You can’t have a great festival without great vendors! There were so many things to mention in my Toronto Tea Festival recap this year that I couldn’t properly recognize some of the vendors in that one post. It was a long and snowy ride home after the festival so I had time to come up with the idea of doing my own 2018 Toronto Tea Festival Awards to make sure I highlight as many wonderful vendors as possible. Mind you, I definitely was not able to get to every single company at the festival, so this fun award style post will be focusing on the ones I did get to visit and left a lasting impression.
And the winners are…. *drum roll*
The Cup of Life’s 2018 Toronto Tea Festival Awards
*Don’t forget to check out my recap and thoughts of the 2018 Toronto Tea Festival. In that post, you’ll find the full list of vendors that I had an opportunity to check out.
Best Tea Display – ZhenTea
It was a couple years ago that ZhenTea basically had a river as part of their booth design to serve their tea (see here). I’m over-exaggerating but it was still incredible. Since then, I made a point to check out their spot for their gorgeous display, and of course their teas. This year, ZhenTea lined up rows of their tea collection in glass jars and served each attendee their tea-filled sample cup by placing it on one of their many beautiful ceramic tea coasters. It’s really all about the little details. Behind their booth they had a shelf that showcased some teaware like tasting cups, coasters, and yixing tea pots. They also had fresh flowers placed throughout their booth that really completed the welcoming space. ZhenTea perfectly displayed the beauty of tea!
Honourable Mention: Eyrie Co.
This company’s focus was on tisanes, but they also had necklaces, incense, clay mask and more. The rustic wood and other pieces of nature that they used to display some of their products caught my attention immediately.
Best Fresh Chai – Chai Wala
Chai Wala was back at their usual festival spot this year serving up some of their original chai blend steeped in coconut milk. It’s perfect that they’re booth is at the entrance because Eamon and Rebecca are so welcoming! There’s a reason their chai is one of my favourites to recommend. It’s a sticky chai as it is coated with honey which also helps preserve the fresh ginger that they use in their blend. Fresh ingredients in a chai blend makes a HUGE difference. They also have a rooibos chai blend, but I didn’t get a chance to try that one.
Most Innovative Product – Wize Monkey’s Coffee Leaf Tea
This company has definitely come a long way since they first introduced their Coffee Leaf Tea (technically a tisane) to me back in 2014. I was so excited when I saw they were coming to the Toronto Tea Festival, but, fortunately for them, they were one of the busiest booths there! Their original coffee leaf tea is still my first pick, but I had a chance to try their Ginger Lemon coffee leaf tea blend and it’s now a close second. However, it’s not just about the product itself and how their coffee leaf tea keeps getting better. It’s not even about the fact that their branding is so on point. It’s about the outstanding impact this company is making for coffee producing communities. The coffee bean is only harvested 3 months out of the year. Now, the leaf can be harvested the other 9 months of the year, creating more year round jobs in coffee farms.
Best Tea Treats – Momo Tea x Trois Petits Sucres
Momo Tea is a Japanese tea company that carries exceptional teas from gyokuro to matcha. One of my favourite teas that I tried the entire weekend was actually their Yuzu Sencha! Momo Tea joined forces this year with a Toronto based macaron company. Trois Petits Sucres created macarons infused with Momo Tea’s hojicha and matcha and they were delicious! I did love all of the other vendors that I sampled treats from, but this was one that I decided that I had to bring some home for future tea times. I definitely finished them all the next day, so that says a lot.
Best Herbal Tea (Tisane) – Lee’s Tea
I appreciate a great herbal tea every now and then. Lee’s Tea specializes in tulsi based blends. They currently offer four: Original, Mint Chill, Pink Chai and Gold Rush. My favourite one is their Pink Chai. It was pretty spicy and if you add milk to this herbal tea it’ll be a gorgeous pink colour that is hard not to love. This brand isn’t just a tea company. They also sell Lee’s Ghee and I noticed on their website that they sell the Ippodo Matcha brand here in Canada!
Best Tea Personality – T By Daniel
I tell basically everyone possible to follow Daniel on Instagram just for his hilarious stories. His funny personality is everything and represents his tea brand perfectly. Daniel, his wife and the T by Daniel team, brought such a strong energy to the Toronto Tea Festival. I stopped by there several times that weekend just because their energy kept pulling me in. Their fun named tea blends and delicious tea infused chocolate bars helped, too. They truly do a fabulous job at making tea fun for everyone. No one left that booth without a big smile on their face!
Best Teaware – Tearoma
Tearoma has some of most beautiful caddies for tea storage you will ever find! Also, if you’re like me and are a huge fan of glass teaware, then you would have fell in love with what they were offering at the Toronto Tea Festival. They had crystal glass gaiwans (which I now have and have not stopped using!), crystal glass teapots and matching cups. I can’t forget to mention how great their customer service is, too!
Best New Vendor – Tillerman Tea
There were quite a few new vendors this year! Admittedly, I couldn’t stay at the Tillerman Tea booth too long because when I noticed the owner, David, wasn’t there I realized it was time for his presentation! The short amount of time I was at their booth was enough for me to want more though. Prior to the festival weekend, I have enjoyed some of the Taiwanese oolongs this company carries so they were definitely on my radar when I noticed they were attending the Toronto Tea Festival this year. I hope to see them again next year! You can find notes from David’s presentation at the festival here, too.
The More Than Just Tea Award – The Art of Tea and Tasseomancy
There were some vendors at the tea festival that were about more than just selling tea. I wanted to highlight my favourite with this special award. It was such a surprise to see Amy and her little tea leaf reading museum set up at the Toronto Tea Festival on Sunday. I find the art of tea leaf reading to be quite interesting, so naturally, I was drawn to this booth. It was covered in a plethora of reading materials on the topic of tasseomancy, and she also showcased some of the fortune telling tea cups she has collected over the years. Amy was always ready to talk more in depth about her passion with attendees. Instead of receiving tea samples at this booth, you were greeted with a “fortune teller miracle fish” to take home. It would be really neat to see Amy come back with her museum next year and also do mini readings on site!
If you attended the 2018 Toronto Tea Festival, let me know about some of your favourite vendors in the comments below!