Oolong Owl Hoots the 2016 Northwest Tea Festival

I attended the 2016 Northwest Tea Festival in Seattle, WA! It was being held October 1 and 2. I was only able to attend the Saturday, but I was there for the entire day from open to closed. It was SO PACKED that my best pictures was after close as there was no huge mass of crowds.

2016-northwest-tea-festival-oolong-owl-1

For public tea festivals, I have attended the Los Angeles Tea Festival three times. The Northwest Tea Festival was easily 4 or 5 times larger, attracting long lines for some samples, sold out tastings, and jammed unmovable crowds. It attracted quite a different crowd than the LA tea festival, we got a more variety of people (though a lot of the “Seattle” looking people). The Seattle Center venue was great and there were plenty of bathrooms! My only complaint was the phone reception was terrible, making it impossible to check my messages, and then finally destroying my phone battery in a short time.

Walking through the festival, there was 29 vendors, many of them local. Right away there was a huge contrast of vendors from the LA Tea Festival as there was more kombucha sellers than matcha! There were some great booths by Young Mountain Tea, Rishi, and Harney & Sons.

However, lets focus on the local tea sellers, starting with Crimson Lotus Tea. I lurked repeatedly at this booth, purchasing stuff three separate times in a single day. I really enjoyed the tea booths that had a place to sit down and have tea together. They also had an awesome wooden table with built in drainage system!

2016-northwest-tea-festival-oolong-owl-30

Crimson Lotus had some awesome goodies that I didn’t know they still had available, such as a giant mound of Planet Jingmais!

2016-northwest-tea-festival-oolong-owl-4

Silver tea pot glamour shot!

2016-northwest-tea-festival-oolong-owl-3

Waste bucket! It was very tempting to sip from the Crimson Lotus waste bucket! I would of put a vote for them having the most tasty of waste buckets, but I didn’t actually taste it.

2016-northwest-tea-festival-oolong-owl-25

Next up is Phoenix Tea. They had some really unique teas for sample however I zoned in on all the heicha logs.

2016-northwest-tea-festival-oolong-owl-10

2016-northwest-tea-festival-oolong-owl-11

2016-northwest-tea-festival-oolong-owl-12

B. Fuller’s Mortar & Pestle was a local shop I did not know about. They aren’t too far from me, so I really need to go sometime. They had a wicked cool steampunk theme with awesome decorations, costumes, and tea packaging. Their corner was also the only place that had 4G mobile… sometimes.

2016-northwest-tea-festival-oolong-owl-72016-northwest-tea-festival-oolong-owl-8

2016-northwest-tea-festival-oolong-owl-6

They had an interesting tasting bar that was very busy!2016-northwest-tea-festival-oolong-owl-9

Friday Afternoon is an online seller of geeky themed tea blends. Here is Friday, the owner.

2016-northwest-tea-festival-oolong-owl-29

This Soldier’s Blend smelled awesome! If you are a blends drinker, you need to check her teas out!

2016-northwest-tea-festival-oolong-owl-5

Of course, I visited Floating Leaves tea multiple times, and purchased from multiple times.. and dragged friends to try the 3 roast dong ding multiple times. I thought I tried most of their teas until I sampled their Aged Maio-li and white tea. I just realized I failed to purchase their white tea. Be sure to check out Floatings Leaves Tea’s GoFundMe for a Taiwan tea documentary!

2016-northwest-tea-festival-oolong-owl-19

Floating Leaves Tea had the prettiest waste bucket.

2016-northwest-tea-festival-oolong-owl-24

Smacha Tea is a local tea shop I have yet to visit as it is on the other end of Seattle, making it a long horrible commute since I lack a car.

2016-northwest-tea-festival-oolong-owl-16

They had an awesome spread of sweets that disappeared fast, including matcha pastries and mooncakes. They had plenty of tea, but all the photos I took was the food.

2016-northwest-tea-festival-oolong-owl-17

I might of bought one of these matcha cakes. There was no evidence, so it never actually happened.

2016-northwest-tea-festival-oolong-owl-18

Perennial Tea Room had a huge booth that was always busy and I never got close to. They had all the cute owl tea wares!

