So, unfortunately the Vancouver Tea Festival was cancelled in 2022, and didn’t resurface for 2023 either. It hasn’t had a proper event since 2020, but I’ve heard rumblings that there are new parties interested in planning for it, so hopefully we’ll see that comeback this year.

That said, 2023 was the year I vowed to get things together so I could do some proper travelling… My passport being the key item. Not having the Vancouver Tea Festival did kick me into making the trek onto a ferry to attend the Victoria Tea Festival. We’ll see how things expand this year.

I went to the festival with two key companies in mind–Softer Drink, a Victoria-specific vender that focuses on specialty beverages, and is the Canadian import for KuuraCorp, a puerh and other tea vendor out of Australia. I’d wanted to go to last year’s Victoria Tea Festival to check them out, but didn’t end up making it. The other vendor was new–Keira’s Tea Cellar. I’ve met Keira before at previous Vancouver Tea Festivals (and I believe also at VanCha), and she recognized me before I’d even fully gotten into the building. Being able to speak to both was fantastic, and I was able to scoop a few teas.

This year had a great lineup of seminars; I knew I wouldn’t be able to sit through all of them, but I sat through some of the ‘Bond Between Water and Tea’, and ‘Common Mistakes Investing in Tea’. But mostly spent my time wandering and chatting. I gave away a handful of art-cards as well, mostly to friends who knew I carried them. This year had some more scenic pieces.

Usually I make it to a single Festival, and that’s my Social Event for the year… I’ve endeavoured to do more, and be a little more involved (as mentioned, getting out to more tea festivals–possibly across the border). That’s also involved saying ‘yes’ to more tea social events. I was invited to and attended an opening of the hearth ceremony, made it to a few tea popups, and have some more plans for get-togethers with friends in 2024, so that’s a start. I tend to hibernate a month after every social event–that’s just how I am–so we’ll see, but one event a month is still a massive step up.

Excitingly for me, I got to be part of two different interviews related to working in the tea industry in 2022 and 2023 as well; one as part of the Tea and Herbal Association of Canada, and the other on the radio as part of a Hot Beverages Special. It was a little embarrassing, but fun.

But for this year in review: I managed to review three books, about on par with previous years. I expanded my personal library quite a bit (over ten new books, so I’ve got a lot to catch up on). And I’m currently reading Koehler’s Darjeeling, and expect to have a writeup for this sometime in February (unless I get distracted). Three books isn’t really enough of a pool to choose a ‘top pick’ from. But I definitely found Besky’s Tasting Qualities the most informative. There’s obviously a lot of overlap with the topics discussed inĀ Darjeeling, and I’ll probably explore some of that in the review.

So far, there’s not really any releases coming up for 2024 that have caught my interest. It looks like 2023 had a lot more coming out in general, but it’s still early for book announcements. I didn’t end up picking up any 2023 publications either.

I didn’t put out any special-interest posts for 2023 (I haven’t for a few years, actually), so my last goal for 2024 is to (maybe) include a few more of these. I tend to start research projects, get swept up in the hyperfocus of tracking down sources and information to answer a specific question, organize the facts, and then burn out before it comes to typing them up into a coherent post. I have half a draft of the continued Thieves of Tea World (did I seriously write that first post back in 2017), but am also currently organizing some notes on some more science and chemistry-centric topics rather than history, and one on the nature of the ‘tea books’ classification.