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“Spill the Tea” – 2020 Toronto Tea Festival; a vendors Point of View

2020 was our third time participating at the Toronto Tea Festival. We like to recap this event for our own benefit and that of our readers. Maybe you have already read a few recaps of this years’ event? Well this one is a bit different…. read on for a behind the scenes perspective of what goes into planning and preparing for this annual event on behalf of Tea Rebellion.

Tea Festivals in general take a lot of preparation. There is the strategic planning beforehand, the packaging of teas, samples and the displays and then the set up and tear down. And that is all on top of the day(s) that vendors are actually exhibiting. Many weeks before the Festival, we started to think about the following questions:

  1. What experience do we want visitors to have?
  2. Do we want to present/ hold a round table discussion?
  3. Which teas shall we showcase?
  4. How much stock should we take?
  5. How will we man the booth?

    Ok lets take them one by one:
  1. What experience do we want tea lovers to have: How do we make sure our visitors have an amazing experience? We want to offer a distinct experience, help to discover taste and convey that we are here to make a difference for growers and tea lovers. Having hot freshly brewed tea ready to taste and enough knowledgable brand ambassadors around to answer questions is key to meet our goal here.
  2. Do we want Tea Rebellion to present/hold a round table discussion: Committing time to help educate and share knowledge is amazing at these events but it does pull needed individuals out of the operations. It’s all a question of how sizeable and experienced your team is and how much relevant expertise one can share for the audience at this Festival. Maybe there is a way to hold briefer topical talks at ones stand? We will explore that for next year…
  3. Which teas shall we showcase: Participating int the Tea Tasters Box competition helps greatly. This year, Tea Rebellion won a total of 7 prizes, two category winners. This helps with the decision of what to brew as visitors want to taste the teas that won the prizes! Ok this part was quite straight forward this year!
  4. How much stock should we bring: In our particular case we had to put new orders in for almost all of the teas that won at the festival as we were all out. The advantage of being based in Toronto is that we can prepare a lot of stock and then only bring it in on the 2nd day… Clearly this strategy does not work if you are doing a festival in another location.
  5. How will we man the booth: This is a big one. We have created a sign up and asked friends of Tea Rebellion and loyal customers if they would like to be a brand ambassador for the day. Its a great way to get a front of the line experience and really live and breathe what Tea Rebellion is all about.

We got lucky with our amazing helpers this year so that we could walk along, taste and mingle for a bit. Its amazing to see that there has been some fluctuation in participation, some people have stayed away, many returned and some new vendors joined.

All in all the 2020 Toronto Tea Festival was, as every year, a great celebration of everything tea. We are grateful for meeting so many new tea lovers, connecting again with friends and having an awesome two day event. Thank you to the organizers and sponsors, to our amazing helpers and all the tea lovers who make this event a success. Enjoy your tea hauls!

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About the author: Annabel Kalmar founded Tea Rebellion to change the way tea is traded and to connect tea drinkers with tea farmers. She noted that consumers care deeply about the origin of their coffee, but are still in the dark when it comes to their tea. She developed a passion for improving farmers’ market access and incomes while studying agriculture and working in the fields of El Salvador and St. Lucia, harvesting coffee and interviewing farmers. She founded Tea Rebellion to change how tea is traded, marketed and consumed.

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