Tea. Festival. That’s right, a festival dedicated to the great and glorious tea. I’m a huge fan of tea, which is disgustingly English of me. However, I don’t care. I just love it. So imagine my joy and disbelief when a Japanese friend of mine posts that he is attending a tea festival at the convention centre. Only 10 minutes from where I live? And that it was free? With the chance to sample all the different teas available, also free? I don’t think I’ve ever gotten myself ready so quickly.
A matcha display at the festival.
The festival was held at Okinawa Convention Centre in Ginowan (central Okinawa), over a Saturday and Sunday in the later part of September 2016. Lupicia were the ones behind this most wonderful of events; they’re a Japanese company selling high quality tea. Luckily for me, they have a permanent shop at a mall close to me, so I can get my fix whenever. Not only was the festival completely tea-centric, everything came at a discounted price. Because I turned up unprepared, it being last minute and all, I didn’t take any cash (the only accepted payment method). I remedied this though with a visit to the nearest ATM.
Inside the convention centre.
So what can you expect to see at a tea festival? Obviously, a lot of tea. The variety was eye watering; they had herbal teas, fruit teas, teas from other parts of Asia (India for example), hot teas, cold teas, matcha (one of my favourite types of tea), milk tea, British tea, and so much more. There was also paraphernalia, such as beautiful cast iron pots, clever diffusers, and jugs for preserving and serving cold varieties. All of this was excellent, and I very much enjoyed sampling virtually every variety (no seriously, I did). The thing that really got me though was the tea-infused food. They had tea honey, and tea jam. Oh yes. I think I shed a little tear at this discovery, before buying myself a pot of sakura tea honey, earl grey tea jam, and then two other honey types for my parents and sister (rose hip and Darjeeling). Whilst it was discounted, it was still a little on the pricey side, so sadly I didn’t buy any actual tea. I could’ve spent literally all my wages and savings there, but I’m an adult with bills to pay and a car to run (plus a cat to feed), so I exercised some self control.
Tea-infused honey and jam.
Aside from all the goodies to buy and teas to taste, there was also entertainment. A little stage was set up at one end of the large hall, and featured a few interesting acts. The first one I saw was of an elegant woman in a beautiful kimono dancing with a large, golden tea pot. It was mesmerising and enjoyable. The other was two men, also clad in kinomo, playing the sanshin (a traditional Okinawan instrument made using habu snake skin. It sort of looks like a banjo). They had a little twist on the traditional, relaxed style of playing, strumming away as if they were playing electric guitars, and prancing around as if they were rock stars. They were talented and funny; a real crowd pleaser.
I hope this is a yearly thing. Until then, you’ll find me fawning over the tea in their shop.
Cast iron kettles.