The Vancouver Tea Festival is set to kick of its third year November 5 at the Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden and the Chinese Cultural Centre of Greater Vancouver.
Don’t worry, though: just because the festival is located in Chinatown this year doesn’t mean it will only talk about and sample Chinese teas. Featuring a marketplace of almost 30 tea purveyors, you would be hard-pressed not to find something you like or that’s in your budget.
Not only does your ticket grant you access to the by-donation workshops and tastings throughout the day (the event runs from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. — that’s a lot of tea!), but it also lets you into the Chinese Garden.
New to the festival this year are plants for sale, tea leaf readings, music, and botanical experts who will be on site.
Festival co-founder and executive director, Del Tamborini — an SFU alumnus and instructor at Vancouver Community College (VCC) for the tea sommelier certification program — talked with The Peak about the festival’s inception, present, and future.
It all started with innocent musings with his friend and colleague, Sharryn Modder, about why Vancouver didn’t have a tea festival — especially since Vancouver is “A gastronomically sophisticated city with such a fondness for quality food and drink.” Together, they brought even more friends into the fold, and created the Vancouver Tea Society, a non-profit with the goal of fostering tea culture, promoting knowledge, and appreciating specialty tea in Vancouver.
The biggest challenge of putting on the festival each year?
According to Tamborini, it’s marketing: “Just getting the word out, ensuring people know this event is happening, and even more than that, communicating to people why it’s worth their time and money to come.” A secondary challenge is keeping it a fresh experience, but Tamborini and company still have plenty of ideas to innovate for future festivals.
Part of future aspirations for the festival include Tamborini’s goal to “Increase the international dimension of the festival in future years and, as our budget allows, bring in some prominent speakers or presenters from the tea industry in other parts of the world. We’ve already had interest in speaking [or] presenting at the festival from several luminaries within the tea world.”
When asked if he likes tea, Tamborini laughed, “You could say that. I eat — well, drink — sleep, and breathe it.” He added that he has thousands of different types of tea in his home and, in addition to the Vancouver Tea Society and teaching at VCC, Tamborini is also working on establishing several companies “that are either tea-focused or have a tea component to them.”
If you don’t have thousands of teas in your home and want to expand your tea repertoire, the Vancouver Tea Festival is your destination for expertise and experience.
To end off with a tea joke, courtesy of Tamborini:
Why did Karl Marx only drink herbal tea?
Because “proper tea” is theft!