Sydney Tea Festival Expands to Melbourne

by David Lyons 2,749 views1

Sydney Tea Festival Crowds

I ask you – what could be more exciting than announcing a tea festival? Announcing two!

In mid-January, I had the privilege of meeting up with co-founders of the Sydney Tea Festival, Corinne Smith owner of Rabbit Hole Tea and Renee Creer owner of Perfect South Tea. As we sat sipping on beautiful teas at Corinne’s own tea establishment, the Rabbit Hole Organic Tea Bar in Sydney, the girls dropped a bomb shell on me!

Sydney Tea Festival was launched in August 2014 and in its first year attracted around 5,500 tea enthusiasts. By August 2015 the Sydney Tea Festival in its second year, surpassed all expectations by almost doubling its attendance and attracting over 10,000 tea lovers. The bomb shell was about to be dropped as I asked the girls “so, what about 2016? What’s happening”? They both smiled as they looked at each other and as they turned announced – there wasn’t only going to be a Sydney Tea Festival in 2016 but a Melbourne Tea Festival in 2016 as well.

YES, two tea festivals!

The first will be Melbourne Tea Festival on Sunday 29th May 2016 at Melbourne’s Conference and Exhibition Centre. The venue which hosts many of Melbourne’s top events and should be a popular choice with Victoria’s tea enthusiasts.

“Melbourne Tea Festival will be based firmly on the successful blue print that we’ve used to create the Sydney Tea Festival,” explained Corinne. Our objective is the same – to present an event which offers a progressive, inspiring and creative experience that showcases and celebrates specialty tea. “Our focus is and will always be on the consumer – the tea enthusiast, the tea inquirer, and the tea connoisseur,” Renee added. “The festivals exist to inspire more people to discover, experience and really connect with what we call “the adventure of tea,” she said.

Following the Sydney Festival format, the one-day event includes a tea market where specialty tea providers, associated products and producers showcase and sell their goods. A varied selection of tea educational workshops where attendees can learn from the best and most respected tea industry figures will also be present. Tea tasting is a major part of the day and by purchasing a festival tasting cup, visitors can enjoy teas and tisane originating from just about every corner of the globe.

Tea Festival Cup

I asked – “With the incredible social media presence of the Sydney Tea Festival Tasting Cup, would Melbourne have its own and would Sydney be getting a new look?”

The answer was “yes” to both. Each year the festivals will have their own style of cup, which creates a collectable item for many tea buffs. I’m sure the image of the Melbourne Tasting Cup and the new re-styled Sydney cup will be just as prolific on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter in 2016.

Then on Sunday 21st August we come to the original, the Sydney Tea Festival. This year, the event will be once again held at Carriageworks in Eveleigh, Sydney, its home for the last two years. This year, however, it will be held indoors, in a space that’s twice the size of the original venue.

“Our biggest problem last year was the number of people that came, which was an awesome problem to have!” Corinne said. “The larger floor plan will help with crowd flow and interaction between stallholders and visitors. And it will also allow us to accommodate many of the tea purveyors who were waitlisted last year.”

The ever popular tea market will consist of even more stall holders offering their specialty teas and tisanes for tasting and to purchase, there will be tea ware, homeware and producers, and lets not forget the fabulous selection of food trucks and food stalls offering sweet and savory treats that complement the range of teas. The ticketed workshops program will again allow the opportunity to reserve your spot, to interact and gain knowledge from some of Australia’s leading tea professionals. Focus will again be on interactive “hands-on” sessions as well as food pairing.

Renee and Corinne then again looked at each other and smiled “we also have something new for 2016 but we won’t be announcing it. You will just have to attend to find out more”. The festival which has now become firmly planted in Sydney’s social Calendar, looks to have tea cups clattering with chatter as it secures its place as Australia’s premier event for specialty tea.

The festival website for the Melbourne Festival is about to go live and the Sydney event website is www.sydneyteafestival.com.au. As we get closer the team will announce sponsors for the two festivals, tea companies attending and others stall holders via the websites and their regular newsletter. Applications for stalls being presented in the tea market’s will be accepted in February for Melbourne and April for Sydney. For information contact the festival organizer’s through the respective website.

Personally I’m looking forward to attending both Sydney and Melbourne Tea Festivals, catching up with friends, tasting some teas, being inspired by tea people’s imagination and hey, just simply enjoying a good day out!

David Lyons

Originally trained as a classical French chef. Then in 1996, a migration to Australia, motivated me to change direction which created an awakening of my passion for tea. Growing up in Lancashire, England, meant tea had always been taken for granted as an everyday part of my life. The following ten years found me wholesaling quality leaf tea to some of Australia's finest restaurants, hotels and cafes, which required a sound knowledge of tea. I moved into retail and spent a further eight years providing customers with quality leaf tea and convincing the Australian public to adopt tea as their beverage of choice. Today, I'm the owner of 18ThirtyFour, a business dedicated to helping people from all walks of life understand, enjoy and appreciate quality leaf tea through education. Providing a consultancy service to newcomers and established tea businesses, plus writing about the precious leaf, is my way of helping promote the drinking of good tea.

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