Last month I traveled to New York City for the 2015 New York Coffee and Tea Festival. This year it was held in Brooklyn instead of Manhattan, which some people griped about but I actually enjoyed. As I get older, I gravitate towards Brooklyn more than Manhattan, but I still love to visit the main city since it is much more accessible.
Apparently the move to Brooklyn was made so that the space would be larger. Unfortunately, I think the venue seemed about the same size. There were still lines and crowding to get to certain areas and at times it was difficult to talk to the vendors themselves. It was also hot inside and there were limited food options. We had learned from our past experience in 2014 and ate before-hand so we would be fueled for tea, coffee, and shopping. We also limited impulse purchases. We walked around and made notes of any vendors we wanted to re-visit so that we wouldn’t have to carry a lot of stuff and so that we could make sure we wouldn’t end up with buyer’s remorse like last time. I think Stephanie ended up with no less than 8 different Taiwanese oolongs because each stall seemed to be better than the last!
I enjoyed seeing some repeat visitors from last year, but missed some (Yezi!! Why weren’t you there?!). I also missed being able to talk to the vendors since I felt rushed due to the crowds and the heat. I was also disappointed because it seemed more “mainstream” this year. There were tea vendors that didn’t know what materials their tea bags were made out of and some vendors that didn’t even sell tea, coffee, or anything related to it.
I still enjoyed myself and am glad that I extended my stay a few days to check out Greenpoint and a new tea bar called teadrunk. Next year I would like to see some smaller, more focused companies and less chains and corporations. Before going, I had cataloged my tea at over 100 different kinds so I tried to be quite choosy with my purchases.
I purchased: The Book of Tea (Second Edition) – Signed, Mount Gray Tea from Damn Fine Tea (a favorite of mine. It’s takes a LOT for me to re-purchase a tea), Owl’s Brew Coco-lada Concentrate, a boutique Da Hong Pao oolong from yu teahouse, and my first gaiwan from Zhen Tea. No one could believe that I went to New York for a tea festival and only bought 2 teas! Stephanie and I split our stash so I also have some Light Tie Guan Yin from FirsdTea and Gao Shang Cha from Silver Needle. I probably would have purchased more if the vendors would have had their items available — some were sold out and some just weren’t selling tea.
I encourage anyone that likes tea or coffee to attend the festival. There were vendors for all levels and even entry-level drinkers. It’s fun to go when it’s a bit quieter (either VIP hour or towards the end of the day) so you can talk to the people themselves more. I know some people went both days so that they could attend some of the seminars and workshops.
Here are some spots that I took more than a few photos at.
Damn Fine Tea
Joseph Wesley Teas
Silver Needle Tea Co
My Zhen Tea
The Veda Company
Honey & Apothecary
Disclaimer: I was provided press passes to this event