Coffee & Tea Festival: NYC 2019

Coffee & Tea Festival: NYC 2019

This past weekend I made the trek out to Brooklyn for the annual Coffee & Tea Festival NYC. It had been a few years since I’ve been able to attend due to work obligations. This is their 14th year and I went to my very first festival in 2009. Back then it was a much smaller production, held in a Manhattan art gallery instead of a large expo center.

New vendor Teapasar provided adorable clay cups for everyone in an effort to reduce waste. Most other festivals around the country do this so I was happy to see this change. I do think the rinsing stations at the ends of each aisle were a mistake though. They quickly became water hazards, making the floors quite slippery.

clay cup printed with "Hey There Hot-Tea!"

The Seminars

Train issues had me running late but thankfully my Uber pulled up just in time for the Introduction to Professional Cupping seminar led by Suzette of Being Tea. The cost of this class was $25 but it was definitely worth it since the price includes a tasting cup set. It was a lot of fun to nerd out with the other people who took the class. We cupped two different flights of teas. One focused on Nepalese teas produced over the course of the year and the other highlighted oxidation and roast in rolled oolongs.

The second seminar that I took, Baozhong: In-Depth Tea Exploration & Cupping, was led by Sammy of Everlasting Teas. Baozhong isn’t my favorite but the aged teas comparison was very intriguing. There were a lot of technical difficulties but it was still a great experience thanks to Sammy’s boundless energy and passion for tea. He was also kind enough to give us all with tea. I got a box of 1985 Baozhong that I very much looking forward to drinking.

Comparing five different Baozhong oolongs

The Booths

The crowds were really packed in, as they usually are at this event. At times it was hard to even get to the booths and it was next to impossible to hold a conversation with anyone. This is the one big downfall of this festival for me. It just feels so very un-tea, you what I mean?

There were a lot more food vendors than I had seen in years past. Food is great but it’s not why I came. Just a few choices would have been more than enough. I didn’t have time to eat lunch so I munched on a tasty empanada from Jessy’s Pastries, a regular fixture here, in between making the rounds.

The ratio of tea to coffee vendors was much more biased in my favor this year. A majority of the booths focused on blends and flavored teas. I heard some complaints about there not being enough “serious” tea companies. I get that but it is important to keep in mind that the crowd here is very diverse. Most of them are not going to be looking for gushu puerh or high-end yancha.

There were quite a lot of booths that had nothing to do with either beverage though. That is a big pet peeve of mine. Does Verizon FIOS being there mean that an awesome independent company didn’t get a spot? I can’t say for sure but I can tell you that I don’t visit booths from these kinds of companies.

Mansa Tea was one of the only companies serving puerh.
Oolongs steeping at Teapasar
Harney & Sons showing off their iconic tins. I was pleasantly surprised to see them because they were not on the vendor list.
Matcha was a big part of Live Vessel’s set up this year
Ippodo is one of the booths I always make sure that I visit

Silver Needle Tea Co. definitely had one of the prettiest setups. I love their teas and the founder, Lucy, always take thes time to say hello even when they are super busy.

The Haul

I try not to buy too much when I go to an event like this because I already have so much tea. I did treat myself to a few different finds this year and one old favorite. I’ll be sure to write separate articles for some these when I can.

Laphet, pickled tea leaves from Myanmar! The samples I tried at Cultured Tea Leaf were tasty.
I need another chawan like I need a hole in the head…but I really felt drawn to this pretty turquoise bowl from Live Vessel.
I also bought an itty bitty chasen and folding chashaku from them.
Everlasting Teas Experimental Black is one of my absolute favorite teas. I had to restock as I have been out of it for a while.
Winky Lux was there selling their tea related cosmetics. I grabbed a vegan matcha lip balm.

Overall I’m glad that I was able to attend. I was definitely missing my fellow local tea bloggers as we weren’t able to meet up this time around. The seminars really made the day worth it for me, in addition to all of my shopping finds. Next year I am thinking about submitting a seminar of my own but I haven’t been able to decide on a topic just yet.

Did you go to the festival? What did you think? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below!

Disclaimer: I received a press pass from the event organizers. Tickets for seminars was paid for with advertising revenue from this blog.

Nicole has been writing about her love of the leaf since 2008. Her work has been featured on World Tea News, The Daily Tea, Tea Journey, and other publications. She is the winner of the 2018 World Tea Award for Best Tea Blog.