|Floating Leaves booth, photo by Andrew Goodman|
|Charaku Tea, photo by Tatsuo|
We hit a bump in the road before the festival even started. Tatsuo, whom I have known for years, said he couldn't make it to the festival. I have come to admire his work ethic and how he always tries to help his friends. I knew something big must have happened for him to be unable to attend. I told him that it's OK and I would represent his tea at the festival. That's what friends are for, right? I am glad I did that.
With my busy schedule lately, I found that it was challenging to prepare for the tea festival. Stress started to build. I am very fortunate to have received a lot of help and support from my friend and helper, Noah. Both of us would stay late into the night at the shop packing tea to make sure we had enough tea to bring to the festival. Noah also held down the fort at Floating Leaves while I attended to my tea booth at the festival.
On Friday, the day for setting up the booth, I was not sure how I could finish setting everything up with my busy schedule working in the shop, picking up my son, and then taking him to soccer practice. Thankfully, my tea festival helper Pat carried a car load of things to the festival location and then helped me to set up in the afternoon. A lot was accomplished because I had so much help! My tea friend Eric from Saint Louis volunteered to help, Tatsuo showed up to help, and my dear tea friend and collegue Jeannie from Miro Tea even lent me one of her staff, Anton, to help while I took my son to soccer!
|Miro Tea booth, photo by Jeannie Liu|
The next morning, Pat and I showed up early to get the booth set up. The moment I saw the booth, I was close to tears. Tatsuo, Anton, and Eric had organized and set up the booth and they were going above and beyond to help. My whole being was filled with gratitude and it is a fantastic feeling. Before the festival opened to the public, some of my tea friends and collegues came by and asked me how I was doing. Laurie of Charles of Whatcom Tea Enthusiasts Association came by to give us some delicious homemade cookies. They had a tea bar right across from my tea booth. For the whole weekend, I saw them brewing tea and sharing their knowledge with tea lovers. Respect! If you live in the Belligham area, make sure you check out their monthly tea meetings at Whatcom Tea.
|Charles and Laurie at the Tea Bar, photo by Jake Knapp|
Then the "festival doors" opened and a lot of people streamed through! I realized I was super energetic the whole day. I was fueled by so many tea lovers visiting our booth and my friends' support! My long time tea friends, Jason, Andrew, and the amazing baker Yana from Smacha came by to give us some baked goods and told us we had to eat. Cinnabar and Christopher from Phoenix Tea, Julee and Doug from Perennial Tea Room, and Jeannie from Miro Tea all stopped by and showered us with their kindness and asked if we were doing alright.
|Jason of Smacha, photo by Andrew Goodman|
|Yana bakes delicious baked goods!|
My helper, Pat, remained calm and brewed tea and talked all day long. He is a real trooper and his energy is great for balancing out my hyper energy. During the afternoon, there were many moments where we just didn't have enough hands to serve everyone in the crowd. I met a tea lover who visited my booth and begged her for help. She stayed for a couple of hours to help to brew tea, and before she left, she made sure that all of the pots were filled with tea. Wow! I am so lucky to meet all kinds of amazing and kind people that day.
|Pat is a trooper, photo by Jake Knapp|
|Dana, the amazing, generous tea lover!|
I went back to the shop that evening and packed more tea with Noah. I thought I would be very tired that evening, but I was somehow loaded with energy. I look back on that day and realize I hardly got a chance to drink tea. I was not wired with caffeine, but was filled with the amount of fellow tea lover's energy and all my friends' kindness.
The next day, I had one more helper, Sara, who was great and dedicated. She is as calm as Pat!
My friend, Jake of Cloud 9 Photography, showed up early to volunteer at my booth. We had an Oolong process presentation that day. Many thanks go to Jake for getting all of the tea photos ready and for making sure the projector worked properly - our talk went very smoothly.
I also want to recognize the team of volunteers at the festival. They were organized, worked very hard and were super funny! Thank you!!
Lastly, I want to thank my friends, Melissa and Todd, for taking care of my son so that I could focus on attending my booth.
While I am writing this, I realize how truly lucky I am. I love this tea business and the best is this great tea community. I feel so loved by my customers, tea friends, and collegues. You guys are the best! Thank you!