Monday, December 11, 2017

Victoria Tea Fest rises from the dead to bring tea to town

February 1, 2017 by Jayden Grieve, contributing writer

The Victoria Tea Festival ran for several successful years before it ended in 2013. But local tea lovers have cause to rejoice: The International Tea Appreciation Society has decided to put on the Victoria Tea Festival Revival to continue the legacy of the previous festival.

“This year we’re doing a tea market and symposium at Nootka Court,” says event co-organizer Ryan Moen. “We’ll be doing kind of an open-air market style, like you’d see at a farmer’s market, and we’re expecting about 10 to 15 different vendors.”

Moen and co-organizer and fellow tea enthusiast Jared Nyberg have decided to put the revival festival in a less formal light and really open it up for everyone to enjoy. Moen claims that tea is a fantastic way to bring people together.

“In general, nobody hates tea. People might not like tea, people might have different preferences, whether it’s mint or black or chai tea, but generally it’s an easy medium to bring a large group of people together to celebrate,” says Moen. “There is a lot of conversation around tea. It invokes so much personal notation. Some people only have tea by themselves; some people go through a whole ceremony, or think about their grandmother. Generally, it’s a pretty happy experience.”

If you like talking about tea, looking at tea, and drinking tea, you’ll be happy to hear the Victoria Tea Fest is back (photo provided).

The festival will have many local vendors, all of whom are passionate about their product. The organizers have been careful to keep the festival focused on the tea and ensure that only products that contribute positively to the culture will be featured.

“What we’ve stayed away from is inviting anybody with what we call ‘candy tea,’” says Moen, “where people start adding sugars, and sort of navigate away from the tea. If they start adding sweeteners specifically to change the taste, that’s where we draw the line.”

Historically, Moen claims, tea may have been a “two brand in the supermarket” product, but in recent years, especially locally, it has blossomed into a thriving industry, with many participants.

“In Victoria, the popularity of tea is definitely growing,” says Moen. “I think people on the west coast have a bit more of a connoisseur lifestyle. People want to know more, and with tea you can offer that. You can offer where it’s from, how it’s produced, and really delve into the different types of textures and notes that each cup can have.”

Along with the market, patrons will also get to attend the tea symposium, where they can learn all about their favourite beverage. Topics range from tea sourcing and grading to tea ceremonies.

“The main focus of the tea festival is the market to show what’s available, but the other half is that no matter how big or small the festival gets, we are always using education as our backbone,” says Moen. “A thing we encourage is for people to just come and ask all the vendors questions. We try to make sure that the people we invite have a lot to say, and almost all of them know their tea very specifically. It isn’t limited to the education experience in the symposium.”

Moen is very positive about the prospects of the upcoming festival, and he believes that it will be a success that could lead to many more in the future.

“The main reason it was created was for the people of Victoria,” he says. “My big hope is that they can pick it up and treat it the way they want to and not have to adhere to any specific medium that we offer, but just celebrate tea and take it and create their own festival.”

Victoria Tea Festival Revival
Saturday, February 4
$2 to $10 sliding scale
Nootka Court, 633 Courtney Street

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