World Tea Expo
Pre-Conference: June 11-14, 2018
Conference & Expo: June 12-14, 2018
Las Vegas Convention Center, South Hall

Advisory Council

John Chaffey

John came into the coffee and tea trade in 1985, mentored by Jim and Bill Scandrett at venerable trading firm Hayter and Scandrett. Since joining Metropolitan Tea Company in 1992, he has provided guidance to young entrepreneurs in growing their business. His background in working with origin producers and connecting with international buyers provides a broad market view, whether dealing with small retailers or multinationals. Currently operating in over 50 countries, John keeps busy looking to cultivate clients and educate them with fresh ideas and new tea items to support the expanding trade.

Metropolitan Tea Company was honored with the Toronto Board of Trade Sustainability Award, as a result of its efforts to become a carbon negative company. Also, they were most recently the recipient of the Gold Medal Environmental Sustainability Award for Best Environmental Initiative at the 2016 North American Tea Conference in Niagara Falls."

Mim Enck

My interest in the world of food and beverage began at an early age because my family was in the hospitality business and encouraged me to experiment in all phases of food and beverage.

Feeling frustrated with corporate life, I decided to jump in the car and travel throughout the United States. After traveling for 5 months in all regions of the US and Canada, I was enthralled with the tastes, sights and sounds encountered on this wonderful journey. Realizing there was life beyond the US, I traveled to Europe visiting coffeehouse and tea salons to better understand the culture of tea. This trip then lead to spending time with Julia Child and Simone Beck in southern France. Their influence imbued the love of food and preparing food with fresh ingredients and integrity. This journey also sparked ideas of using tea as an ingredient in cooking. After experimenting, tasting and developing recipes it continues to be a delightful experience.

Today, I am president of East Indies Coffee and Tea Company, specializing in the tea division of our company. Thanks to my husband’s belief that evolved women have a naturally developed palate, he has become the “wind beneath my wings”. Tea is a great connector to many peoples throughout the world. In today’s world, tea calm’s and lifts the spirit as well.

Manjiv Jayakumar

Manjiv Jayakumar is the President of QTrade Teas, where he oversees the company’s operations and strategic client relationships. Building upon QTrade’s pioneering role in the specialty and organic hot tea segments, Manjiv led the evolution of the company to become the leading provider of end-to-end solutions for the hot tea and fresh brewed iced tea industries in North America. QTrade Teas supports both the fastest growing specialty tea brands and retailors, and mainstream global tea brands, by providing product development and contract manufacturing services. Prior to joining the tea industry, Manjiv had varied early career in finance with Goldman Sachs, and in international development with the United Nations.  Manjiv is a graduate of Georgetown and Harvard universities and lives with his wife in Los Angeles. 

Brian Keating

Brian is the founder of the Sage Group®,a business publisher, think-tank and consultancy focused upon the specialty tea and natural products industries. Brian was the first tea blend master and tea buyer for Whole Foods Market, the world’s largest natural foods retailer and he has been a top-rated speaker at the annual World Tea Expo. He is widely quoted; his insights have been showcased in articles in both consumer and business publications, including Newsweek, The Economist, and Nutrition Business Journal. He also has unique hands-on experience at the retail level, having owned one of North America’s premier tea shops/cafés for many years, and has pioneered numerous retail and foodservice merchandising, marketing, and training methodologies. In addition to producing many specialty tea beverages, Brian was a recognized leader as the energy-tea category emerged during the 1980- 90’s, from the development of new flavor/active ingredient combinations to unique extensions of traditional marketing concepts.

Holger Lohs

Holger Lohs has a profound background in the international food industry, with the special expertise in tea products of all kinds. He joined Haelssen and Lyon GmbH in Germany in 1996 as a regional Sales Director for North America and the UK. In 2005, he founded the New York City-based subsidiary for one of the industry's leading tea companies, Haelssen and Lyon NA Corp., which he is managing as CEO and President. He has more than 20 years of extensive experience in the food industry and a strong managing ability to improve sales profitability and operational efficiencies. His profound knowledge about specialty tea and the tea industry is highly appreciated amongst the leading tea authorities in this country. He currently serves on the advisory board for the US Specialty Tea Institute (STI), as well as for the World Tea Expo.

