Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Coffee & Tea Festival Fun

I had such a wonderful time at this year's NYC Coffee & Tea festival! There was a great number of tea vendors, including companies I've tried before such as Harney & Sons and Capital Teas, and exciting new ones such as T-Drunk and The Tea Merchant. The 69th Regiment Armory has high ceilings which gave the space a nice airy feel despite the crowds. My friend Rit and I only had one day to get through all the booths. Fueled by tea samples, we did quite well. Here are just a few highlights:

The first booth we encountered was Press Tea. I recently visited their lower east side store which I found out was a test store. The company will be opening a larger store in the west village soon. Through the experience in the test store, they tweaked recipes to make even tastier drinks. If the sample I was given is any indication, it will certainly be better than before. I had a black rose tea with cream on top, and it was absolutely delicious. Their booth was consistently crowded, a good sign for the upcoming store. If you are curious, here is an adorable video about their brewing process.


Rit and I decided to do a tea flight at the T-Drunk booth. I love the name of this company! The owner Shunan is passionate about Chinese teas and is trying to open a store and website in the next few months. The tea flight was prepared Gongfu style, and we tasted a few lovely green teas and a cliff Oolong. We learned about these teas, along with other important facts. We learned about one coveted type of water in China called 'snow blossom tea water'- snow is collected off of the tree blossoms in winter and let to sit for a year before use. This is apparently the best water you can use! Shunan is planning on offering tea classes in her new store, and I will definitely be signing up. I learned so much from our brief 1/2 hour tasting. We had so many generous samples, I was on the verge of becoming tea drunk!

Both Rit and I picked up a selection of Darjeeling from the Glenburn Tea Estate. We tasted three of them and they were just too tempting. The first flush is the epitome of springtime in a cup. The folks at this booth were warm and friendly. I look forward to many beautiful cups of Darjeeling in the coming weeks.

We were lucky enough to get a seat for the Chinese Tea Ceremony presented by Haiya Grzelak of Lotus Leaf Tea. Haiya gave a graceful presentation with music and calligraphy along with the tea. She conveyed the sense of peace and happiness that radiates throughout the tea ceremony.

The cheerful guys from Damn Fine Tea gave out awesome little buttons and tattoos. I love their Assam, and have been meaning to try more of their teas. I'm also a sucker for their artistic packaging. I picked up their double knit blend, which has been on my to-purchase list. Review coming soon! The guys were lots of fun to chat with.

One of my favorite booths was from A Gift Of Tea/iHeartTeas. It was a joy to see Jo of A Gift of Tea, and read through her various children's books. I brought a mini book home for my daughter, who has been talking about it ever since. I also picked up a delectable Green Tea & Lemongrass lip-balm from iHeartTeas. It's perfect for this early spring weather.

As the day was drawing to a close, I met Joey Lanford who runs The Tea Merchant. He's very sincere in his love of tea. Even though it was time to pack up, he was chipper and friendly. He gave me a few samples to review, so look for those soon. I'm also excited for his kickstarter. He designed a useful tea tumbler, pictured below. He mentioned he is still selecting materials but it sounds like he's off to a great start.

It was a tiring but fabulous day. Special thanks to Rit for being my tea tasting sidekick! Tea is always special when shared with a friend. Here are a few pictures of other vendors we enjoyed:
Fang gourmet tea booth.  I was glad to see them here!
Fang Gourmet

Delicious Cinnamon Spice tea from Harney & Sons

The always popular Capital teas



  1. What a lovely recap. I am so glad you were able to do so much in a day. I am also thrilled you picked up one of my lip balms. The Green Tea & Lemongrass is an all time favorite and for good reason. Wish I could have been there but reading posts like this have really helped place me there. Thank you for sharing your story.

  2. I agree with you about enjoying tea things with a friend. You experienced so much in one day! I look forward to all your reviews.

  3. I'm glad that you enjoyed the festival too and I'm sorry that we missed each other. We must have been right near each other during the Chinese tea ceremony. Hope to catch you at another event soon!

  4. It was great to meet you @ the expo! My only regret was not actually having a chance to check out the other vendors. So many looked very cool and that earl grey ice cream seemed very interesting. Did have a chance to meet Mr. Harney who is a great guy and showed some interest in the tumbler i'm developing, so that was exciting!