Last week I attended the 4th annual Toronto Tea Festival. There were a lot of great vendors and tons of things I wanted to take home with me. I ended up buying way more than I should have, here are some of the things that caught my eye.
The Wall Tea Infuser, glass mug that allows you to see the beautiful infusion in your cup, and features a wall to keep the leaves out of your mouth.
(World Tea Podcast)
Fill out the charts and diagrams in the Tea Tasting Logbook to be able to tell what any given tea was like at a glance. I regretted not picking one of these up at the festival so much that I ended up ordering one a few days later.
(Wait Tea House)
Mini Pu Er Cakes that look like little wrapped candies
Tea Powders are great for baking with, or as addition to smoothies or lattes.
(Shu Craft Gallery)
Adorable panda gaiwan set and chopstick stand.
People have been drinking tea for thousands of years but the teapot was invented late in the game, in China during the Yuan Dynasty. It is now one of the most iconic symbols in the representation of tea. Available in almost any size and shape imaginable, teapots are beautiful sculptures as much as they are a functional vessel to prepare your favourite beverage.
I do not remember when my fascination with them began but my teapot collection has grown over the years to include sentimental pieces like my grandmother’s tea set, fun pieces like my gum ball set, and everything in between. I took some time, with the help of my cat Oliver, to photograph the pots in my growing collection.
For sentimental reasons this is my favourite tea set. This beautiful English style set belonged to my grandmother, and when I began to express an interest in tea she passed it on to me. Now it sits high up in my kitchen (where Oliver can’t get his paws on it) and I get to look at it every day. Any time I mention tea, she loves to tell me about how as a little girl growing up in Brooklyn her family was always drinking tea. It was a staple in their house just as it is in mine.
The style for preparing tea has changed many times over the course of its life. Throughout history, tea was often prepared as a fine powder that was added to hot water, or whisked into the water with a bamboo whisk, similar to the matcha we still consume. It wasn’t until the mid-13th century that the technology for drying tea eventually allowed for the leaf style that has now become the norm. With a new form for the leaves, new instruments were needed for steeping, and soon the teapot came to be.
Tea began to be transported from China to Europe in the 17th century. Porcelain teapots often painted in blue and white designs made this journey as well. The Hybrid tea pot (pictured above) from Italian company Seletti merges classic eastern and western design on one pot. This one pot encompasses the contrast and harmony in these two design senses in a wonderfully eclectic way.
There are a variety of vessels that can assist in the enhancement of flavor and aesthetic in the daily taking of tea. The teapot is my preferred method, Not only do I appreciate the beauty of these functional pieces of art, but also their ability to strengthen the meditative ritual that is the preparation and consumption of tea.
This past weekend I got the chance to attend the 4th annual Toronto Tea Festival. I spent the day surrounded by tea, tea wares and tea nerds and it was amazing. The festival is held each year at the Toronto Reference Library and this was my 3rd year in attendance. In addition to the many fantastic vendors selling everything from: tea, to pots and cups to steep your tea, to books on tea, to cookies to enjoy with your tea. There were beautiful tea ceremonies from different cultures, presentations on different aspects of tea and the tea industry, and even a tea tasting competition.
On Saturday I arrived at 10am; I had my ticket, my schedule, and a travel mug with my morning steep in hand. I first did a round getting a quick idea of what the vendors had to offer. Wanting to allow myself a chance to think about what I was going to purchase (instead of spending all my money at once), I headed over to see the Chinese tea ceremony.
Chinese, Japanese, and Korean tea ceremonies were performed multiple times throughout the day with a quick explanation of the tools involved and their purpose, and followed by a quick Q&A period. The ceremonies were beautifully done and a great peek into traditions from these cultures that most of us are not exposed to in our day to day lives.
A great addition to the schedule this year was the Tea tasting competition. The competition, accessible to people with any level of knowledge about tea, added a fun and interactive element to the festival. Contestants tasted different teas attempting to identify not only what kind of tea they were drinking but also the country of origin.
Later in the afternoon, after attending some presentations given by incredibly knowledgeable and interesting speakers, I headed back out to the vendors to do some shopping. There was so much tea to sniff and sample that I quickly got overwhelmed and was at risk of buying way too much. The venue had filled up with people and getting a good look at all the vendors was harder this time around. It was great to see the turnout and that so many people are interested in tea. The Reference Library is great venue, but I think that a bigger location is needed to give the attendees a little more room and ease while enjoying the festival. In the end I chose a collection of teas that I am very excited to try; stay tuned for reviews.
Whether you are already well versed in the world of tea, or new to it and hoping to learn more, a tea festival will give you the chance to further explore the world of tea surrounded by others just as passionate as yourself.
Hello my fellow Tea Nerds. I have never blogged before, and as I sit here sipping my tea and trying to figure how to introduce myself to the world, I feel like I am playing one of those awkward first day of school get to know you games. You know the ones that absolutely no one wanted to play, and no one listened to the people before them because they were too busy trying to think up something better to say than “I like stuff”- was that just me?
“Tell us your name and a fun fact about yourself!”
My name is Rachel, and I like stuff…
just kidding. My name is Rachel and I love tea.
I love tea because:
It energizes you. It calms you. It comforts you. It is healthy. It is subtle. It is complex. It is bitter. It is sweet. It is smokey. It is floral. It can be blended. It can be pure. It can be taken socially. It can be taken alone. It has a long history. It has beautiful ceremonies. It is a ritual. Every cup is different. It clears the mind. It is an important element in almost every culture. It evokes memories. There are endless varieties from a single plant. It is hot. It is cold. It is a liquid hug. It heals your body. It clears your mind. It revitalizes your soul. There is one for every mood.
In short, no matter what you are craving, no matter what you are feeling, no matter what you are doing- there’s a tea for that.
As if our first blog post was not exciting enough, we are teaming up with Make Believe Patisserie to bring you a giveaway! Make Believe Patisserie makes adorable clay creations of desserts and savouries. To enter just head over to my facebook page, like the post about this contest and leave a comment telling me what your favourite thing about tea is. Like our FB page and get an additional entry. On February 5th a winner will be chosen, so head over now to enter.