I, of course, enjoy any occasion where I get to talk tea, and last week I lead a tea blending workshop at Cambria’s Toronto gallery; I had an amazing time. I want to thank the wonderful people at Cambria who invited me and worked so hard to put the event together.
Cambria is a producer of natural quartz surfaces and their beautiful gallery was the ideal backdrop for an elegant evening of: eating scones and tea sandwiches, sipping tea sangria, and blending custom teas. Cambria often holds events in their gallery for those in the design community that work with them, and in honor of Mother’s day they asked each designer to invite a guest.
After I presented a short rundown of the different types of tea and what each brings to the table (or cup in this case) everyone had a chance to make a couple custom tea blends. Each guest got to pick between three choices for the base of their tea: green tea, black tea or rooibos. Then everyone got to add ingredients such as currents, ginger, cinnamon or lavender to create their perfect tea. It was so interesting and exciting to see what kinds of flavors were being blended and how much fun everyone was having. I had such a great time that I think I may have to start doing this type of thing on a regular basis.
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.