As much as I miss living in Canada, living in the Los Angeles area has its perks with lots of festivals in town. I was stocked to go to this years Los Angeles International Tea Festival to say hi to fellow tea lovers I met last year and the World Tea Expo, attend the tea workshops and most importantly – drink all the samples!
As with last year’s Los Angeles International Tea Festival, the festival was held at the Japanese American National Museum, August 16th and 17th.
The location seemed tighter this year as there were a few more vendors this year, way more people (I’d say 50% more, but I don’t know the actual number). It was hard for me to get photos of everything as the people were clustered in tight, buying and sampling teas. The lighting was on the dark side too. Here is a photo inside facing two directions.
I arrived just as the festival started and I attended about 2 hours worth of tea classes and spent 2 hours of touring all the booths. The Los Angeles International Tea Festival is still quite small, you had enough space to squeeze into a booth, get a pour of tea and step back to let others through. The weather was hot, a sweaty 30c/86F, so 60 to 70% of all the tasting samples were iced. Last year there wasn’t as much iced teas, but last year the festival was held at the end of September.
Trends this year – lots of Matcha! There was 5 booths that sold only or at least half their booth was dedicated to matcha (out of the 17 tea selling booths) AOI Tea company, Aiya, Sencha Naturals, Ito En, and Midori Matcha Company and they were all pretty popular. I drank all the matcha samples, so I got pretty wired fast!
Tea blends were also very popular again and the most common tea find at the Los Angeles Tea Festival. Harney & Sons, American Tea Room, and Art of Tea had big spreads (and hard to photo with the crowd)
American Tea room has some cute kitty teaware!
Chado Tea Room had a huge outside tent, complete with a wall of tea and outdoor seating.
Zenzeu had a really nice Acai Berry white blend. This tea was iced and really hit the spot for this hot day!
Another blends tea vendor I liked was Tea Gallerie, based in San Diego. They had a pretty big tea selection with plenty of unique blends and fun fruity herbal teas. I had some lovely French Lavender Pu’er that was very smooth!
There were a couple straight tea vendors, with JT & Tea having some nice and tiny yixing pots!
For scale (lid was broken)
My favorite tea vendor last year and again this year: Bana Tea Company!
So much delicious pu’er. I was there sampling for awhile and I didn’t want to leave! I also had a really nice oolong there too.
As usual, I’m a sucker for pretty pu’er wrappers.
Bana Tea Company had a neat break apart tuocha pu’er – 2 squares per gaiwan!
If I already didn’t have 5 gaiwans, I would of purchased a gaiwan here – $8! $2 cups!
It wasn’t for sale as it was an antique – but I had tea served out of this gorgeous gaiwan – the rice shapes were see through so you can see the tea. I want one of these gaiwans so bad, so far I’ve had no luck finding one online.
The Oolong class was very interesting – Thomas talked about this history of Taiwanese oolongs and the different grades/processing/oxidization of oolongs. He went quite indepth into how Oriental Beauty was made via Leaf Hoppers and how it caught on in the west. He showed another method to serve oolong – you steep it in a gravity steeper filling up a bottle. You then chill the entire bottle in ice, serving it in wine glasses.
The Pu’er class was packed! Wow, I was very happy to see many people interested in pu’er! Lots of great information on the differences in the camellia sinensis plant used in pu’er (including ancient arbor trees), history of pu’er and how it got popular, how to identify a good pu’er, differences between dry and wet storage.
Oolong Owl Tea Haul from the Los Angeles International Tea Festival
This year there was a lot less freebies. They give you a shopping bag once you get your ticket in and this year inside the bag was a program, Tea Time Magazine and a Cup (that you’ll do all your tea tasting with). Last year the bag had some extra samples to take home. I got an oolong candy as well as a sample from Waterfall Tea Company during the festival.
I have two cups because my husband came with me, and since he doesn’t drink tea I took all his tea goodies.
My purchases! I first snagged an Ito en Oi Ocha Sincha Green tea (only $1!)
Sencha Naturals‘ Organic Matcha Latte mix in Tropical Mango ($10 for 10oz bag). It is so fruity! I’ll try and review this one sometime.
I preplanned that I was going to buy something from Bana Tea Company. I bought a 2004 Denong Ripe Pu’er ($18 100grams) and it was hard to choose just one tea to take home.
In summary, I love how the Los Angeles International Tea Festival was busier this year – the love of tea is spreading! The fellow tea drinkers I met at the Los Angeles International Tea Festival were a enthusiastic bunch to talk to.
Unfortunately, not as much freebies this year and it was packed with people while I was there Saturday afternoon. I preferred the tea festival being held a little later in the year so there was more hot tea than iced tea. I also think the venue was quite tight, with the tea classroom short on space too.
However, it was worth going for the tea classes and the deals. I noticed this year there was more sales and plenty of coupons for future purchases. Of course, I enjoyed drinking all the great tea and supporting the local tea community!
Bonus: The Ramen Festival was going on next door, so the space (and parking) was tight outside. There were a few cosplayers outside, but the coolest thing was this: HELLO KITTY truck! I’d drive that!