Thursday, February 17, 2011

2011 Victoria Tea Festival Overview

Making it through the quick moving line up and through the front doors, one was greeted by the tasteful bonsais of the Silk Road booth. Although the design was much more natural in feel, it was apparent from just the first glance that there were less exhibitors than last year (about 10-15 fewer?).

One navigated past the crowded exhibition hall without spotting any surprises upon first walk through. There were some great conversations had with the different exhibitors though. This year one spent most of the time chatting with the local Victoria dealers that one hadn't got to spend time with before, that was nice.

Expect some posts in the next month or two covering Victor of Tea Farm and his interesting tea growing operation and Libby of Tula Teas and her oolongs. One had a great conversation with the almost 90 year old Yunnan native and exhibitor about her 200 year old puerh tea brick at the May Ip Lam Gallery exhibit. Even met up with another puerh tea lover in Victoria, who would have thought?

Out of the presentations, the Japanese Tea Ceremony by local tea group the Urasenke Nagomi Tea Circle was well done and even included a sampling of specially ordered matcha that Silk Road brought in exclusively for the event which contained flecks of gold. It was served a touch too watered down, a little too flashy, but none the less was enjoyable.

All in all, when around such great tea loving people, you can't help but enjoy yourself.



Ho Go said...

Sounds like a fun way to spend the day. Did you sample any of the woman's 200 year old Puerh?

Off to India again. My love/hate relationship to it continues.........

Matt said...

Ho Go,

Think one would have mentioned it if we tried some of that 200 year old cake! She said that it has been passed down from generation to generation for a few centuries and that you just shave a tinny bit off the brick to make a full bodied pot of tea.

Have a great trip in India! Hear that things are heating up with the whole Gorkhaland independence movement there. Will post one on Darjeeling in the next few weeks in salute to you and your trip. :) Hahaha...


LTPR said...

I was wanting to come up to visit this event, but maybe next year. Glad to see your report on it. Interesting, too, to read about the Cowichan tea growing venture (Victor at the Tea Farm). There's a Japanese family in northern WA that has been growing tea in the Skagit Valley for about a decade now -- I drove up to visit their farm stand last summer and purchased some tea, which I quickly misplaced and so have never tried!! I know they've been traveling to Taiwan in recent years to learn more about making oolongs. They have some of their tea bushes planted next to their farm stand but I can't say they looked all that healthy or juicy. Maybe they've got more planted elsewhere in the Skagit.

I've often wondered how similar the climate is here to certain well-known tea growing areas in China. I would think some of the higher elevations of the Olympic mountains would have terrific tea-growing potential.

- bev

Rich said...

Wow, seriously, 200 year old Pu'er? Wow!

Bev, Sakuma Brothers' does indeed make several types of teas from the several varietals of tea leaves they grow. I visited with a friend in 09 and returned again later in the year. We sampled several of his teas, which all came from what I suspect are tea plants that would best be used for making black tea. He does, however, have most of the equipment necessary to make oolong teas (which we also tried). Their fruit is very tasty! Anyway, he mentioned that one particular varietal did very badly during the winter and pretty much died off (which might be what you also observed); the weather up there may be colder and wetter than is ideal. Olympic Mtns? Hmm, never thought of it, might be a good option!


Matt said...


Oh yeah, heard of those guys before. Thanks for the link though. Think that the Olympic Mountains might be too cold unless they are grown in a micro climate- perhaps in a south facing low altitude. Wonder if its been tried before?

Hope you end up someday finding that elusive bag of tea someday! You'll have to let us know how their oolong tastes aged. Hahahah...


Heard that the first owner/operator of the Steeps tea bar chain in Canada had consulted with those guys regarding the best type of tea to grow in Canada. They were the Northernmost tea garden in North America until this Tea Farm crop popped up.

Thanks for giving us the details of the tea production there.

No kidding, a 200 year old brick!


Pedro said...

I think the pu'er powered lady may have picked the leaves for that brick herself :)

Humour aside, she has a fantastic story and creates seriously nice pieces of art; looking forward to visiting her gallery and chatting over tea.

Matt said...


Yeah, thanks for pointing them out. She wasn't working the booth the first time around and the tea they were selling wasn't that exciting- good ol' tea of the masses. The art was interesting though. Nice people.