Sunday, February 17, 2013

Top Annual Korean Tea Festivals, Fairs, and Conventions

Korea is a festival full nation with hundreds and hundreds of annual festivals. Most festivals in Korea highlight a local custom, tradition, agricultural product, and often occur at a time which best highlights the beauty of an area or during a time of year that is most relevant to the particular industry or product. Like in Japan and China, the harvest of tea in Korea is a symbol of Spring. So it is fitting that the six main tea festivals of Korea take place in Springtime.

Mungyeong Traditional Chasabal (Teabowl) Festival (Late April-First Week Of May)

This festival kicks off the tea festival season in Korea in late April-first week of May. It is located in Mungyeong, a region that was historically influential in the production and evolution of tea bowl ceramics in Korean and conversely Japan. It brings together some of the top masters of Korean tea pottery and is a place where they can showcase their talent. It also draws new potters to the festival trying to establish themselves in the industry. It is maybe the festival that has reached out the most to international participants and visitors over the years. Every year it draw in famous international tea potters as well as there is a contest for international potters. In the years past Korean influenced European potters Petr Novak of Pots and Tea blog and Daivid Lourveau have exhibited there. Cho Hak of Morning Crane Tea blog usually does a tour to this festival every year. The Korean powered tea ceremonies are also a must see at Mungyeong Teabowl Festival.

Hadong Wild Tea Culture Festival (First Week of May)

This festival is located in the heart of Korea's most traditional tea growing region, Hadong. The tea season officially kicks off in Hagong at Gogu (April 20ish) where the yearly ceremony giving thanks to the tea god takes place. The tea festival follows a few weeks later but continues to highlight the most traditional aspects of Korean tea culture such as the Korean tea ceremony. It is also a festival which gets you out into the fields of wild and semi-wild tea and focus on traditional picking and production. It is the only festival that puts you smack dab in the action in the middle of the busiest time of tea picking in Korea.

Boseong Green Tea Festival (Third Week of May)

This festival is located in the most well-know of Korea's tea producing areas, Boseong. The tea festival in Boseong is more of a mainstream Korean tea experience. The event includes not only picking tea and producing it in the perfect looking, machine manicured tea fields, but also trying and even making some of the other agricultural products are produced from the area's tea leaves. Of course there is also a chance to try some of the best green tea Boseong has to offer. The Boseong Tea Research Center has events running throughout the festival.

Daegu World Tea Culture Festival (Thrid or Fourth Week in May)

This tea festival in one of the largest conservative metropolitan citys in Korea, Daegu, draws a big crowd of tea exhibitors from the surrounding tea areas to the South. Tea culture is strong and well in Daegu and it shows in this festival that takes place in the EXCO convention center. Packed full of tea exhibitors, it offers a nice balance of famous Korean tea producers, local tea shops, and tea ceramic exhibitors. Expect a full line up of Korean tea ceremony performances, if you attend.

Tea World Festival (Seoul) (First Week of June)

This is the main annual commercial tea exhibition in Korea and takes place in Seoul's COEX convention center. With the main tea picking season over in Korea, all focus is on this, the largest tea gathering in Korea. All the big Korean producers have booths at this exhibition with tonnes of small producers and farmers with stalls mixed in as well. This is also the festival with the biggest international tea presence. The stage features Korean related tea performances and lectures. One of the interesting events is the open invitation, group, Korean tea ceremony.

Busan International Tea and Craft Fair (Last Week of October)

Busan is clever enough to offer a tea festival in the exact opposite season (six months away) from the best tea picking time in Korea. It definitely quells the thirst of Korean tea lovers as it offers the standard fare of tea and tea related exhibitors in a standard convention center setting, the BEXCO convention center. This convention, as the title implies, has more folk and craft exhibitors in the mix as well.

It should be noted that the festivals that take place in the city convention centers actually take place over a period of 4 days (Thurs, Fri, Sat, Sun) where the Festivals in the growing areas typically run from 5-8 days. It should also be noted that each of the websites hyperlinked in this post have English pages that are accessed in the top right of the Korean page.



Joseph said...

Thanks for the heads up! May is always a busy time with the family, Children's day, two birthdays, and an anniversary, but I hope to make it to Hadong this year. The Seoul tea festival definitely looks like it will be in the cards, though!

Thanks, again!

Greg Demmons said...

The Mungyeong Festival is amazing. This is where my tea master is from and meeting Kim Jeong Ook, the keeper of the Intangible Asset for Ceramics was a highlight. His art is worth travelling to Mungyeong to see firsthand.

Matt said...


Hahaha... Yes, May is a very active time of year for many people in Korea. Think you may enjoy the World Tea Festival in Seoul because of your interest in Chinese tea, hope you can manage to get to Hadong as well.

Greg Demmons,

The Mungyeong Teabowl Festival is so popular among foreigners. When you get to experience Kim Jeong Ok's teabowls and wears, nothing can beat that! Your experience with him and that festival seems very memorable. Thanks for the recommendation.

For others interested in Kim Jeong Oak's work see this link: