Over the past decade or so music festivals around the world have seen more and more tea lounges and tea servers. These welcome additions to the art and culture scene are a testament to the fast-growing tea market in the West but are also evolving how young people appreciate tea. At any music festival ranging from Lightning in a Bottle to Burning Man (which is host to dozens upon dozens of tea lounges), you will find a comfortable and warm retreat to sit on a cushion and drink tea with new friends. Some lounges are very simple while others are filled with exquisite art and blacklight scenes that can only be found at a rave. The reason for their popularity, of course, is about the tea and its social and healing property, but it also has much to do with space and people.
I have sat for tea in several lounges at music festivals and have even offered tea space in the past. Last month my team traveled to Tidewater, Oregon to host the tea temple at the Beloved Festival. Our arrangement was simple, mostly pulling in the natural elements of the forest into the space while putting the focus on the tea. In the past, we supported Omar Riverstone with his Jasmine Dragon, a trailer that has been converted into an Avatar-the-Last-Airbender-inspired tea truck loaded with beautiful details. His space is a welcoming environment that attracts children and adults alike. There are bits of details that one can explore within the space while making friends and sipping teas. Other tea spaces invoke more of a party vibe such as Tia Quin’s “Gypsy Vibe” black light tea tent. Tia calls herself a visionary artist, astrologer, live painter and tea master and says she uses the space to display her art and network.
Tea servers at music festivals are some of the most eccentric and colorful people of the tea world (this says a lot because tea people are already very eccentric). Everyone has their own passion and way of serving tea. Some are interested in the art of gong fu while others are excited to share new concoctions such as kombucha and tea cocktails. Others use the tea service as a way to communicate their knowledge, such as RonJon Terlane, one of the most experienced of these tea servers. Almost anyone that has had tea at a music festival on the West Coast has sat with RonJon. Our team says that he has probably served more tea than anyone in the United States. RonJon is an avid crystal collector and uses his tea table to display his collection in order to sell and trade his wares. In the end, with a tea table provided it is not uncommon for festival attendees to develop an intense interest in tea and ask to take over tea service. It is a much-welcomed break for tea servers that sometimes sit for hours to serve tea. Our very own Rie Tulali once poured tea with no break (even a bathroom break) for 22 hours at Beloved in 2015.
Transformative festivals are a great way to hear music, see art, and drink tea. All people are welcome, including families, so if you have ever had an interest I highly recommend it. Bring your tea set along and feel comfortable to pour tea at your camp or around the festival. More than likely the event will have a tea space where you can make friends and discover the culture of that community’s tea scene. If you want help finding one that is right for you don’t hesitate to email me at [email protected].