Kulov's Tea Festival is not your average tea party, but then there isn't much that is average at Royal/T, the Japanese-style cosplay café in Culver City. In addition to tea, there was a contemporary Indian dancer, a classically trained British clown, and matcha — lots and lots of matcha. Saturday and Sunday, May 1-2, nearly 1000 people showed up for the 10th annual festival, which featured a tea marketplace, as well as tea blending, oolong, and fair trade workshops. Crowds formed around speakers and tea masters, with guests listening in on how to make and serve traditional Japanese tea, and how to cook with tea from chef Robert Wemischner. For festival goers there were teas for every palate, from iced matcha with fresh-squeezed lime juice and ginger, made by Matcha Source, to Assam Orthodox Indian teas from Natureal Tea; Ceylons; Darjeelings, and much more. Read on and view photos of the festival after the jump.
“It's a lot like wine tasting,” said Gail Baral, founder and creative director of Algabar Home and Life, of tea tasting. For about three years Baral ran a tea store near Hollywood with her business partner, but the shop closed in October 2009. Her products, teas, and tea-infused jams are now sold exclusively online through her website.
Like wine, she said, “tea is an agricultural product. The grade and quality of tea is dependent on the harvest and the weather. If it's from, say, one province of China or the other.” The interior decorator/tea aficionado compares one of her green teas to Tuscan wine. “One of my green teas has a very soft, subtle green flavor. If you like Tuscan wines, your going to like big, heady flavor. But if you like more subtle flavors, then maybe you'd like a Darjeeling.” By the end of the festival, after sipping white teas, Oolongs, black teas, Matcha, and anything else was that offered up while walking through the crowded tea market, your mind becomes a bit loopy from all the caffeine–but the crash is fortunately much more subtle than a wine hangover.