Australian Tea Masters Q&A with director Sharyn Johnston

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Australian Tea Masters Q&A with director Sharyn Johnston

Having a cup of tea means much more than just a means to rehydrate, for many it’s a way to relax, to reminisce on good times or to sip while catching up with good friends. Tea plays a huge role in our lives but when was the last time you gave it much thought? The Australian International Tea Expo is a chance to do just that through workshops, events and stalls. We caught up with Australian Tea Masters director Sharyn Johnston.
Hi Sharyn, thanks for taking the time to chat with Forte magazine, how are you and what are you up to at the moment? 
Hi, I’m great thank you! With only one month to go until the expo we are all working our hardest to get everything organised, so I’m doing a number of things right now. We are all very busy but very excited.
First things first, can you tell our readers a little bit about how the idea of the tea expo came to be?
We noticed that there wasn’t any national events in Australia that specifically focused on tea and we wanted to change that. Specialty tea is becoming more and more popular in Australia and we wanted to give people the chance to explore their love for tea.
How long did it take to then transfer that idea from just a thought to the reality of the event? 
Not as long as you might think! We had the event outline written up at the end of last year, and by the beginning of 2015 we had a venue set and a website built. Public interest and support really drove us to make this event a reality.
There isn’t a tea expo like this for Geelong at all, how important is it that locals embrace the idea? 
We would love to see as many locals come and enjoy this event. It’s an opportunity to attend a world class event right here. We have many activities that they would love – like the Kids Tea Party at the Carousel and the Black Tea Dinner.
And is it something that only tea professionals and enthusiasts can enjoy? 
Anyone who enjoys a nice cuppa or are looking to know something more about tea will enjoy this event, or at least some activities around the event. There is going to be some amazing entertainment including a sitar player, plum blossom dancing and amazing tea ceremonies that everyone would enjoy.
What are some of the highlights over the weekend? 
We kick off the event with an amazing Chinese Southern Lion Performance by the Bendigo Chinese Association out the front of The Pier at 10.00 on the Saturday. We have a gorgeous Black Tea Dinner planned for the Saturday night where we will announce the winners of the Golden Leaf Awards. For both the Saturday and the Sunday we are hosting delicious High Teas from 3pm until 4pm. On the Sunday from 3pm until 5pm we are hosting a Kid’s Tea Party at the Carousel where the Snow Sisters will visit and entertain.
There are a number of workshops and classes too, what can attendees learn from these events? 
We have 10 classes available for anyone to attend. They include; Oolong Sommelier, Green Teas of China, Hands-On Tea Blending, Starting A Tea Business, Aroma Training and Tea and Food pairing. There is so much they can learn! From making your own tea blend to mixing your own Chai. Each class offers a great experience to learn, and each class will be taught by a tea expert.
Given the event is about tea, are you a tea drinker, what’s your favourite blend? 
My favourite blend is Geelong Breakfast which is a blend of beautiful black teas from different countries around the world which will be launched at the event.
What are you hoping for audiences to take away from the event? 
The shock and surprise of how many different types of teas there are available and a better understanding of the diverse cultures involved in tea
Thanks again for taking the time to chat with us, is there anything else you’d like to add?
The first ever Australian International Tea Expo is going to be an exciting event which showcases tea, teaware, education, formality and yet the simplicity of enjoying an amazing cup of tea and will be awesome!
Visit for more information and tickets on the events.
When & Where: Australian International Tea Expo is on at The Pier, Geelong – October 17-18.