Chicago is home to a diverse community of tea merchants and enthusiasts eagerly anticipating the inaugural three-day Chicago International Tea Festival in November 2019.
The event, which is produced by Taste All The Teas, is November 1-3 at the Holiday Inn Chicago Mart Plaza River North. After an official multicultural opening ceremony on Friday, the festival opens with a tea market featuring more than 40 local, regional and international vendors situated for sampling and selling.
"This festival is about so much more than browsing with the merchants and adding to your tea cabinet. Through multiple workshops and lectures you will enhance your knowledge of everything tea," writes Festival Director Nicole Burriss. To retain the event's focus on tea, at least half of the products on offer at each booth must be tea or tea-related items. The educational program features more than 40 speakers teaching more than 75 classes and several special events.
Attendees receive a reusable shopping swag bag, a collectible porcelain tasting cup (unlimited tastings are free with cup) and an opportunity to judge the People's Choice Tea Competition. There will be free lectures and demonstrations as well as more in-depth classes and workshops for an additional fee. Courses are at a level useful to and entertaining for food and beverage industry professionals as well as the tea-loving public, making this event a unique hybrid, says Burriss.
Organizers envision an environment that is both a marketplace and an educational platform addressing wide ranging interests and experiences, she explained. "While attendees sample and shop the world of tea, the industry observes the trends first-hand," she explained. "Each day is packed with workshops and classes in addition to all the tea you can taste."
"On Friday, the educational roster is geared more towards food and beverage industry professionals but die-hard tea enthusiasts will find topics of interest to them as well. Then on Saturday and Sunday the public will enjoy Tasting Cafes, Food and Tea Pairings, Ceremonies and cultural experiences, with introductory level classes that include hands-on workshops, lectures, and cultural experiences. In addition educational opportunities for industry professionals will continue," she said. Festival-goers can participate in a Passport to Tea, a self-guided tasting tour as well as vote for the People's Choice Award winner.
The festival closes Sunday afternoon with an Afternoon Tea Buffet and keynote talk by Lorna Reeves, editor of Tea Time Magazine, named Best Tea Publication at the 2014 World Tea Awards.
Special Friday only events include:
- Breakfast with the Rock Stars of Tea - Buffet breakfast before classes start with Kevin Gascoyne of Camellia Sinensis, Lorna Reeves of Tea Time Magazine, Virginia Utermohlen-Lovelace of Pair Teas, Sharyn Johnston of Australian Tea Masters and more. (Additional ticket required.)
- Official Opening Ceremony - Cultural representatives from countries around the world will share their teas with each other in peace and good wishes to officially open the event and usher in a weekend of international tea connections and friendship.
- Lunch with Cultural Dignitaries - A tasting flight of teas provided by representatives of tea producing regions and countries with strong tea cultures accompanies a delicious plated lunch prepared by the chefs of the Holiday Inn Mart Plaza. Representatives from Japan and Sri Lanka, of Nepal, China and India and others will be present and will talk a bit about their regions' ties to tea. (Additional ticket required.)
- The Champagne of Teas (movie screening) - Exclusive screening of Kevin Gascoyne's movie about Darjeeling (Additional ticket required)
- Opening Night Casual Cocktail Reception - Light nibbles and a drink to kick off your tea weekend in Chicago. (Additional ticket required.)
Organizers include: Babette Donaldson of International Tea Sippers Society, Dan Robertson of The Tea House in Naperville, Agnes Rapacz of Tea Gschwendner in Chicago, and Youlian Banov of The Dragon's Treasure in Chicago.
Instructors and lecturers include James Norwood Pratt, author; Suzette Hammond, Being Tea; Dan Bolton, Tea Journey Magazine; Bruce Richardson, Elmwood Inn Fine Tea; Virginia Utermohlen-Lovelace, MD, Pair Teas; Jeni Dodd, Jeni Dodd Teas; Tony Gebely, Tea Epicure and Hugo Tea Company; Cynthia Gold, L'Espalier; Noli Ergas, Sugimoto Tea; Jason McDonald, Great Mississippi Tea Company and more. Click to see the class schedule.
CHICAGO INTERNATIONAL TEA FESTIVAL
Friday, November 1 - Sunday, November 3
- Single-day admission $25
- Two-day pass $35
- Three-day VIP pass $45
- Tea industry professionals pay $35 for a three-day pass
Buy your tickets today at https://on.spingo.com/e/Chicago_International_Tea_Festival