Midwest Tea Fest 2015: Part 1 – The Event!

midwestfest1The Midwest Tea Fest a was a whirlwind of fun! It had everything I could have hoped for in my first tea-centric festival, great teas, fun gadgets, big names, and excitement! I can’t thank the coordinators Alex and Nichole enough Here is my review of the festivities, quick and easy.

Getting to the venue was a bit of a challenge. One of the country’s oldest races cut right across the World War 1 museum, so find the entrance was a bit of a laugh for me, I felt like I was climbing a mountain to get to the tall spire and the bashful sphinxes that guarded the museum. I never realized just how out of shape I was until I trudged up that hill! By the time I got to the entrance, it was already 10:15. The festival started at 10 and the line was already almost to the door. With some waiting and a slight hiccup, (I had preordered my tickets, and got the Dragonwell VIP package, and was not found on ‘the list.’ I managed to get in, but now that I think about it, there was all sorts of goodies I was supposed to receive with my ticket… ah well.) I was in! There was such a mass of people, that I had to wait aside for the right moment to enter, lest I be swept away by the throngs of tea-obsessed peoples.


I managed to get inside, and immediately started taking pictures. Queen’s Pantry was the first booth, and was massively swamped the whole time, with good reason too! They were sampling their Birthday cake black tea, which was excellent. Next door was the Shang Tea booth, which was sampling their white and tangerine blossom red. I couldn’t wait to sit in their presentation about aged white tea and unglazed porcelain.




The booth next to Shang was none other than James Norwood Pratt and his wife Valerie! I had to double back from the Harney and Sons booth to say hello to them both. JNP was a little surprised at my enthusiasm, a good majority of the people in attendance were just walking past him. He had a funny laugh and was quite polite. He handed me his business card with both hands and made me promise to keep in touch. NO problem, man! Next to his booth was Pi ceramics, which had great handmade pottery. I ended up getting a lot of her wares! But that is for another post.



Harney was stuck in the corner, and strangely unattended most of the time. Across that way was Tea Market, Bingley’s and Traveling Tea. I loved Bingley’s setup, they were actually my favorite booth! They had a little Yoda and R2D2 watching over the teas and a little glass teapot.


Phoenix Herbal was next, next to Yoki, Anna Marie’s Teas (Which actually had two booths, I got a teacup candle from their second one) and London Tea Room. Yoki was another one of those booths that was always crowded, I was only able to squeeze in for about a minute before being squished out again. But they did have some great looking tea sets and matcha candies.  The London tea room had some great teas to sample as well. I really enjoyed their setup as well.


A quick jaunt to the booth just outside of the tasting cafés was Single Origin Teas. I managed to snag a sample or two before heading to the presentations. In the tasting café area as well as the presentation rooms I was able to get a more in depth look at the companies and the teas they were most proud of. It was a breath of fresh air, with a lot less people to wade through. I was able to sit in at Tealet’s tasting of Nepalese teas, which is where I met fellow tea blogger, Amanda, ‘Soggy Enderman’ Wilson! Funny enough, we were right next to each other, and a mutal Instagram friend pointed out our near identical tasting cup pictures! Just when the tea was getting good, the fire alarm went off mid tasting session! We all filed out, and waited to go back in, but not before getting one last taste out of the white tea we were drinking. Luckily, nothing was actually on fire, so it was a short wait out in the humid Kansas City air. Whoever set off the alarm, we will never know. I went to the tasting session promptly after we were allowed to go back inside, hosting by the London tea room. At that time my phone had had enough of all the frenzied photographs I was taking and promptly died. My man and I stopped for an eat to bite as well as to charge my phone. While it was regaining it’s strength, we had a great lunch of period army food, ‘chipped beef’ and ‘trench stew.’ Appetizing, ain’t it?midwest17

I had some time to kill before the last presentation, so I wandered about, and ran into Elyse and Ree ‘Tulli’ from Tealet! Shooting the breeze with the fabulous and fascinating ladies at Tealet was so much fun, I would love to work with these strong and motivated people again soon!

Finally the time came, the main event was upon us! I had a friend secure us a good seat to listen to James Norwood Pratt’s thoughts on tea. He was a hit, making the easy crowd laugh and describing the intricacies of processing tea. It was a great end to a fabulous event. I had a great time, and I would not hesitate to go again next year. Next stop, Rocky Mountain Tea Fest!

Bonus points for making it through this post: I was on KC TV (channel 41) right before going to the fest! Watch me stumble over my words here.

