Fair Trade Food

Toronto Tea Festival

Wednesday, February 04, 2015carly

This past weekend I attended the Toronto Tea Festival which was held in the Toronto Reference Library. Anyone who knows me knows that I have a strong love for tea, so naturally I jumped at the opportunity to attend this festival.

The atmosphere was great. Most of my friends are coffee drinkers or only like the occasional bagged tea, so to be surrounded by other purveyors of loose leaf tea was very exciting for me. 

Chinese Tea Ceremony set-up

Since high school I've been a fan of tea, drinking multiple cups per day, but it wasn't until the past year or so that I really embraced the world of tea. Tea offers so much to a wide variety of people and I'm happy to say that I'm interested in it all - the different types of tea, how it's grown, where it's grown, the culture of tea, the health benefits of tea, the different experiences that drinking tea can provide - it's all so fascinating to me, so much so that it has shaped the direction of my life as I've started studying to become a Certified Tea Sommelier (through the Tea Association of Canada) so I can one day own my own tea business. Just the thought of it makes my heart race with excitement and I spend days on end planning out all my ideas for my future business, that's how I know that I've truly found my calling. 

So obviously attending the Tea Festival was a no brainer. I got to take in some talks by current business owners and tea enthusiasts; I watched performances of Chinese, Japanese and Korean tea ceremonies (my favourite part of the whole experience!); and of course, I explored all the wonderful vendors who were supplying information on tea, selling tea-wares and accessories, and selling various loose leaf teas along with yummy treats: tea-infused jellies, honey, sweet and savoury short bread and macaroons.

Japanese Tea Ceremony

Korean Tea Ceremony

Chinese Tea Ceremony

Although the tea festival is over for this year, don't fret, it's an annual event and I definitely suggest that you check it out next year. There's honestly something for everyone...

David's Tea - We all know them, they've become the big name in loose leaf tea. They have a wide variety of teas that will appeal to all taste buds, including some organic, kosher and fair trade options. 

T By Daniel - This tea shop is not for me. After trying a few samples I feel like I'm drinking sugar syrup, not tea, and for someone who's not a big fan of sweets, this just isn't my thing. However, I'm sure many people would love it. Daniel has created a brand that adds a fun and adventurous flare to the industry. 

Annanda Chaga - This was my favourite discovery of the event! The company handpicks 100% raw, wild chaga mushrooms from Northern Ontario and turns it into tea. They also sell chaga chunks and powders, as well as chaga soaps, shampoo, skin cream and natural extract. Chaga has so many health benefits and there's so many ways you can enjoy it so if you're into natural health and healing, you must check these guys out!

Bare English & Co. - Tea-infused organic, vegan, fair trade, gmo free, gluten free, all natural lip balm. Need I say more?

Flowers to Fragrance - Seriously, another favourite. Although not a tea shop, Flowers to Fragrance is a local lavender farm that grows lavender as well as other herbs and flowers and uses them to create handmade, 100% natural skin care products. As soon as summer hits, you can bet I'll be here checking out this beautiful farm!

Secret Teatime - These ladies make beautiful ceramic tea wares, my words can't begin to do them justice, you'll just have to check them out for yourselves. They also offer workshops on how to make your own cups, mugs, bowls, etc. I've always been interested in pottery, so I can't wait to give one of these workshops a try!

Pine and Bamboo Ceramics - The name itself is beautiful. These guys offer a variety of handmade Chinese, Korean and Canadian porcelain and stoneware ceramics. Again, everything is so pretty, you'll have to check it out for yourself. 

I can't even begin to name them all, but there was also so many other wonderful boutique tea shops at the festival selling delicious loose leaf tea. I can't wait to check them all out in person and hopefully find a few new favourites! 

Tea Wares

Playing the Guqin - a Chinese musical instrument


Do you prefer drinking tea over coffee?
Do you have a favourite tea shop?
Let me know in the comments, I love to discover new brands!

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  1. Wow this sounds great! I really wish I knew about it, I will definitely keep an eye out and hopefully be joining you there next year! I'm funny because I absolutely adore both coffee and tea—ya I'm way over-caffeinated, oops! I get most of my teas from either Teavana or David's Tea because they are so accessible. Teavana is my favourite of the two especially their Maharaja Chai Oolong. It is super pricey though so it's usually my yearly christmas and birthday presents! xx


    1. It was my first experience of the festival and I had such a great time. I think next year I'm going to attend for both days, dedicating one day to the presentations and ceremonies and the other day to exploring all the vendors. I definitely suggest going! I'll try to remember to remind you of it next year :) As for tea shops, Teavana and David's Tea are both great and offer lots of amazing options and I do buy from both, but I also love to support the smaller, independently owned shops whenever I get the chance!