The first annual San Francisco International Tea Festival last weekend was a success! All available tickets sold out ahead of time, and the upstairs hall and conference rooms at the Ferry Building were full of Bay Area tea-lovers attending the lectures, tea ceremonies, tea demonstrations and other activities. The guests were greeted at the door by the Festival staff, who collected the tickets and exchanged them for a gift bag containing a handful of tea samples, brochures from tea vendors, and an official tasting cup with the San Francisco International Tea Festival logo.
tea author and speaker, opened the festival with informative and humorous speeches. Young women from the Yunnan region of China appeared in traditional dress to hand out beaded pendant necklaces for good luck, and the vendors began their tea tastings. Attendees went from booth to booth viewing the tea and other products from around 15 tea companies, tasting the various teas and other foods, including tea-infused ginger ale and chocolates. Meanwhile, the various lectures and demonstrations began, including “The History of Tea in the United States” with Norwood Pratt, “The Great Teas of China” with Roy Fong, “The Healing Power of Green Tea” with author Ying Compestine, “Green Teas of Japan” with Rona Tison of ITO EN, “Great Teas of India” with Devan Shah of International Tea Importers, “Northern Japanese Tea Report” with Masahiro Takada from Kyoto, and “Rooibos, the Wonder Herb from South Africa” with Kristina Richens from The Republic of Tea.
As for demonstrations, many vendors offered samples and exhibitions of their products; Roy Fong led a Gongfu Tea Ceremony, and Masahiro Takada led two Chakabuki Japanese Tea Ceremonies. There was also a book signing with Babette Donaldson upstairs in the conference hall, and with Norwood Pratt, Scott Chamberlin Hoyt, and Phil Cousineau at Book Passage, a book store downstairs in the marketplace. A few cooking demonstrations, including “Cooking with Tea” with chef and author Robert Wemischner, were on the schedule, as was a screening of the documentary The Meaning of Tea.
Lectures and demonstrations were standing-room only, and there was even a bit of a snafu when a group of people entering the tea ceremony room were surprised to discover, despite the announcement at the opening of the festival and the notice in the program, that they had to sign up in advance for the tea ceremonies and couldn’t just go in early and sit down! However, there were plenty of things to do, with the festival happening on the same day as the farmer’s market with all the market vendors open as well. The space given to the tea festival was a little smaller than I had anticipated, but the organizers didn’t know what to expect from the first International Tea Festival in San Francisco, so next year’s festival will surely be bigger. The tea celebrities were very accessible, especially the authors signing their books, which made it easy to chat with them one-on-one. All the tickets sold out in advance, so that’s a good sign that there will be a second San Francisco International Tea Festival in 2013!
Copyright 2012, Elizabeth Urbach.
For more information:
San Francisco International Tea Festival website
“San Francisco International Tea Festival happens this Saturday!”
“San Francisco International Tea Festival: February 25, 2012”
“1st Annual San Francisco International Tea Festival” review from Tantalizing Tidbits blog
“Where to buy Chinese tea in the San Jose area”
“Tea-tasting San Jose area day trips: San Francisco’s Chinatown”
“Japanese tea from San Jose’s Japantown”
“How to prepare matcha tea”
“Review: Orange Blossom 100% White Tea from The Republic of Tea”
Imperial Tea Court
James Norwood Pratt, Tea Society
Ying Chang Compestine
International Tea Importers
The Republic of Tea
“Gongfu (Chinese) tea ceremony, 2011 World Tea Expo” video on Youtube
Scott Chamberlin Hoyt interview
The Meaning of Tea project website
Phil Cousineau website
Robert Wemischner Cooking with Tea book webpage
“Spring soba salad with matcha tea-marinated tofu” recipe from Chef Wemischner, presented at the tea festival