2017 Vancouver Tea Festival: Recap

This past weekend, on November 4th and 5th, it was the annual Vancouver Tea Festival – hosted and organized by the Vancouver Tea Society at the Chinese Cultural Centre of Greater Vancouver and the Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden located in the heart of Chinatown in Vancouver, British Columbia. This was also the first year that the Vancouver Tea Festival took place over two days, with presentations and tea tastings happening on both days.

Ticket prices varied from $7.95 to $24.95 depending on the number of dates (and which date), and if you opted for Exhibition Hall admission only or Exhibition Hall and Garden admission. There were children tickets available for free. Attendees also received a white sampling cup to tasting tea.

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On the first day that I attended, I focused primarily on the Exhibition Hall where the marketplace was held with all of the vendors. Here are some of the highlights of some of the things that I saw at the booths.

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Cold Steeping vs. Sun Steeping

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All tea drinkers know the usual steeping formula: tea leaves + hot water = tea! But what about cold steeping (also referred to as cold brewing) or sun steeping? I decided to do a little experiment!

I used DavidsTea’s Honeycrisp Apple because it’s a tea that I love hot or cold, and I also had enough to complete this experiment. I use about 1.5x the usual amount of tea leaves that I would use for my regular steeping method. The amount of tea you use is entirely up to you. The benefits to both of these steeping methods is that you don’t run into the issue of bitter or oversteeped tea. Part of the reason why some teas are so tempermental is that they are sensitive to high temperatures and long steep times.

Cold Steeping/Cold Brewing

I put 2 spoonfuls of the tea into a mason jar and filled it up with room temperature water. The lid goes on, and I put it into the fridge. I started the process at 11pm and strained the tea leaves out at 9am. Total steep time: 10 hours.

Sun Steeping

I put 2 spoonfuls of the tea into a mason jar and filled it up with room temperature water. The lid goes on, and I put it out onto my patio in direct sunlight. I started the process at 11am and finished it at 3pm. Total steep time: 4 hours.

Most online references I found for sun steeping or sun steeped tea says to limit steeping between 3 to 5 hours.

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How does it taste?

For both jars of tea, I used a strainer to capture all of the tea leaves. What I was left with was two jars of tea.

The cold steeped tea was a nice, sweet tea, it smells just like the dry leaf and has a nice sweet taste that was almost as if I had added sugar or honey (except I hadn’t).

The sun steeped tea was considerably stronger in aroma – the apple flavour was quite fragrant. The flavours are stronger, brighter, but not quite as sweet.

I think the cold steeped tea requires less cooperative weather, I’m not sure how well it would fare if there was a bit of overcast as I picked a fairly sunny day that had highs of 22°C (~72°F). Cold steeping is something that’s easy to do if you do it the night before. Say you wanted iced tea for a party, just set up a pitcher and put it into the fridge. This is easiest if you have drawstring tea bags so you won’t have to strain out the tea later.

Both methods result in bitter-free tea, which is great since I did pick a tea blend that has a green tea base. This would be great with any type of tea since it won’t burn the tea leaves during the steeping process. I think both methods would be great for iced tea, just add some cubes after you’ve strained the tea.

 

Recipe: Earl Grey Shortbread Cookies

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I took part in a cookie exchange at work this year, and nearly everyone there knows that I drink tea. Some people had written down what they were going to be making (sugar cookies! butter tarts! ginger snaps!). I love shortbread and I’ve made it every single year for at least the last 10 years. I really wanted to incorporate tea into my cookies somehow, so I took my usual shortbread cookie recipe and adapted it! The result is a buttery shortbread cookie that has the delightful aroma and flavour of Earl Grey throughout.

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Recipe Yields: 4 dozen. Baking Time: 10-12 minutes

Ingredients:

2 cup soft butter
2¾ cups all purpose flour
1 cup confectioners (icing) sugar
Contents of 4 Earl Grey black tea bags (I used Stash, it worked out to be 8g of fine tea)

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350°F.
Cream butter and confectioners sugar together.
Mix flour and Earl Grey tea together so the tea is evenly distributed.
Blend all the ingredients together. If you’re using a mixer, it will crumb at the beginning but if you continue to mix it, it will form a dough.
Drop about a tablespoon of dough onto the cookie sheet for each cookie, give them space as the cookies will spread (I get about 12 cookies on a standard cookie sheet and there is about 1.5″ between each cookie).
Bake for 10-12 minutes, or until the bottom edges begin to turn brown.
Remove from the oven, allow them to cool for about 5 minutes prior to transferring to a cookie rack. If you transfer them too early, they’re quite soft and may crumble.

Recipe adapted from SageCrayon.

If you make these delicious Earl Grey shortbread cookies, I’d love to see your photos! Be sure to tag me on Instagram (@onemoresteep #onemoresteep) or comment below with a link to the photo!

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2016 Vancouver Tea Festival: Recap

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Despite the poor time that I had at the 2015 Vancouver Tea Festival, I decided to give it another try this year. This year, the 3rd annual Vancouver Tea Festival took place on Saturday, November 5th at the Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden in Vancouver’s historic Chinatown. What a beautiful venue that they had chosen, and it wasn’t even terribly rainy (while I was here), which was greatly appreciated.

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The vendors were situated in one building, while the classes/workshops (as well one vendor, Phoenix Perennials) were located in another building. It was quite confusing at first, because when I went to register at a table and get my tasting cup, I wasn’t told that the vendors were located in another building. The workshop that I most wanted to take part in was an early one, and it had already been filled by the time I had arrived. I opted to wander over to the vendors (after asking for directions…).

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This year they had about 30 vendors, I believe, and because I was there early it wasn’t too crowded. I was able to discuss tea with the vendors, as well as get in to try some more teas, and even make a few purchases! There were different vendors this year (as well as some repeats), and I got to talk to a good portion of them. I didn’t feel this year that I wasn’t being pushed and shoved while speaking to vendors and other attendees, which definitely made this year’s experience enjoyable.

I made some purchases from Oollo Tea, Modern Tea, The Chinese Tea Shop, and Aroma Tea House – so look forward to reviews from those soon! Many of the teas that I bought were oolongs, which I’ve become very fond of lately.

Lattes at Home (Without the Fancy Equipment)

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Whenever I’m feeling particularly fancy, I like to make myself a tea latte at home. There’s all sorts of fancy equipment that you can buy to make this easier, but what I use is a small mason jar with a lid. Seems deceivingly simple? Well, it is! Fancy drink made with not-so-fancy tools? An overall win, I’d say!

I have my tea steeping before I start on the milk. In the photos, this was a latte made with DavidsTea’s Pumpkin Chai. You can use any kind of tea to make your own latte! It works best if you mix in your sweetener prior to the addition of milk.

Pour milk into a microwaveable jar. I filled a 250ml (1 cup) mason jar approximately 1/3 of the way filled, and then screw on a lid.

Shake, shake, shake! As the milk becomes frothy, there will be less sloshing sounds from the jar. You’ll be able to tell when it’s done when the sloshing sound is pretty much gone. When you take off the lid, you’ll find that it’s filled with foam.

With the lid off, microwave the frothy milk for about 30 seconds. The microwave helps to set the foam so it won’t disappear as quickly.

I use a spoon to hold back the foam as I pour the milk into my tea, and then I use the same spoon to push all the foamy goodness onto the top of my tea.

Bonus Tip: Take a photo and share your fancy tea latte with your friends! Homemade lattes always seem to elicit positive feedback, they’ll never have to know you didn’t buy a milk frother!

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