At the end of January, Special K and I went to the Toronto Tea Festival. The last time we were there was February 2020. It’s the first time it has been held since the pandemic started. Speaking of the pandemic, we are still in it as I post this episode in February 2023. It’s hard to believe that it’s been almost three years since the pandemic was declared, but here we are. I know, you possibly think it’s over. Maybe you’re not wearing a mask anymore. Anywhere. Well, I still am. Everywhere I go. Five vaccine shots and one Covid infection later, I am still wearing my mask. It was no different going to the tea festival. The venue was very small. And quite crowded. Everyone there wanted to taste the best teas the world has to offer. So, with the few exceptions where I tasted tea and talked to vendors, Special K and I kept our masks on. The festival has been held annually except for 2021 and 2022 since, well, sources differ on when it first started, but it might have been 2014. It is set up in what I think is too small a space for the number of people who attend, in the Toronto Reference Library steps
from one of the most famous intersections in Toronto – Yonge and Bloor.
There were a total of 41 vendors at the festival and I started my journey at table 41 Daniel’s Chai Bar. Daniel has even served tea to HRH King Charles III. I asked him to share a few words for ninjaradio and then moved on to talk with Isabelle and Nickola who have what I can only describe as the smoothest teas I have ever tasted. A more frothy mellow matcha latte I have never had.
We then headed over to the David’s Tea booth where we chatted for a long time with Nadia, the Director of Sustainability for the company. We were rather intrigued that a Tea company would have such a position defined. But they are committed to fair trade and eco-responsibility. They have a partnership with Teahorse.ca, a women led indigenous owned company out of Thunder Bay. The featured tea from this partnership is Manoomin Maple. Manoomin is Ojibway for Wild Rice. 10% of the proceeds of their maple tea will go towards the David Suzuki Institute to support Indigenous communities.
Finally, we tested the award winning Cream of Earl Grey at Blink Tea, where I had a chat with the President, Michael Prini. It is astounding how many different types of tea there are and the history and rituals that surround them. I’ve put some links in the show notes if you want to explore further. Have a listen here to my conversations with experts in the field. Enjoy the show.
Listen here: HotFRM 240 35m59s 65.96mbs
Indigenous owned from Thunder Bay: Teahorse
David’s tea ethics, sourcing, and sustainability efforts: https://www.davidstea.com/us_en/sustainability/