Drinking Tea Virtually

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Guest contribution by: Jennifer Brenner, Director of TeaFestPDX

For many of us who run tea festivals, it was a hard decision this year to cancel events into which we normally pour hours, days, and months of energy and love to create.  Our passion for all things tea inspires us to go to great lengths to bring people together to celebrate the leaf.  When the pandemic forced all live events to temporarily cease, we were left with two choices – take a year off, or create something new (also known as a pivot).

I think the term pivot has been the defining word of the pandemic for me, and embodies the spirit of change, creation, and entrepreneurship.  The shutdown of the country forced us all to stop.  And within that cessation of our day-to-day activity, the quiet brought ideas and — best of all — the time to do things we didn’t make time for previously.  For myself, I also had a deep desire to help and so focused on that which I had the greatest ability to affect – our tea vendors and tea community. And so, Tea-School was born.

Graphic with images of some of the panelists for the tea event
Some of the panelists

Every year at TeaFestPDX, we offer over 30 classes and 500 class seats, which are always in demand and sold out.  In addition, the non-profit we created has the primary mission to provide tea education; but with little bandwidth previously to provide year-round educational offerings.  Tea-School is our solution to both these needs, with an added benefit of providing the presenters with 100% of the class fees – thus helping to support their businesses.  It also allows our tea education to be accessible globally, instead of just on one day at our festival. 

Image of the special edition cup for the tea event
Special edition cup

Since starting in April, we have provided over 25 virtual presentations or talks on tea, many of which were recorded and will be offered on our educational platform after mid-July.  We decided to honor the festival with a Week of Tea: July 12-18, 2020, which will include 6 presentations and a virtual ‘raising of the cup to the tea community’ Zoom meeting on the 18th (the original festival date).  And speaking of cups, we are selling the 2020 special-edition quarantine cups on the website, which will include tea samples from tea vendors who are part of the festival.

The presentations offered are: 

  • Intro to Tea Meditation Practice – July 12th – with Suzette Hammond of BeingTea.com
  • Yaupon Holly – Indigenous American Tea – July 13th – with Bryon White of Yaupon Brothers American Tea

  • Black Teas of India Tasting Tour – July 15th – with Angela McDonald of Oregon Tea Traders
  • Panel: COVID’s Impact on Tea – July 16th – with special panelists Kevin Gascoyne of Camellia-Sinensis, Noli Ergas of Sugimoto, Muskan Khanna of Tea Studio, Mo Sardella of G.S. Haly Company, Bianca Shah of International Tea Importers, and moderated by Raj Vable of Young Mountain Tea

Promotional image from the COVID's Impact on Tea presentation

Image of ladies in Victorian attire with teapots on table in front of them
Ladies in Victorian attire

  • Afternoon Tea & Victorian Pretties – July 17th – with Lisa Hand of Wind Horse Antiques and A Victorian Faire with Tea
  • Summer Tea Beverage Workshop – July 17th – with Suzette Hammond of BeingTea.com
  • TeaFestPDX: Raise a Cup to Communitea – July 18th – virtual tea session with all who want to celebrate the tea community

We are offering a discount on classes as a promotion, just use the code TEA for a 5% discount on your total order!  The Week of Tea will mark the end of our first season of Tea-School, which will return in the fall with more classes.  

 All the class offerings and cups can be found on our website teafestpdx.com

 Hope to see you there!

Images provided and copyright held by author

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