MY EXPO WEST EXPERIENCE
My 2014 Expo West experience was an over-the-top, amazing, magical, and exhausting experience – just like it was last year. However, this year, I adjusted my game plan and started taking interviews and planning a month in advance of the Expo in order to get the skinny on all the newest products before the event and schedule my time with my most-valued gluten-free partners. I was literally running at times between booths to get to the over 2,500 exhibitors (around 2,600 exhibitors with 67K attendees) and I still missed too many to name. There were so many new product launches that will blow the socks off of my gluten-free friends that it was a difficult to choose top products in each category.
To see a list of all the exhibitors visit this site http://www.expowest.com/ew14/public/exhibitors.aspx?ID=1050233
TOP PICKS IN GLUTEN-FREE BEVERAGES
EXPO WEST IS BEAU-TEA-FUL
Tea is so hot right now…often literally. I never set out to go buckwild over teas this year at Expo West, but I do love tea and I was presented with some pretty radical new tea concepts, packaging, and flavors. Here are some of my favorite picks from Expo West in the BEAU-TEA-FUL wrap-up:
THE REPUBLIC OF TEA: GET CLEAN DETOX TEA SET
The Republic of Tea had a bazillion new tea product launches. Most of their teas are actually certified gluten-free – although I think it’s hilarious that the one product I first picked up on the show floor actually had barley in it (just my luck, right?). However, always check the label on everything you eat and drink – especially tea. But luckily I’m here to talk about the safe tea that I loved from TRoT. These adorable detox tea sets are so cute and so helpful to contain the tea that you take during the morning, afternoon, and night! I think they’re sending me a kit of this – can’t wait to try! And you know what? It doesn’t taste that bad for a detox tea, like something I would actually drink!
THE REPUBLIC OF TEA: MATCHIA
This is certainly their weirdo of the bunch – it combines high-quality matcha tea powder and chia seeds. It tastes exactly how you think it would – like a hot Mamma Chia with the strong powerful taste of Matcha green tea. It was certainly interesting, and a good way for tea drinkers to incorporate chia in a unique way. I’ll probably just stick to chia pudding or Mamma Chia, but this has potential for a break-out product.
THE REPUBLIC OF TEA: DOWNTON ABBEY TEA
Do I even need to give you an explanation? I don’t even care what flavor of tea this is. I want it. These are already for sale on their website.
THE REPUBLIC OF TEA: HI CAF TEAS
Because I need more caffeine than what’s in a cup of coffee, don’t you? I really dig the taste of this coconut black tea – perfect combo of the flavors without it seeming too fake or overpowering. These are also for sale and in a variety of flavors.
OWL’S BREW TEA MIXERS
Because who doesn’t love alcohol paired with tea…wait, what? Yeah, that was my thought too. However, Owl’s Brew (also my pick for BEST EXPO WEST BRANDING – along with EPIC BAR and BEARDED BROTHERS) crafted a high-end tea-based mixer that pairs well with liquor like whiskey. They’re priced pretty affordably and will definitely make your cocktails more unique than the last party you went to.
Their website says that it’s available at Whole Foods and BevMo – so I’m excited to grab some bottles when I see them!
ROOIBEE RED TEA
When Rooibee’s PR team reached out to me, I thought – eh, another tea. Although I love tea, how many times can it be done? Rooibee focuses on Rooibus tea and offers some pretty great flavors – including their infamous Watermelon Mint. It’s damn good, and it comes in a bottle (meaning I can pick it up without brewing it myself). It’s naturally caffeine free, but does have quite the sugar content on the flavored versions (that’s why it tastes so good!) so watch out for that.
They just launched a kids line, and even though I’m not a kid, this fruit-flavored tea is pretty dang good. These come in a smaller plastic bottle that are easy for kids (and clumsy adults).
NUMI ORGANIC TEA
Numi Organic Tea has come up with a winner new line of teas – Indulgent Tea featuring chocolate. Yeah, you heard me right – chocolate and tea. This was one of my “most excited about” products before the expo and it didn’t let me down. I could have spent the whole day at their booth doing “tastings.” Their Savory Tea launch last year at Expo West was a little funky – but that’s kind of what Numi is all about in my mind. Their flavors are always super out there, and drinking tomato or broccoli tea was a little weird for me. However, others raved about sippin’ cilantro. This launch is more my style – because I love rooibos tea (only some are caffeine-free), spicy tea, and earl grey. While the Chocolate Mint is not my favorite, the other three in the line really make up for it. I can’t wait for these to launch so I can get my hands on them.
REAL JUICE – NO CRAP
CHERIBUNDI CHERRY JUICE
There’s just cherries in here (cut with apple juice). Each 8 oz. contains the juice of 50 cherries. This was not what I expected at all from a cherry juice. It tastes just like you’re eating cherries – not like some weird Juicy Juice faux cherry imitation. Also, they recited the benefits of drinking about 8oz. a day – including reducing inflammation. If it works, I’m so game for regularly drinking this stuff. I also really like the taste of it with some carbonated water. It has a ton of sugar, but it’s the sugar from the cherries, so it doesn’t give me a crazy headache like soda usually gives me. I went to Sprouts and bought a giant bottle of this stuff. We’ll see if I can type easier in a week…
REAL SODA – NO CRAP
DRY SODA CO.
Dry Soda should really be called “no crappy stuff” soda because it’s just carbonated water, cane sugar, and some fruit/flower/herb flavorings. It’s certified gluten-free and certified awesome. I’ve now had a chance to sample all of their products, including their newer can flavors like blood orange and ginger. However, I left with my Dry Soda coupon in hand and immediately went to get a 4-pack of Lavender soda bottles. I’m sold on this company. Also, I love that they have mixology ideas for each of their sodas for the best liquor pairing. Dry Soda, I like your style.
CHIA SEEDS ARE STILL SO HOT
Chia was in no short supply at Expo West – from beverages to desserts. However, the one brand that really made me understand chia seeds had a much larger presence at this year’s expo – Mamma Chia.
MAMMA CHIA NEW FLAVOR POUCHES
Mamma Chia launched two new flavor squeeze pouches at Expo West – the Mango Coconut and Wild Raspberry. While these two new pouches aren’t my favorite of the packs (who can beat Blackberry Bliss?), I love that they’re expanding the product line into new flavors and now offering them in a new variety pack of 8 instead of buying in bulk. They’re also now selling organic white and black chia seeds online, as well as introducing CEO Janie Hoffman’s new book Chia Vitality. She’s quite amazing and from one autoimmune sufferer to another, I’d love to support her!
IS COFFEE STILL POPULAR?
I sure hope so. While tea definitely had its day in the sun at Expo West, I think coffee still has a fighting chance for my love and affection. I really liked the new Chameleon Cold Brew Mocha Coffee. It’s just their ready-to-drink Cold Brew with sweetened mocha – and only 20 calories!
ENTER TO WIN A GLUTEN-FREE EXPO WEST SWAG BAG PRIZE:
Enter to win 1 (one) of the EXPO WEST SWAG BAG PACKAGES – US RESIDENTS ONLY.
WINNERS WILL BE PICKED RANDOMLY:
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HOW IT WORKS:
Each person can be entered into this contest 6 TIMES via Rafflecopter.