Portland has long been a coffee mecca, but the city’s burgeoning demand for tea and kombucha made last summer’s inaugural Tea Fest PDX a smashing success: nearly 2,400 visitors sampled tea from across the globe. Last year’s scene included Oregon Koto-Kai players, tai chi and yoga demos, Victorian-era cosplay, and kimono-clad Japanese tourists. Back for year two, Tea Fest PDX is shaping up to be even bigger and better.
Tea Fest PDX will run 9:30 a.m.–6 p.m. on Saturday, July 21 at the World Forestry Center, hosting an anticipated 3,500 guests. $10 pre-sale tickets will go live on June 21. (Each ticket includes a souvenir porcelain teacup.)
Jenn Brenner, the “main engineer” behind the festival, hopes to reach tea drinkers of every walk. “It’s important to me to not have it all be a pristine, hoity-toity festival," she says. "It’s just really a celebration—a big tea party.”
Brenner entered into the wild world of tea during a Peace Corps stint in Niger. During a Moroccan afternoon tea ceremony, she sat with locals beneath a tree and drank three rounds of gunpowder green tea, an experience that still informs her vision today. “It’s our aim to make it as multicultural as possible—to celebrate the nature of where tea comes from and the cultures that grow it,” she says.
Classes on proper tea preparation will be held in the Forestry Center’s Miller Hall. Last year, classes sold out almost within the first week of the registration.
Outside, miniature teahouses, picnic tables, rugs, and cushions will set the stage for cultural tea ceremonies and traditions. Most of the 30 vendors will be inside the air-conditioned Cheatham Hall this year. Shiuwen Tai, owner of Seattle’s Floating Leaves, will vend tea and show clips of her Taiwan Tea Documentary. One of the biggest names in Portland tea will sponsor the festival with all three of its brands: Townshend’s Tea, Brew Dr. Kombucha, and Townshend’s Distillery. Other local favorites Smith, Stash, and pure Japanese matcha purveyor, Mizuba, will also return this year.
“Last year was a lovefest,” says Brenner. “I had no idea what was going to happen. I just walked around all day with a smile on my face. We hope to have more fun, amazing tea adventures this year.”