Rob McCaleb

Rob McCaleb is the founder and president of the Herb Research Foundation, a researcher, writer and educator and a leading proponent of natural health care with botanical and nutritional products. He was Research Director at Celestial Seasonings for 13 years, building their analytical lab and quality programs, including the first ever professional flavor profiling and control program for herbal products. He helped develop many of their herbal tea products, built their botanical research library, and conducted global quality troubleshooting of the herbal supply chain. Currently, he works with companies to assist them in formulating, labeling and marketing natural and organic foods, especially tea products, dietary supplements, and functional foods.

Educated in Cellular Biology and Botany at the University of Texas and University of Colorado, he was a PhD candidate in Ethnobotany (ABD) at Union Institute. He is author of The Encyclopedia of Popular Herbs, Best Herbs for Healing and was cofounder and technical editor of HerbalGram. McCaleb headed the Technical Committee of the American Herbal Products Association and was one of only two botanical scientists on the presidentially-appointed Commission on Dietary Supplement Labels created under the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act (DSHEA), which studied global regulation of natural health products.

McCaleb has worked for over 30 years in sustainable herb growing and harvesting operations and marketing ventures throughout Africa, in Asia, Central and South America, Eastern Europe and Russia.

Silvia Rettore

Born in an Italian family in the idyllic countryside close to Venice, Silvia Rettore started very soon in her life to evolve a very fine palate and sensory ability. Her international experience in London, Montpellier, Hamburg and one decade enjoying a glamorous career in the world of the high fashion industry helped her to develop a critical eye in design and a profound knowledge in business. Inspired by her background, she decided to follow her instincts and passions and be part of the big D&B family. After 10 successful years as an Export Sales Manager at the German headquarters, established back in 1836, and numerous trips to fascinating tea plantations around the world, encountering the most amazing personalities, such as her own clients, she took the wonderful opportunity to touch base in the US and has started to lead a team of other tea aficionados at D&B Inc., Aurora, IL. .

Bhavin Shah

Bhavin Shah is Chief Operating Officer of International Tea Importers. He is responsible for leading the company's strategy, new business development and finance initiatives.

Thomas Shu

Thomas Shu is a third generation tea specialist, and has worked extensively in every aspect of the tea industry, handling the raw leaves starting from the plantation to the manufacturer, and then to the presentation to the end consumer. He is the founder of JT&Tea, and one of the founding members of American Premium Tea Institute (now STI, Special Tea Institute). Through his extensive broadcast of Taiwan tea processing, culture, and lore, Thomas has been honored as the Ambassador of Taiwan Tea, by the Taiwan Tea Manufacturer's Association. He has coined several terms in the tea industry, and has set the standards of quality on a global scale. He designed the "Tea-One Tasting" methodology to help consumers appreciate and love the etiquette, traditions, and the romance of tea. Mr. Shu is also the originator of the TOST program (Taiwan Oolong Study Tour), which he and Josephine Pan lead, and teach, groups of tea professionals on what has be touted as one of the most successful tea origins, and tea education training programs. In addition, Thomas has collaborated, with Dr. Jerry Liu and the Taiwan Tea Institute (TTI), to develop educational programs, which define theories and principles of tea practices and consumer experiences, to aid tea professionals in understanding different aspects of production and consumption of tea, which include standardized cupping practices, and grading system for the Oolong Sommelier.

Rona Tison

A tea industry connoisseur with a refined approach to the U.S. Japanese culture and innovative marketing, Rona Tison currently serves as the Senior Vice President of Corporate Relations at ITO EN(North America) INC., Japan’s #1 green tea brand and the world’s leading purveyor of award-winning, premium and sustainably-grown green tea. Tison is responsible for maintaining and developing the company’s corporate image through branding, public relations and promotional events.

In addition to her role at ITO EN, Tison serves on the Tea & Health Committee of the U.S. Tea Council, and is a member of the U.S. Tea Association, the Specialty Tea Institute, the US-Japan Council and Japan Society. Her tea industry prowess has led her to speak at the World Tea Expo, San Francisco, Los Angeles & Northwest Tea Festivals, Shizuoka World Tea Festival, James Beard House and Smithsonian Lecture Series.