After two successful years of the Sydney Tea Festival, and in advance of a third Sydney event in August, co-founders Corinne Smith and Renee Creer are setting their sights on Melbourne.
“I think it was an obvious expansion for us to go to Melbourne,” says Smith, co-owner (with Amara Jarratt) of Rabbit Hole Organic Tea. Perfect South owner Creer says that the first Melbourne Tea Festival will focus on the “many amazing tea companies” in Victoria.
More than 50 stallholders will put on the kettle at the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre on May 29, including Melbourne-based Storm in a Teacup.
“It’s telling us that tea culture and a bigger tea community is growing in Melbourne,” says Storm’s wholesale manager, Charlotte Grey. “It’s not a big old boring trade fair where you’re touching base with other businesses; it’s about getting in touch with people and bringing tea into homes.”
With a focus on “loose-leaf specialty tea”, Creer says the festival will feature all kinds of tea purveyors and companies.
“We try to balance things between local tea and international tea, and people who are doing chai and people who are doing herbal tisanes,” she says. “We are trying to showcase the diversity of tea because it’s a crazily diverse thing. It’s not just about green, black, white, in a supermarket, in a bag. It’s a whole other thing going on.”
On top of the stallholders and a designated “brew lounge”, the festival will host a selection of “hands-on” workshops and events. The festival’s first incarnation will include workshops on such topics as tea and food pairing, tea-leaf reading and chai blending. There will also be, Smith says, a tea-inspired art installation centred on the Japanese tea ceremony by artist Yuka Mikayama.
“We want people to explore and find and delight in specialty tea, which has never been hugely available,” says Creer.
“Any sort of celebration en masse like that draws attention,” Smith adds, “and it can’t help but promote and celebrate everyone, and create a vibe of what’s going on down there.”
The Melbourne Tea Festival will take place at the Melbourne Conference and Exhibition Centre on Sunday May 29. Doors open at 9am.