Kaporet Kenya Black Tea from Single Origin Teas

kenyakaporetTea Information:

Leaf Type:  Black

Where to Buy:  Single Origin Teas

Tea Description:

While Kenyan teas are lesser known, they are quite popular.  The majority of tea bag tea actually comes from the flat growing areas of Kenya:  in a recent UN food estimate (see below), the country’s tea production represented around 13% of the world’s supply.  However, it is rare to find a non-CTC tea.  CTC, otherwise known as Crush Tear Curl, is the production method used for turning tea leaves into tea dust, for more rapid brewing in tea bags.  Kenya Kaporet is rare in that orthodox production methods are employed, allowing for a more distinct flavor than a standard tea bag will offer.

Kenya Kaporet produces a bold, robust malty flavor often associate with black teas.  It brews quite strong, and can handle milk well.

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review:

I know I’ve probably said this before, but, the more I try teas from Kenya, the more I’m loving them!   This Kaporet Keyna Black Tea from Single Origin Teas is so rich and flavorful!

I am in complete agreement with the last paragraph in the above description, this tea is indeed bold and robust, with a delightful malty tone.  It does brew strong!  I tend to usually add a little extra leaf when I brew teas because I like a good, strong flavor, but that wasn’t necessary with this tea, because it brewed up strong and full-flavored without the 1/2 teaspoon or so of extra leaf!

And while I believe this tea would stand up well with the addition of milk, I am liking it served straight up with no additions.  It has a powerful flavor – the kind of tea with which I like to start the day because it has that GUSTO I look for in a morning black tea.  It’s invigorating, but, it also has a gentle smoothness to it that nudges you awake rather than rudely screams in your face.  It’s the nice way to wake up!

In the distance, I taste notes of fruit.  A little further off, I taste faint hints of flower.  There is some sweetness to the cup from these two characteristics, but, most of the sweetness I taste is a burnt-sugar caramel sweetness that melds with the malty notes really well.

There is that chewy, freshly baked, bread-y type of flavor that I enjoy – vaguely reminiscent of a high quality Assam tea, but without the bitterness that is often associated with Assam.  There is a savory quality to this tea as well, and this savory note hits the palate at about mid-sip, just as you’re nearing the finish.  This isn’t an overly astringent cuppa, but, there is some dry astringency toward the tail.

Overall, an excellent black tea from Kenya.

Juicy Peach from Teajo Teas

Tea Information:

Leaf Type:  Single Origin Indian Black Tea

Where to Buy:  Teajo Teas

Tea Description:

A delicious black tea made with whole leaf black tea and infused with natural peach flavor! This refreshing tea is great hot or on ice.Tea Type/Origin
The black tea in this blend is single estate and originates from a garden in Northern India known for producing full-bodied tea.
Full leaf black tea, natural peach flavor, rose petals, rose hips and tea flowers.
Brew 1 teaspoon loose tea in hot water (180 – 212˚F) for 3 minutes.

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review:

While I would not call this the peachiest tea I have ever had, nor the most complex, it is one of those teas that is well suited for anyone from a person who has never had tea before to the most avid tea lover.

You can get about three solid infusions out of one teaspoon which is nice. The peach flavor is very natural and no cloying sweeteners are added. The rose petals and rose hips make a pretty presence in this tea and make it lovely to look at.

A nice base tea is good, and organically grown which is absolutely a plus in my book. Some information taken from the Teajo Teas website states:

“Our teas meet strict global residue standards and are organically grown without the use of harmful chemicals or pesticides. In addition, we make every attempt to recycle and reuse as much of our shipping materials as possible. We also ask that our customers join us in helping our environment by reusing or recycling the packaging materials that come with our teas.”

I like this statement!

No, this is not a knock it out of the park flavored tea but I tell you what, the past several days I have not felt up to par and a lot of my favorite teas have not been settling well with me. I kept finding myself reaching for just two teas during this time. This is one of them.

Its a solid peach flavored tea that is very natural in its flavoring and has just a tiny slightly bit of a floral flavor. No flavor is fighting with any other to grandstand, yet meld wonderfully into one easy and mellow blend.

This is for sure one of those teas to keep in your stash for company, for yourself, for people you want to introduce to a good tea, but not one that is terribly complex or overwhelming.

Its great iced, cold steeped, hot, straight, with sweetener, even some milk or cream could be added, its just a stand up quality tea.

I am calling it my “feel good” tea because when I am not up to par the last thing I feel like doing is studying flavor notes, aromas, and complexities in a tea. Granted I also don’t want something dull either. This tea from Teajo Tea was, and will in the future, be my go to cup for when I am feeling less than stellar. And you know what? I am feeling fine today and still enjoying a cup of this Juicy Peach tea from Teajo Teas!