2016-northwest-tea-festival-oolong-owl-32

2016-northwest-tea-festival-oolong-owl-31

Miro Tea had a big spread and a huge selection of tea.

2016-northwest-tea-festival-oolong-owl-14

They had three areas to sit down and have tea, focusing on different teas. I had a great puer session with Anton (after multiple people told me I need to meet this guy). That guy makes a MEAN STRONG cup of tea. I had a 1990’s sheng and a 2000 shou, all leafed heavy, and good quality tea. That’s how you leaf it!

2016-northwest-tea-festival-oolong-owl-27

I also hung out with the local cool cats – Lazy Literaus (yeah yeah, Portland is close enough) and Teadb. I think Lazy Literaus has the good picture of all of us together on his camera. Shout outs to the Steepster friends, and reddit/tea people I met in person!

2016-northwest-tea-festival-oolong-owl-20

At the Northwest Tea Festival you can fill up your day with tea classes, but unfortunately majority of them you have to pay to attend. The tea classes were about 1 hour sessions such as learning to use a gaiwan, focus tastings on specific teas, and cooking. The main stage had talks and presentations going on all day. There was half hourly free tastings that you can sign up for, 3 different sessions going on at a time, on interesting things like heicha, Japanese teas, herbals, Georgian tea, Indonesian tea, Vietnamese tea, Laos tea, and tea infused Italian sodas. Those tastings filled up fast, so I signed up for only a couple of these free focus tastings, trying Tealet‘s Rie Tulali’s Non-Traditional Heicha, which featured some crazy African puer.

2016-northwest-tea-festival-oolong-owl-23

My other class was with Andy Buckman from Great Horse Teas on a tasting of interesting Dancongs. We had a quick round of an aged Dancong that was very impressive.

2016-northwest-tea-festival-oolong-owl-21

An interesting free tasting you can do was these mini focus tastings at the Tea Bar. They were about 5 to 10 minutes long and were 2 teas to taste and compare. I attended a couple, one was a ginseng ripe and cha gao. I did an oolong one, but I was too tea drunk to remember. The finale last tasting was a single tea – a 1996 Menghai sheng, that was insanely delicious that caused me to laugh randomly and not walk straight.

2016-northwest-tea-festival-oolong-owl-28

Northwest Tea Festival Haul

Like other tea festivals, Northwest Tea Festival gives you a shopping tote (which I filled), a program guide, and a tasting cup. I love these tasting cups, it actually a pretty nice cup, and it reduced the waste of million plastic or paper sample cups.

2016-northwest-tea-festival-oolong-owl-38

My three trip haul at Crimson Lotus Tea totaled to be a 2003 Changtai Ji Nian Memorial Sheng, Planet Jingmais from the ball pit, a jianshui cherry blossom tea cup, and a jianshui tea pot necklace. I also scored a tote bag for spending so much.

2016-northwest-tea-festival-oolong-owl-33

2016-northwest-tea-festival-oolong-owl-35 2016-northwest-tea-festival-oolong-owl-34

At Floating Leaves Tea I purchased some 1980’s Aged Miao-Li oolong. I also got a Charaku Tea Roaster. Evil experiments!

2016-northwest-tea-festival-oolong-owl-37

A typical purchase for me is cookbooks. I finally got the Tea Time Magazine Tea & Scones, and Steeped: Recipes Infused with Tea (both amazon affiliate links).

2016-northwest-tea-festival-oolong-owl-36

I also purchased an owl tea cozy… because owls.

2016-northwest-tea-festival-oolong-owl-39

In all, a good festival. I think the 2016 Northwest Tea Festival is worth going to, even if you are from out of town. I had an action packed day. I likely could of gone for day 2 if I signed up for tea classes or if I wasn’t leaving town in a few days.

Bookmark the permalink.
  • Roy

    thanks for this great, detailed review of the festival. Being from new york, i didn’t make it there, but after reading this review, i kinda feel like i did.

  • Kris

    I think Sunday was a bit less busy. Glen really had it going on with his sit down drinking session at Crimson Lotus. With Jingmai tote photo, I’m kinda wishing I would have got the tote bag over the discount! Def something for every tea lover at that festival.