If you spend way too much on loose leaf teas or savor bags of one-dollar genmaicha from your local Japanese market, you'll want to check out the Kulov Tea Festival. It's free and can teach you a few things: how to make matcha properly; sip tea out of ceramic cups; and talk about fair trade to people you're trying to impress at dinner parties. During last year's festival at Royal/T Cafe, a yogi tea spokesperson in a bright pink wig jumped around while a traditional Japanese tea ceremony took place a few steps away. Expect to see a man wandering around in a giant green hat -- that's Kulov, who transformed his informal family tea tastings into mainstream festivals.
From May 13th to 15th you can attend tea labs, biodynamic tea tastings, and meditation classes. Registration is now open for workshops, ranging from $10 to $30. Purveyors you may recognize from last year include Algabar Tea, Matcha Source, Naivetea and Zhena's Gypsy Tea.
"It's a lot like wine tasting," said Gail Baral, founder of Algabar Home and Life, of tea tasting. Like wine, she said, "tea is an agricultural product. The grade and quality of tea is dependent on the harvest and the weather."
Chef Kristy Choo of Jin Patisserie is teaching a workshop on tea-infused desserts. Nicole Carter of Las Vegas-based Herbal Experience will make tea- and herb-infused organic body care, and Dianna Harbin, long-time tea educator, will kick off the festival with a free lecture on how to build your own tea community. Oolong tastings will be given by Naivetea and pu-erhs by Zomia Tea.
For additional updates, visit Kulov's website.