The website for the Toronto Tea Festival promised an event where you could sample hundreds of teas, learn from the experts in the industry at one of the 7 presentations, watch a traditional tea ceremony, participate in a silent auction, enter a raffle, engage with exhibitors to learn more about tea, and shop teawares, teas, and related products. I believe this was billed as the first annual festival, so there are likely more to come in the future years.
On the bright side, the one presentation I did make it to was very good. There was definitely a lot of knowledge in that room - it was just hard to access because of the overcrowding. It was easy to spot trends in tea (e.g. blueberry and cinnamon are big this year) and compare some of the vendors as many were tasting similar products. And there was free coat check. On the whole, I would say the event as it is right now isn't really worth the $15 admission price but there is hope for it to grow into something bigger and better next year. I would not attend if the set-up is the same next year but if they move to a bigger location and more sponsors come on board, I would definitely consider giving it another go.
WHAT: Toronto Tea Festival
WHERE: Toronto Reference Library, Appel Salon
WHEN: February 2, 2013 - 10:00am-5:00pm
COST: $15 at the door
INSIDER TIPS: Go early! There was a line to get in later in the afternoon and some of the vendors ran out of many popular tea blends. Also, look at the prices carefully. I didn't really see any deals at the event. In fact, some of the prices were higher than what I would pay for a similar blend at David's Tea when you consider how many grams you were getting. So think twice before you buy.