How Can A Tea Festival Be Virtual?
One of the most treasured experiences of U.S. tea lovers over the last decade has been our Tea Festivals. Starting on the west coast with the L.A. Tea Lovers Festival, at British Columbia’s Camosun College Tea Festival Fundraiser and Seattle’s Northwest Tea Festival, communities of tea people gather for socializing, tasting and education and the trend has grown across the U.S. Some people travel to attend several of these gatherings every year. Not this year! All live tea events have been cancelled and some have converted to online experiences. But, without the ability to socialize in person and sip together, what can happen beyond Zoom Room classes and vendor ads.
The 2020 International Virtual Tea Festival (was the Chicago International Tea Festival) is continuing the creativity that some of the other tea organizations started over the last six months, offering a weekend tea marketplace along with meetings and webinars and some interactive fun.
A Tea Lover’s Marketplace
There will be 50 virtual booths where vendors can feature select products, be on hand to chat with guests, schedule private meetings and demonstrations. Since the timing will mark the beginning of the holiday season, many vendors are will be featuring gift sets in addition to festival specials on tea and teaware.
There will also be Swag
Collectible tasting cups and bags of samples have become one of the things worth registering early for. IVTF will have Swag Boxes. There will be a limited number of two different Swag Box options. One is a Basic Swag Box and the other is a VIP version. Each one includes the porcelain tasting cup commemorating the festival but also samples and goodies from our generous sponsors. Ten of the Swag Boxes will contain a special Golden Ticket! These are some of the more valuable prizes donated by our sponsors.
New Ways to Taste Tea
What about a virtual tasting?
Imagine this: you join a meeting with a group where the host demonstrates infusions of several different teas. Explore why certain tea ware was chosen, how different choices of water and temperature and time affect the flavor of that tea. The host can show you the wet leaf, dry leaf and infused liquor. The sensory experiences of touch, taste and smell can’t be virtual, of course, but some presenters will be listing teas and methods enough in advance for you to be able to follow along during the workshop.
Expanding Your Tea Knowledge
The 2020 International Tea Festival is now scheduling approximately 40 LiveStream workshops and lectures and about the same number of pre-recorded classes. Additionally, vendors will be organizing demonstrations and special events, inviting guests in their booths to join private sessions. And the magic of virtual allows us to invite speakers from around the world and then record the sessions so that many will be available after the weekend is over. Come to chat and share a cup with your favorite tea teachers.
And Have Some Fun
The platform on which the event is built even has tools for interactive “gamification” and there will certainly be some tea-themed prizes in addition to ten Golden Ticket Prizes. During the weekend of the festival we will provide a free Zoom Room with some of the fun events. This is where T Ching will be announcing the winners of our 2019 “Best Of…” Writer Awards. This schedule, as well as the full educational program, will be announced in September.
As organizers and sponsors for this event, T Ching and the Tea Sippers Society will be using our online resources to promote 2020 IVTF as we have for other tea festivals – but even more robustly. With so much that has happened in the last six months, we want to be a part of making this broadly diverse and widely available to all tea lovers. In addition to presentations for which there will be a fee, we will have an equal number of free sessions. And there’s no admission charged to enter the virtual marketplace.
Registration for General Attendance (free), for the Swag Box & for VIP Package opens on July 25th