The Seattle area loves its coffee. That we know. But, there are plenty of people who are just as passionate about a great cup of tea.
For those who love all things tea, a visit to the sixth annual Northwest Tea Festival should be planned. The festival, slated for October 5 from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and October 6 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., will be held in the Fisher Pavilion at Seattle Center located at 305 Harrison Street in Seattle. Entry is open to the public with an admission fee of $10 per person. Children under 12 are admitted free. Admission is good for both days and includes a porcelain tasting cup, but those attending again on Sunday must bring their paid ticket and tasting cup to gain re-entry with no additional charge. On hand at the festival will be a series of presentations and workshops, including such free topics as "Tea 101 from Soil to Cup," "Modern America Tea History," "How to Make Moist and Delicious Scones," "Tea and Chocolate Pairing," and "British Tea: Then and Now."
In addition to the free workshops and presentations, there are opportunities to participate in some workshops that require a reservation fee made in advance on the festival’s website.
James Norwood Pratt and Devan Shah will teach one such workshop, "Tea Sommelier." The workshop costs $75, and it is geared toward the serious tea drinker as well as restaurant professionals. Pratt is an author and authority on wine, tea and tea lore. Shah is an internationally renowned tea importer. Another paid workshop, "Traditional Korean Tea Ceremony," at $20 per person, will feature experts from the Pacific Asia Cultural Center performing with a display of traditional full-length Korean gowns (hanbok), teapots and ritual movements.
The festival will also offer tea-tasting sessions using the tasting cup supplied with admission. Attendees can compare teas such as Taiwanese oolongs, Japanese teas, white teas, green teas and rooibos teas. Seating is limited, but attendees can reserve a seat for a specific session by signing up on a first-come basis at the festival information and ticket booth or pre-registering online. A printable PDF of the tea tasting session schedule each day is available online.
Over 15 vendors will be on hand throughout the festival, including An Afternoon to Remember Fine Tea and Gifts, newly based in Bothell’s Country Village.
Owner Amy Lawrence will have a booth, teach the scone making class and offer an oolong tea tasting. "I sell all kinds of teas at the festival, but my pumpkin masala chai is the most popular and always sells out even though I bring more each year," Lawrence said.
She estimated last year’s attendance at the festival was around 2,000 people, having grown in popularity the last four years she’s participated.
Mike and Emeric Harney of Harney & Sons, a festival sponsor, will make their festival debut and have a booth offering several products. The company is a nationally known retailer of high-quality loose teas and tisanes, and their teas are exclusively served at Barnes & Noble cafés. In addition to Harney & Sons, festival sponsors include Choice Organic Teas, Perennial Tea Room, Ito En, Smacha, Bunn, Tea Time Magazine, and Northwest Folklife. The festival is being produced by the Puget Sound Tea Association, a group of tea vendors in the greater Seattle area that was founded in 2006. For more information about the festival and to register online for select workshops and pre-register for limited seating for select presentations, visit nwteafestival.com.