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Taking the X out of Texas

Driving the Freeway in Texas one evening, my eyes were drawn to a huge well-lit sign flashing TE AS. Wow! Maybe there's a tea shop in that mall, but why the space between E and A? Another mile and I let out a hoot to see the same sign flashing TEXAS! Of course! I was in Texas - Alamo Country, cowboy movies, cacti and huge oaks. Tea here is sweet and iced. Texas is not my kind of tea country!

[caption id="attachment_1987" align="aligncenter" width="720"]Off to the Tea Festival Off to the Tea Festival with Jane-Alice[/caption]

So imagine my daughter Jane-Alice's and my surprise to find we could get tickets to the first Annual Texas Tea Festival in Austin, a mere hour and a half away on Sunday Feb. 8 and imagine our surprise to be in a lineup of 500+ tea devotees going to Saengerrunde Historic Hall for the event! People who had not purchased in advance were turned away. Behind us was a gal, Judy, who is part of a ladies' tea club in Austin. Once a month they get together to taste different teas and have a social time - kinda like a book club. This idea has been on my to-do list for years and right now it has been moved to the top of that list. Anyone in Charlottetown area wish to join me?

[caption id="attachment_1980" align="aligncenter" width="569"]Welcome to the Texas Tea Festival Welcome to the Texas Tea Festival[/caption]

Upon signing in, we were given a small porcelain sampling cup to take along the aisles of vendors. I'm sure we sipped about a litre of tea each over the 5 hours in between wonderful seminars from very knowledgeable tea experts. We sipped rare green puerhs, delicate whites, oolongs and fruity blends.

In his seminar, Jason of the Great Mississipi Tea Company says he should be putting out his first crop in the spring of 2017. He has been several years now investing scientific research, money and time into creating a new tea plantation. It was fascinating and only an ardent tea entrepreneur could have the patience!

Emeric Harney, grandson of the late John Harney of Harney and Sons Fine Teas is a young and enthusiastic explorer of teas around the world. I loved his energizing talk. He does his grandfather proud carrying on in the family business.

[caption id="attachment_1984" align="aligncenter" width="480"]Emeric Harney - lots of young guys into tea these days! Emeric Harney - lots of young guys into tea these days![/caption]

James Norwood Pratt, perhaps America's most prolific tea author and speaker, shared his tea experiences in a delightfully charismatic way. I have heard him speak before and own one of his books, The Tea Dictionary, which I peruse almost daily.

[caption id="attachment_1982" align="aligncenter" width="480"]James Norwood Pratt James Norwood Pratt[/caption]

I was pleased to see Devan Shah from International Tea Importers. I toured his facility in California a few years ago. He is a prominent figure in the realm of teas and so gracious as most tea folks are!

[caption id="attachment_1983" align="aligncenter" width="480"]Devan Shah - such a busy tea guy Devan Shah - such an innovative tea expert[/caption]

We sat in on the East Frisian Tea Ceremony (German origin). Almost like a shot of espresso, a very strong black brew was poured over a glassy cube of sugar and then a teaspoon of cream was dropped in to give a bit of an explosion effect. Yum! We asked for seconds!

[caption id="attachment_1981" align="aligncenter" width="640"]The East Fresian Cuppa The East Frisian Cuppa[/caption]

Our tea day had come to an end and what a day it was! Having Jane-Alice with me and seeing how fascinated she was with her mom's passion was truly rewarding! I dare say she is a follower.

Heading to the car, we passed a German pub so decided to grab a bite and a different kind of brew!! Cheers everyone!

[caption id="attachment_1985" align="aligncenter" width="480"]Cheers! Cheers from Texas![/caption]

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