Festival is Vancouverites’ cup of tea

Kettles and other tea accessories were on sale at the festival. Photo by Montana Cumming.

Kettles and other tea accessories were on sale at the festival. Photo by Montana Cumming.

The first-ever Vancouver Tea Festival took place within the Olympic Village on November 2.

The event was an overwhelming success: tickets sold out just an hour and a half after the doors opened.

Del Tamborini, co-founder of the festival, says that the festival was the idea of several of his former colleagues from the Tea Sommelier Program at the Vancouver Community College.

“We were talking about other tea festivals across North America, and we found out that the idea had been brewing in each other’s head to hold a festival here,” Tamborini told The Link. “Being the can-do people we are, we said, ‘Why don’t we start one?’”

Tamborini’s idea came to life at a venue near the False Creek seawall. The festival featured a little something for every kind of tea lover.

An all-star line up of organic, local, and fair-trade companies offered a selection of natural loose leaf or bagged tea. Quite a few vendors also sold equipment such as kettles, mugs, cups, whisks, and jars for loose leaf tea.

Tastings and demonstrations were done for all sorts of Asian teas, including Chinese, Japanese, Korean, and Taiwanese. And although a majority of the event was deemed family friendly, Tea Sparrow displayed the endless possibilities of using tea in alcoholic cocktails for a 19+ demonstration.

People lined up in the halls outside of the venue for hours to get a chance to enjoy the inaugural event. Tamborini said promoting the festival among Vancouverites turned out to be both the organizers’ greatest strength and liability.

“A liability in the sense that we paid too little attention to rapidly spiking ticket sales, thinking naively that we (and our venue) would be able to handle it, no matter what,” Tamborini explained.

Tamborini also stated that the attrition projected would be accurate, but it was not the case.

“This caused crazy crowds and long lines, even for those with pre-purchased tickets, and caused many people to trash us on social media, damn us and our families to hell, et cetera…”

He and the organizers admit they could have handled the ticket sales and crowding better. “Rectifying that – along with getting a much larger venue (the two go hand-in-hand) – is our single most important issue for next year’s festival,” Tamborini said.

Despite the first-timer difficulties encountered by the organizers, the Vancouver Tea Festival is an event Vancouverites can count on in the future for entertainment – especially big supporters of fair-trade and organic products in the community.