SofaSummit 2021

On May 21st, viewers around the world will tune in to 11 hours of talks with tea professionals from the tea lands. The free event, which will be streamed on YouTube, is the creation of Shabnam Weber, president of the Tea and Herbal Association of Canada. 

SofaSummit organizer Shabnam Weber

SofaSummit 2021

Virtual Tea Chat Unites Tea Commuity

Shabnam Weber, president of the Tea & Herbal Association of Canada is again hosting a SofaSummit to celebrate International Tea Day. The virtual event begins at 8 a.m. (EST) Friday, May 21.

Jessica Natale Woollard: You’ll be streaming for 11 hours straight. What can our listeners expect this year. 

Shabnam Weber: Well, we started the SofaSummit last year out of necessity because of Covid and the inability to do anything in person. But it was such a big success that I’ve decided to do it again. So we’ve got, I believe, 24 or 25 guests from around the world and we will be traveling through about 13 or 14 different time zones chatting with a variety of people representing all parts of the supply chain. 

Some are business owners, some are tea lovers and some are heads of companies. Some just have a deep passion for tea which is the tread that connects all of us. 

Jessica: It sounds amazing. That’s a lot of speakers and over 11 hours. 

Shabnam: It’s a long day and I can tell you from experience last year it is exhausting, but it’s worth every moment. 

Jessica: Who do you think would find value in watching these sessions? 

Shabnam: I think that because our guests represent such a wide range of the industry, I think everybody who has any interest in tea would be interested. 

Jessica: Do you have any advice for avoiding information overload for viewers that want to experience the full 11 hours. Any tips on how people can get the most out of these sessions?

Shabnam: I think the best way is what people did last year. They sort of tuned in and tuned out because we’re on YouTube Live all day long. You can come and go as you please, whatever your schedule allows. 

Another option is to tune into the topics or regions you find interesting. We’ll be posting the schedule in advance so you can pick and choose what you’re interested in initially. We record all 11 hours and segment it out so you can find the point on the video and fast-forward to catch whichever speaker. 

This lets you dissect it after the fact. It’s not listen now or it’s gone forever, you always have the chance to go back and pick up things you may not have heard at the time.

Jessica: Your second year sounds extremely well organized and I understand that people can even watch last year’s SofaSummit, correct? 

Shabnam: That’s right, if you go to our YouTube channel our our website you will find a link. Click on events to launch a microsite that we’ve created for International Tea Day. We will be sharing the link for the YouTube channel the week before the event and we’ll have that on our social media platforms as well. 

It was a big leap of faith last year and a big testament to the tea industry that on a Monday morning I decided to do this and by Tuesday afternoon, everybody I sent invites to had said yes, I’m on board, count me in. 

This year has been no different. Everybody wants to connect. We are part of this amazing industry we call tea. 

Jessica: That speaks volumes to the contacts that you’ve built around the world. Canada isn’t a country strongly associated with tea culture or industry although we have passionate, devoted tea drinkers and tea professionals, why did the tea and herbal Association of Canada decide to be the one to organize this celebration of International Tea Day? 

Shabnam: There are different events happening with different people in different parts of the world. There are many different associations doing different things. This just happened to be my brainchild and I just happened to be Canadian so that’s really what it boils down to.

Globally the celebration is a testament to tea. It’s ability to draw us all together is quite phenomenal. The people that you connect with are even more extraordinary. It is a business and they’re earning a livelihood but at the same time, there’s this deep deep love that connects everybody to tea. 

Learn more at SofaSummit.

UN Tea Forecast
Report of the FAO Intergovernmental Group on Tea | Current Market and Medium Term Outlook.

Tea and Sustainability

The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, adopted by all United Nations Member States in 2015, provides a shared blueprint for peace and prosperity for people and the planet, now and into the future. At its heart are the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which are an urgent call for action by all countries – developed and developing – in a global partnership. They recognize that ending poverty and other deprivations must go hand-in-hand with strategies that improve health and education, reduce inequality, and spur economic growth – all while tackling climate change and working to preserve our oceans and forests.

Learn more on the United Nation’s International Tea Day website.

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