The Sydney Tea Festival will return to Carriageworks in August with fresh-faced stallholders and renewed focus on expanding Sydney’s knowledge of the specialty tea scene. Curated by Rabbit Hole Tea Bar’s Corinne Smith and Perfect South’s Renee Creer, the day promises to be equal parts educational and engaging. Expect a flurry of tea knowledge, halls packed with eager tasters, and culinary offerings from food trucks including Agape Organic and Tsuru. Keep your eyes out for these must-sees.

A burst of new players
This year’s list of stallholders features many new faces. “There’s always someone coming up with something really innovative,” says Smith. Take, for example, Longleaf Tea Vodka, which will be presenting its Ceylon tea-infused vodka at the festival for the first time. Pacific Tea will be presenting its island-inspired teas, including blends such as the You, Me & Hawaii – a tisane of mango, pineapple and watermelon. Sydney-based The Tea Nomad will share its travel-centric teas (Shanghai, Provence or Kyoto, anyone?). Melbourne-based Those Girls Beverage Company (known for its iced blends and hot apple cider) and Canberra-based Endeavour Tea will also be making its way to Sydney for the first time.

Immersive tea experiences
The Tea with a Stranger event will debut in Sydney following a successful run at the 2017 Melbourne Tea Festival. It’ll be held in the same cube as last year – during which visitors experienced a silent, one-on-one matcha preparation – but this year, it’ll host a pair of strangers who, facilitated by a student from the Ueda Sōko Ryū school, will be required to leave their devices outside and – instead – engage. “It’s an opportunity to use tea as a way to connect with other people, leaving technology outside the cube and actually having tea with a stranger,” Smith says. “[In Melbourne], it was really nice to see tea being used as a way of connecting; forever [tea has] been that, so it was great to see that in a contemporary setting.” There will also be a do-it-yourself tea station, where for $20, anyone can develop, and take home, their own blend. “You don’t have to do the full-blown workshop,” Smith says. “You can hop in there and work alongside someone who can help you make the blend of your dreams.”

Lessons from the industry’s finest
Eager to learn more about the nuts and bolts of tea production? Industry veteran and expert David Lyons from 18ThirtyFour will present a series of talks on the origins of tea and tea essentials. LORE Australia will give a workshop on Indigenous tea ceremony, which Smith says is a welcome addition to the tea conversation. “We know a lot about Japanese and Chinese tea ceremonies, but [a lot of people] don’t have any idea that there are traditional tea ceremonies associated with first Australians,” she says. “I think it’s a beautiful opportunity to introduce that to people.”

The Sydney Tea Festival will be held at Carriageworks on Sunday August 20, 9am–4.30pm.

Tickets, which include a tasting cup, are available at sydneyteafestival.com.au.

Tickets to workshops and talks are additional.