In a city that boasts plenty of festivals, this weekend offers something a little different — the second annual Ottawa Tea Festival.
Creator Kimiko Uriu is the owner of local tea company Kimicha Tea, and the founder of the Ottawa Tea Festival.
Having travelled to popular and remote tea regions all over the world, Uriu founded the festival last year as a way of sharing her extensive tea knowledge and tapping into a growing North American trend.
“There are a lot of fun things that you learn about each tea region when you travel there,” she says.
To say Uriu knows a lot about tea would be an understatement. She is a Certified Tea Specialist and has worked for one of the largest Japanese tea companies, gaining experience and knowledge of every aspect of tea production.
Uriu also teaches a Tea Sommelier course at Algonquin College, where she tells students about different regions, how tea grows and does food pairings and tea tastings.
Last year, Kimicha Tea submitted a black tea in the North American Tea Championship, the only professionally judged tea competition, and won.
With the Ottawa Tea Festival, Uriu is not only hoping to share tea culture with others, she also wants to give back to tea producing regions in need, supporting a different charity every year.
After last year’s devastating earthquake and tsunami in Japan, a country known for its cultural association with tea, Uriu donated a portion of the festival’s proceeds to Japanese children in need.
This year, she will donate funds to the Asha for Education Canada — a charity that raises money for education in India.
The festival includes sampling, a traditional Japanese tea ceremony, musical and dance performances and expert presentations. There will also be plenty of local artisanal food producers on hand to offer foodies all sorts of treats.
Last year, the Ottawa Tea Festival attracted over 600 people. This year, Uriu is anticipating even bigger numbers.
She says North Americans really seem to be getting into tea, especially the more expensive, loose-leaf brands.
“I think it’s gaining in popularity. There is a trend towards better teas, people are learning about teas. I think, when people start learning more, they start enjoying tea more.”
The Ottawa Tea Festival
• When. Saturday, from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.
• Where. Ottawa Convention Centre (55 Colonel By Dr.)
• Price. $15
• Visit. ottawateafestival.com