will the human population do?

Right now, many are inspired by the “entrepreneurial spirit” and are looking to start their own business, as a way to navigate all the change. Of course, at the World Tea Conference + Expo, we see many attendees who are inspired (or impacted) by the many changes, trends and developments we see in the world today. They want to start a tea business and travel the world, looking for those special teas, and I wish them all well and hope that their dreams come to fruition. It’s certainly an exciting time for tea and tea entrepreneurs, and many are making the leap right now and finding success.

All of these thoughts about change and the developments during the COVID-19 pandemic is what led me to create the Tea Tycoons awards program and competition at the World Tea Conference + Expo. The main thrust behind Tea Tycoons is to support the up-and-coming tea businesses that have launched their brands amidst a world of fast-paced change.

With Tea Tycoons, I want the industry to get inspired by all the amazing tea entrepreneurs and their wonderful, innovative and sometimes out-of-the-box ideas... and give them a moment to shine! We want to help them succeed.

While we started Tea Tycoons during the pandemic as a digital event, 2022 was the first year where the competition was held live at the World Tea Conference + Expo. The contestants battled it out on stage, right in front of judges and a large crowd that hung onto every word these tea entrepreneurs said.

Frankly, I wanted every competitor of Tea Tycoons 2022 to win! They all put so much passion and hard work into their ideas. And they all contribute to the exciting “tea renaissance” that we’re seeing in the United States, where new trends and innovation continue to develop.

Just one of the recent trends that I find interesting and inspiring is non-alcoholic beverages or mocktails. I didn’t see that coming but everyone else did. A “light bulb” went off and many realized that you don’t have to destroy your liver to have fun, but instead you can tease your taste buds. Could this be the opportunity that tea has been waiting for, to finally emerge as the star that it was born to be, with tea mocktails (or even tea cocktails)? What else will the tea industry be inspired by, and how will that lead to new tea businesses?

I know that many are drawn to herbs and keep throwing tea and herbals into the same category. This is the reason we elected to change a category in Tea Tycoons for 2023, specifically to Camellia sinensis based. Please don’t call me a tea snob, but instead understand that I want people to know that there is a difference between tea and tisanes – just like there’s a difference between high tea and afternoon tea.

All of these musings aside, let’s take a closer look at this year’s sensational Tea Tycoons program, which I encourage tea entrepreneurs to pursue and submit their application by the deadline of Jan. 29, 2023.

A Look at Tea Tycoons 2023

Tea Tycoons gives tea entrepreneurs and their businesses a chance to be seen, whether they’re the grand winners or not. Here's what the finalists and winners will receive.

PRE-SHOW – Nine Finalists Will Receive

  • Press release/announcement in World Tea News (750,000+ page views per year)
  • Announcement in the World Tea News e-Newsletter (13,000+ subscribers)
  • Recognition in email promotions to the World Tea global subscriber list (200,000+ contacts)
  • Social media coverage on Facebook & Twitter

When the participants of Tea Tycoons present on stage at the World Tea Conference + Expo, it gives them the opportunity to pitch their company/brand and products in front of judges and an audience.  This gives them instant feedback and practice to learn and improve upon their branding and sales pitch. It also gives them so excellent exposure from retailers and wholesale buyers.The three winners in each category then go on to win even more exposure. They’ll receive a trophy and...

ON-SITE – Three Winners Will Receive

  • Inclusion in a press release/announcement that highlights the winners, published in World Tea News (750,000+ page views per year)
  • Three passes to World Tea Conference + Expo 2024, to share with customers or VIPs
  • International Tea Importers (ITI) will open a wholesale account for each winner, in which they will receive a $1,000 credit and the catalog
  • TeaTime Magazine, a consumer-focused tea publication, will print a story on each winner
  • Tea industry leader Kevin Christiansen, of Café Barnabas, will give each of the winners a special consulting session to cover their top three questions, including two emails and a one-hour phone call.

Each year, we will add to and change the prizes, but the bottom line is it offers contestants a great start to the public getting to know them and hopefully they will stay with the World Tea Conference + Expo and let the show help them grow and prosper.

The first step is to apply at Go to “Awards” and click on the dropdown menu, then click “Tea Tycoons” and follow the instructions and submit.

You have until Jan. 29, 2023, but don’t wait until the deadline – apply before all the holidays hit!

Then, if you make it to the next stage of up to 27 preliminary contenders, you’ll be notified by Jan. 31, 2023, to make a two-minute video. This video is important because it will show just how clever you can be, and it’ll give you an opportunity to share the most important reason why you fit into one of the three categories:

  • Camellia sinensis Focused Company: A product which celebrates tea with a focus on the unique characteristics of Camellia sinensis because of its origin/terroir
  • Sustainability: Focuses on meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their needs
  • Innovation: Dynamic new idea, method or device that demonstrates clear value for the tea industry

On Feb. 15, 2023, Tea Tycoons will close video submissions and announce the nine finalists on Feb. 27, 2023, all of whom will pitch the judges on the Nxt Stage at the World Tea Conference + Expo on Tuesday, March 28, 2023, from 4 to 5 p.m.

Important Dates:

  • Now to Jan, 29, 2023 – Apply!
  • Jan. 31 to Feb. 15 – Create Your Video, if Selected for This Preliminary Stage
  • Feb. 27 – The Nine Finalists Are Announced!

Please encourage any new tea entrepreneurs and businesses to apply to enter the 2023 Tea Tycoons competition at the World Tea Conference + Expo, March 27-29, 2023. We can’t wait to see everyone there! Good luck and see you in March!

FaithAnn Bailes is the conference and content manager for the World Tea Conference + Expo. She can be reached at [email protected].

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

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