Last month I traveled to New York for my yearly tradition of Coffee & Tea exploration at the New York City Coffee& Tea Festival. I was given a ticket courtesy of Starfish Junction Productions and my fellow tea-obsessed friend Stephanie graciously accompanied me. I’m glad I had another set of eyes to help me take in everything, jot notes, point out things, and take photographs. This year we spent a solid 5 (count ’em, FIVE) hours perusing the booths and barely had time to complete a “speed round” before the day was over. Each year new exhibitors are added as well as seminars and workshops.
I always enjoy visiting the festival to see old favorites as well as discover new products and companies. I’ll hi-light a few of the ones that we lingered at the longest or were particularly photo worthy.
Somehow this Japanese tea company’s aesthetic was not only humble and nostalgic, but clean and timeless. I enjoyed the matcha presentation using the traditional wooden ladle and metal pot as well as the individual-sized tea pots. They have a small location in New York City and the staff was incredibly friendly and knowledgeable.
I have a weakness for puerh tea and Mei Mei Fine Teas was singing the song of a siren. We spotted the beautiful cakes of tea from yards away and zeroed in. I walked away with a new-to-me puerh-stuffed young orange (to be brewed like blooming tea). The staff here were very friendly and warm, and later I found out they’re based out of the DC-area. Though their physical storefront isn’t open quite yet, I’ll be keeping a close eye on them.
Stephanie dragged me over to this table to admire their modern and clean packaging. This was one of the only times that we’ve seen Korean teas in a setting like this so we took the staff up on their offer to taste the iseul balhyo and it did not disappoint. In fact, we intended to go back and get a bag to share but we didn’t make it in time!
While Stephanie had seen these on her travels in Taiwan, this brand of tea ware was new to me. You can tell the quality of the products is really high and the designs were traditional yet playful at times. Thank goodness I live in a small condo or else I would have bought a teapot (or two!) to take back with me.
Zhen Tea never disappoints. Whether with a beautiful tea ceremony, centering tea tasting, beautiful gaiwan, or warm staff, I’m always happy to see them. I still have some tea left from my last purchases, but I was tempted by a very fragrant rose black tea. They always have teas that I have absolutely never thought of, let alone seen at other vendors, including a tea almost as old as me!
Everlasting Teas has gone through a huge rebranding effort. The founder visits every farm himself and has a new kickstarter for some hygge-inspired tea ware.
I always enjoy stopping by this company’s booth. Each year they grow in size and their handmade packaging is truly whimsical and unique. I swear the fact that 100% of their profits go to employment and education in Kenya makes their tea taste better.
I really enjoyed SA’s booth. There were many types of approachable green teas and different brewing methods. The Sugimoto family started the company in 1946 and has been part of many generations. They have personal relationships with the farms and are very knowledgeable.
I’m not sure there’s a tea aesthetic that is more perfect for me than Joseph Wesley Tea. Simple, yet full of effort; modern yet not dated. Oh, and the teas themselves are full-bodied and well balanced. He knows how to make things taste good and look good and I feel like I want to be him when I grow up.
Silver Needle is devoted to single origin teas. Everything about their packaging is refined and elegant, yet approachable. I want to have an afternoon tea party and buy myself flowers just because. That’s the type of mood their tea puts me in. This was another booth I didn’t get to go back to on “Round 2: Buy All the Things” because we ran out of time.
& Everything Else
The rest of the booths were diverse and interesting including iced teas, kombucha, mushroom coffee, chai, empanadas, cold brew, pumpkin milk, green coffee, tea soap, and even some tomato dip. It was a grand ol’ time where we were able to unabashedly indulge in tea nerdiness while learning new things and visiting old friends. If you’re in the area, I would definitely recommend the tea festival, or the Philadelphia version.