The 3rd Annual San Francisco International Tea Festival is scheduled for Sunday, November 16 at 10 a.m. Held at the Ferry Building in San Francisco, the festival is a gathering of tea vendors other related business owners, along with tea scholars and tea drinkers from all over California. The festival website reads: “Discover teas straight from local and global producers, Free swag bag includes your very own teacup to savor tea market offerings, Taste hundreds of different types of tea, Connect with five of the biggest names in tea, Learn how each cup of tea can be a different experience, Enjoy a meal and shopping in the Historic Ferry Building Marketplace, Live music by local artists.”
The event features an exhibit hall where the industry participants offer free samples of some of their tea products, along with tea, tea books, and tea equipment for sale. There are formal tea tastings and educational lectures from tea experts like the Imperial Tea Court’s Roy Fong, and popular tea and food author and speaker James Norwood Pratt. Well-known local tea brands are represented among the vendors, including Harney & Sons, Ito En, and The Republic of Tea. The teas that are featured are high-quality, almost all loose-leaf, with a focus on unflavored teas, and tea as a beverage, rather than “Tea” as a social event.
The event will run from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on the 16th; admission is $25 per person, which gets you into the main exhibit hall, and perhaps into the lectures, although the formal tea tastings are first-come-first-served and cost $5 each. Tickets can be purchased from the festival website, and may also be available at the door on the day of the festival. Each attendee also receives a gift bag with more tea samples from the vendors, a special tea tasting cup to use at the festival, and contact information for all the vendors at the festival.
In past years, the South Bay Ladies’ Tea Guild has attended this festival and found it to be a fun and educational experience, although it seemed crowded. The first festival in 2012 surprised everyone with its popularity, and attendance grew in 2013. Who knows how many tea lovers will attend in 2014? The festival has a lot of growth potential, with only around 20 tea vendors represented, and less than 10 speakers for the lectures. You can see everything and taste all the samples in the main hall in less than 2 hours, if you don’t sign up for one of the formal tea tastings, which are conducted at set times. Since the festival is located above the Ferry Building Marketplace, however, attendees can leave (get a stamp on your hand if you want to come back before the festival ends) to browse the market stalls or even the farmer’s market outside the building, and find a tea house elsewhere in San Francisco. There are several tea shops in Chinatown, not very far away, which offer free tea tastings.
Getting to San Francisco by car can be tricky any day because of the traffic, although Sunday mornings aren’t usually too bad. Parking is difficult to find, and your best bet is to locate a parking garage nearby and walk the rest of the way. Public transportation can actually be more convenient in getting to the Ferry Building; BART has a station within a few blocks of the building. If the weather is good, visiting the San Francisco International Tea Festival will make for a great day out in The City!
Copyright 2014, Elizabeth Urbach.
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For more information:
“Tea-tasting San Jose area day trips: San Francisco’s Chinatown”
“Tea 101: what do we mean when we talk about tea?”
“The top 10 tea myths: don’t be fooled by any of them!”
“5 ways a tea-lover can be environmentally friendly”
“Tea 101: How to brew a pot of hot tea using loose tea”
“Bottled tea may contain fewer antioxidants than freshly brewed tea”
“What to do if it rains in San Jose on Halloween: have a tea party!”
“American Tea Mavericks interviewed in San Francisco”
“Review: Orange Blossom 100% White Tea from The Republic of Tea”
“5 books that should be on the tea-lover’s bookshelf”
“San Francisco International Tea Festival happens this Saturday!”
“San Francisco International Tea Festival – accessible to San Jose tea lovers”
“San Francisco International Tea Festival returns to the Bay Area”