“The Toronto Tea Festival will enable you to discover the world of tea from the traditional to the trendy. You will be able to sample hundreds of teas and learn from experts in the industry at one of the complimentary presentations. Taste a variety of teas uniquely and exquisitely prepared by exhibitors; noting how the flavours may differ depending upon place of origin, processing techniques, and preparation styles. Experience the event to the fullest by engaging with the exhibitors and learning about all things tea.” (Source: Toronto Tea Festival Website)
Attending the Toronto Tea Festival for the first time this past weekend was a wonderful experience and exactly how I expected it to be. In addition to learning more about tea, meeting others in the industries and getting “tea drunk” off many samples, my appreciation for the beverage grew. When arriving, you are greeted with a tote bag to fill with your purchases and inside you are given a program schedule and a map of over 40 vendors. Another nice item in the generous tote bag was a tasting cup. I was surprised to find that the tasting cup was actually glass. It’s environmentally friendly and such a lovely keepsake afterwards!
With several presentations ranging from Tea 101 to Kombucha to Cooking with tea, there was something new to learn for everyone. The entire atmosphere was a great feeling. Who wouldn’t want to be in a room full of tea lovers? You know the tea festival committee did everything right when you don’t feel like leaving! Beautiful music accompanied you throughout the room from the Toronto Hanfu Society. Everywhere you turn there is another vendor kindly presenting you with one of their many teas to try. Once you pull out your tasting cup from your tea festival tote bag they begin to pour their tea for you to smell, sip, savour and enjoy.
The Toronto Tea Festival presented three different tea ceremonies – Chinese, Korean and Japanese. With a brief explanation of all the tea tools and items used, a ceremony begins and continues to have the attendees’ full attention for the half an hour. The one thing I love most about tea is getting to learn and experience how tea is enjoyed in different cultures. What tea is the most common to drink there? What details go into the preparation? Most importantly, seeing people indulge in their tea of choice is one that brings a closer connection. The Toronto Tea Festival did a great job bringing all of these key areas to their event during the tea ceremonies.
A few of my highlights:
– Attending the Wellness Teas Presentation by Shabnam Weber from The Tea Emporium (I’ll blog more about that another time!)
– Having an informative chat with Adi Baker from Tea Association Canada about their online tea program to become a Certified Tea Sommelier.
– Tasting and picking up some wildflower honey from Rosewood Estates Winery
– Watching The Tea Kings create fresh matcha with their stone grinder
– Enjoying matcha prepared by Austin Wong, currently the only person certified to teach Ueda Ryu style of Japanese tea ceremony in Canada.
– Falling in love with kombucha, specifically from Pekoe
– Bringing home my first ever tea pet. I was searching for one for a while and I fell in love with a “Meditating Buddha” from Zhen Tea (Don’t worry, this little guy will be shared on the blog some more soon…)
Whether you are new to the world of tea or an aficionado, the Toronto Tea Festival is an excellent place to be to grow in the industry, meet new people and learn about other tea companies. As a tea blogger, I deal with tea companies daily but I have noticed I have a larger network of U.S. companies than I do of Canada. I really liked that the festival gave me the opportunity to gain more insight from my country’s tea lovers as well.
I’m happy to say my first ever tea festival was a success and just makes me want more. Why can’t there be a tea festival every weekend? Next year I will plan to go all weekend–one day for presentations and the next day for visiting vendors and enjoying the tea ceremonies. It’s a tea filled weekend with lots of information that just can not be missed!