Toronto’s tea-filled weekend

Vendors at the seventh annual Toronto Tea Festival use tea as an agent of social change

people at the at the Toronto Reference Library
Toronto's tea festival held at the Toronto Reference Library, Appel Salon on Feb. 6, 2018. Allison Palmer/Toronto Observer

The sweet aroma of tea filled the Appel Salon in the Toronto Reference Library on Friday as vendors sold teas from all over the world during the seventh annual Toronto Tea Festival.

Tea specialists who were drawn to the event care more about milk, sugar or fancy teapots. Several vendors said they are using tea to support local and international communities.

Tracie Michaud, a first-time vendor, decorated her booth and pink and blue. She left her job in the corporate world last year to launch her tea business, Tea with Tracie. She studied at the the Academy of Tea, an online school certification program, and sells teals from the top 10 gardens around the world.

“I’m loving it, it’s so much fun,” she said.

Tracie Michaud’s set-up at the tea festival on Feb. 1. The screenshot is taken from Tracie Michaud’s Instagram story.

Michaud’s business is based in Oakville, Ont., where she also runs her online store. Providing corporate gifts and helping schools and sports teams raise money are her ultimate goals.

“Instead of selling chocolate, or cookie dough kits or things like that, they can sell my tea,” Michaud said. Thirty per cent of the money raised would support the organizations as her way of giving back to the community.

Another vendor focuses on communities overseas. For three years, Annabel Kalmar, the founder of Tea Rebellion, has offered tea from four different countries in Asia, two countries in Africa, and tea’s from Japan, Indonesia, and Taiwan.

Kalmar and two others raised $10,000 last December for a school to be built in Nepal, another country from which she sources tea. The fundraising ran through a site called Ulele that will be built in Nepal. She offered tea to those who donated $100 or more.

“I love tea,” Kalmar said. “I’m German but I spend a ton of time in the U.K., supposedly the tea playground.”

Her teas are uniquely labelled. She says she feels tea should be an experience and we should know where the tea comes from. On the back of the package, the farmer’s photo is featured with a detailed history of the tea’s origin.

The front of the packages feature three words that describe the tea’s character.

bag of tea

Black tea made in Nepal was on display at Toronto Tea Festival on Feb. 1, at the Tea Rebellion setup.

Bill Kamula, spokesperson for the tea festival said this year had the most vendors at 52. More people apply every year, he said.

“We put an invitation out, year to year most of them renew but as new people start new companies, they approach us.”

This year’s event was expanded and held over three days, rather than two.

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Posted: Feb 6 2019 8:55 pm
Filed under: Arts & Life