The Fourth Annual Victoria Tea Festival

photo: Daniela Cubelic, owner of Silk Road and one of the driving forces behind the Victoria Tea Festival, demonstrates the proper way of making Taiwan Oolong tea Gongfu style. credit: Gary Hynes


Green, white, red, black: a rainbow of colour was on display this past weekend at Victoria’s fourth annual Tea Festival. Billed as North America’s largest tea exhibition, it was impressive to see just how many independent tea importers and suppliers are based here in British Columbia, each covering their own specific areas of expertise. Every kind of black, oolong, green, maccha, white, red (rooibos) and herbal tea imaginable was available for tasting, and at various temperatures. Festivalgoers were treated to helpful brewing tips and information on the numerous health benefits of the different varieties by knowledgeable presenters, standing by at each of the forty stalls which filled the ground floor and mezzanine of the Crystal Garden.

New to the festival this year was Tula Teas , a woman-owned tea business based in Victoria. This enterprise is still getting off the ground, yet their beautiful display of high-grade teas imported from small, family-owned tea gardens was garnering a fair amount of interest and admiration on Saturday. Vendors came from further afield as well, such as Calgary-based Vastu Chai, whose stall artfully displayed the array of ingredients included in the authentic family masala chai recipe that forms the foundation of their business.

The Tea Festival’s well-attended series of presentations included The Ache’s Pride: How Yerba Mate is Saving a Rainforest and Her People, Chinese Tea Ceremony, English Tea Traditions and Blends, Rooibus and Honeybush Teas, Ceylon, the Island of Tea, and Refreshment of the Spirit: Oriental Tea & Wine Drinking Vessels. I managed to squeeze in to the back of the presentation area and catch chef Heidi Fink’s demonstration on Cooking with Tea, where attendees were treated to samples of Chai Honey Butter, Smokey Maple Salad Dressing featuring Silk Road’s Lapsang Souchong tea, and a delicate Jasmine Tea sorbet. Chef Heidi reassured the audience that all the beneficial antioxidants are transferred to foods that feature tea as an ingredient, in addition to the tea imparting a new level of complexity to a dish’s flavour.

If you didn’t make it out this year, be sure to mark February 12th and 13th on your calendars for next year. This successful fundraiser for the Camosun College Child Care Services is not to be missed.

Comments are closed.