Monday, January 29, 2018

TEA IQ and the Toronto Tea Festival 2018

by guest blogger, Drew Taylor

Tea IQ...

Tea IQ...hmmm.

At first glance, this may seem like a nonsensical concept.  After all, what can you possibly know about tea, that's measurable, beyond either enjoying a good cuppa or not?
I'm married to a tea sommelier and I've been to a few festivals and tea drinking events so I'm not completely lost in the fray, but when you taste something that stands out, it's a real treat.  Sometimes it's a matter of the right drink at the right time.

Having attended the Toronto Tea Festival a few years running, I'd have to say that as unlikely as it seems, there are people with a profound Tea IQ among the myriad throngs of those like me who can tell a green from a black (hey, by the colour--wait, what? Blind tasting!?  Oh, not that kind of blind), and might be able to tell an Oolong from a Puerh (there's definitely a difference and repeated exposure will help clarify it). But tell the difference between the soil of China vs. the soil of Japan or Korea as it affects the flavour of a similarly dried and prepared varietal? How can anyone know tea so intimately?

Three winners

This year, once again, the Toronto Tea Festival will be holding their Tea IQ contest, and aside from the presents awarded to the almost certainly same few who can identify region and subtle differences between many types of tea, there will be that opportunity for everyone else to hone a combination of senses, to quiet the mind and savour the qualities of some very fine brews.  I must say, there was a green tea last year that I could not buy for love or money, but it was the best tasting green tea I've ever had. That's the real opportunity.  The TTF does it up right. You're not trying to tell Tetley's from Twinings, or Red Rose from Lipton, not to take away from those highly successful purveyors of consistently manufactured tea products, but after you've spent an evening with Jeff Fuchs and watched some of his journey in The Tea Explorer, you begin to appreciate that what makes a great tea is more than a hit of caffeine and a hot drink on a cold day.

There's a reason they talk about a tea's "liqueur".

And if Rita is pouring, I'll definitely take what she's having.

Find out for yourself this weekend.  The Tea IQ is held on Saturday and Sunday (Feb.3, 4th) on the Epic stage at 1:30 PM (but get there early) the 6th Annual Toronto Tea Festival.

Tickets can be purchased online, by phone and in person at Tao Tea Leaf.

SPECIAL THANKS to our guest blogger, Drew Taylor for the post and photos!
Drew is a local actor / writer / filmmaker / photographer / handyman.

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