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    World Tea Expo Steeps for May

    Tea sales in the United States are hot and expected to get hotter-that's why it pays to check out the product trends and other information brewing at this trade event.

    With U.S. tea sales in the United States poised to surpass $10 billion in 2010 for both beverage and nonbeverage categories, the ancient beverage is hotter than ever-even in its iced version. As a result, World Tea Expo, which is slated for May 30 to June 1 at the Mandalay Bay Convention Center in Las Vegas, has created an Executive & Technical Series (ETS) to help participants leverage the demand by keeping abreast of changing consumer tastes and industry trends.

    The program, which debuts May 30 to May 31, will provide key information and statistics to top executives, research and development scientists, product formulators, and ingredient managers who use tea in both beverage and nonbeverage applications.

    The series will kick off with a Super Data Session featuring presentations from leading data and consumer trend specialists Mintel, International Tea Committee, SPINS, and Canadean. The session will give participants insight into new applications and emerging trends, including food and nonfood product applications and functional benefits, tea and RTD tea growth, consumer buying trends, consumption in the context of other beverages, and world production statistics.

    Following the data session will be a series of technical sessions addressing such topics as the analytical truth behind advertised polyphenol counts, regulatory issues, flavoring trends, and product formulation.

    "The need for high-level content on how to create, launch, label, protect, and market new beverage and nonbeverage tea products has never existed until recently," says World Tea Expo founder and president George Jage.

    Additionally, hot and iced teas from around the world will be judged and rated by professional tea tasters at the inaugural World Tea Championship, a new feature of the show.

    All teas submitted for the championship will receive a World Tea Rating, providing the tea industry with a rating system similar to that used by the wine industry. Similar to wine, weather, soil conditions, manufacturing processes, craftsmanship, and the skill of masters and blenders affect tea characteristics.

    List the ratings of all entries of the championship, separated into iced and hot tea classes, The World Tea Buyers Guide will be distributed at the expo to all attendees.

    In the Hot Tea Class, 24 categories will be judged, along with three Super Categories, reflecting the best-known and most popular tea types, blends, and herbals, among them Jasmine Green Tea, Earl Grey, Silver Needle White Tea, and Rooibos. The 24 hot tea categories must fall within a set manufacturers' suggested retail price, and will be commercially available at the World Tea Expo. The Super Categories comprise just three types of tea (black, oolong, and green), have no pricing restriction, and must be of a single origin.

    Hot Tea Class entries will be prequalified and prejudged blind before the opening of World Tea Expo, by professional tea tasters. Through the prejudging process, all entries will receive a World Tea Rating. The five highest-rated teas will be further evaluated during the show to determine the best teas of 2008 in each category.

    The Iced Tea Class is organized by market applications and sales channels. The three categories are ready-to-drink, foodservice, and freestyle, focused on the grocer, restaurant, and independent tea shop, respectively.

    The World Tea Expo is the first and fastest-growing North American trade show dedicated solely to the tea industry, and attracts over 4,500 leading tea professionals, merchandisers, R&D executives, scientists, and entrepreneurs annually. Las Vegas-based SFG Group, LLC produces the show.

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