The 6th Annual Pennsylvania Tea Festival took place Friday, September 24th, and Saturday, September 25th, in historic downtown Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania – just fifteen minutes west of Harrisburg and less than two hours north of Washington, DC and Baltimore, Maryland. It is held in the delightful backyard herb gardens of The Rosemary House and the Sweet Remembrances Tea Room.
The Rosemary House and Gardens was founded in 1968 by Bertha Peplau Reppert and is a family-owned herb and spice specialty shop. Susanna Reppert Brill, a professional clinical herbalist, herb purveyor, and consultant, together with her husband and partner David Brill, manages the shop. Her sister Nancy Reppert is the proprietress and culinary artist of the adjoining Sweet Remembrances Tearoom.
I was excited about being a part of this year’s festival since it was cancelled last year due to COVID. I have presented sessions in previous years, but it was extra-special this year to be back in Mechanicsburg. I once again participated, focusing on informing people about the wonderful world of tea.
Susanna, with her warm smile and energetic personality, created a relaxed atmosphere where one could explore the world of tea through lectures, demonstrations, tea tastings, tea pairings, garden activities, and literary chats; all enjoyed amidst the aroma of freshly-brewed tea. It is the perfect chance to sit and “tea chat” with like-minded tea lovers.
The lectures, tea tastings, and tea pairing opportunities that were offered are too many to mention – but to give you a “taste”: There were programs featuring tea tastings and tea pairings such as – “Yellow Tea, What Is It?” “It’s 5 o’clock Somewhere!” “A World of Fruit Flavored Teas” “Charcuterie Board and Tea Pairing” and “All About Chai.”
There were also 45-minute informative lectures on various tea topics that were included in the ticket price. These included such discussions as “Historical Tea Gardens,” “Welcome to the World of Puer – Pu Erh – Pu’er – Puerh,” “Welcome to Tea Rooms – Historically Speaking,” and “The Way of Tea and its Relationship with Literati.”
After attending the lectures and demonstrations of your choice, you did not want to miss Rosemary Alley. Rosemary Alley is the location for a wide variety of vendors. A long row of white tents inevitably draws you in with the promise of an abundance of unique tea-themed treasures. It is also a marketplace of tea purveyors, offering a vast variety of teas to suit all tastes and budgets.
Be sure you have your tasting cup with you to sample the many teas some vendors offer. And by the way, I forgot to mention that your tasting cup came in a Pennsylvania Tea Festival bag with several other goodies, and was included with admission. I must admit, I had made myself a promise that I was NOT going to purchase anything, since I could open a tea shop myself with all the tea “stuff” I have… but I returned home with my PA Festival bag overflowing with things I could not live without!
The Literary Corner is also located in Rosemary Alley. This tent is set up for a variety of authors who attend the festival giving book chats and signing books. There is also one incredibly special thing in Rosemary Alley that you do not want to miss – a colorful supersized chair with a basket full of tea-themed props: The perfect photo op! Often there are people patiently waiting for their chance to sit on the “tea throne” with their tasting cups in hand.
The garden area was a busy place between the vendors, garden tours, several tea tastings, and the hauntingly gentle music provided by local musicians. The soft notes of the music added an additional layer of specialness to the festival.
In this time of uncertainty with the ongoing risks of COVID, this tea festival—so lovingly organized by Susanna—was an opportunity to reconnect with others who are passionate about the world of tea. In the end it was not just about the buying and trying of tea, but also the opportunity to expand one’s knowledge of tea and tea culture.
This event continues to grow every year, so be sure to mark your calendar for the next Pennsylvania Tea Festival on September 23th and 24th, 2022 – and I’ll see you there. We will share a cup of tea as we sit on the “tea throne”!