On August 16th and the 17th, the Aiya team exhibited in our own backyard! No, not in our parking lot, but at the Los Angeles International Tea Festival! It was Aiya’s third year in a row exhibiting as a gold sponsor. It was held at its usual location, the Japanese American National Museum in the Little Tokyo area of Downtown LA. This year it was a little different in that it was held during Nisei Week, an annual festival that celebrates Japanese-American culture. Little Tokyo is probably the most crowded out of the whole year during this week. There were some other interesting events going on such as a ramen festival and a gyoza (dumpling) eating contest.
There was an estimated crowd of about 2,600 visitors over the two-day event, where vendors had booths in the main hall of the museum and in the pedestrian walkway outside the front door. We were indoors, as we have been in the past two years, luckily away from the scorching mid-summer heat. The great thing about this show is that it is open to the public with a small entrance fee. It is geared towards regular consumers and gives them a chance to try different types of teas. It also gives us a chance to interact with people from our own backyard, which we always enjoy.
The show has always been a busy one, but since it took place during Nisei Week, it was even more so than usual. We sampled our Matcha To Go, Ceremonial Matcha and iced Matcha green tea lattes using our Matcha Zen Café Blend. The samples were extremely popular and it was tough keeping up with demand, but we powered through it by drinking our Matcha; it provides a “calm alertness.”
There are also educational classes about tea that take place during show. Aiya’s very own Michael Kaneko led a presentation that focused on the basics of Matcha. He talked about what Matcha is and the key points that differentiate it from other green teas. Many of the class attendees had heard of Matcha, but didn’t really know what made it so special, so the class was very informative for them.
Although we say Matcha is on the rise in popularity, it was truly evident at the show. Many tea companies that previously did not have any association with Matcha, were showcasing products that included the tea and some were even selling the Matcha itself. It’s going to be interesting to see in a year’s time at this show, how many more companies will be incorporating Matcha in their lineup. We hope the local visitors we met had a great time and that we see them next year as well.