I am a self confessed tea addict, in fact I have an entire cupboard dedicated to my collection! Therefore when I discovered there was a new food event to celebrate National Tea Day I immediately bought tickets for myself and fellow tea-lover Claire from The Curious Explorers to attend the inaugural Fes-Tea-Val!
Located on the stunning grounds of Chiswick House and Gardens for a full weekend, Fes-Tea-Val did not disappoint in bringing a classic British pastime to life! Built in the 17th Century by the third Earl of Burlington, Chiswick House has been visited by a series of prominent guests including Queen Victoria, Handel and is even the location of The Beatles music video for Paperback Writer!
The festival was considerably larger than I expected and celebrated all things tea, although not exclusively. A programme of tea masterclasses, historical displays, live music, demonstrations and wellness activities were available to enjoy. We realised you had to book certain masterclasses in advance, but ended up being so distracted by constant discoveries that we missed all except one of them!
Luckily, the masterclass we were able to attend was the Hope & Glory tea cocktail class! I have tried various tea flavoured Gin’s before, but I had never thought to use different tea flavours to make tea syrups for fun cocktails! I was delighted to try an Earl Grey Margarita and English Breakfast Tea Cocktail – literally a G & Tea! The best thing is all of the recipes are available on their website – Hope & Glory Tea Cocktails.
As well as the masterclasses & live music, there were an abundance of stalls so we could try a plethora of teas from around the world and in different formats! I really liked the teas from Hope & Glory, which are available in teabags or loose-leaf (I ended up bringing some home!), the flavoured fruit teas from bit Natural and chai available from several stands.
I was also intrigued by T-sticks which are a convenient product to brew leaf tea by using the actual stick (instead of a bag) to evenly infuse in a cup through the mirco perforations with less bitterness! They are available in a range of teas and also some coffee variations. They look great for travelling and I picked up a few to try!
Alongside all the teas there was lots of other foods and drinks to sample! I was thrilled to see Nonya Secrets curry sauces again as they create flavoursome and authentic curries at home! I also picked up a healthier chilli & garlic rapeseed oil from Mr. Hugh’s Oils which I think will be delicious in stir-frys & salad dressings. There was a great selection of cheeses from a few stands to try and I also picked up some energy balls from The Bondi Kitchen which should help me fight off naughty snacking at work!
There were also some unique food stands which really stood out. One was Cricke who are trying to encourage people to try cricket based products, like cricket fusili or crackers as a naturally sustainable and nutritionally balance protein source (double that of beef!). The other stand I was delighted to find was Lost Tea Company who have begun bringing fermented tea salad from Myanmar to the UK. I fell in love with laphet (fermented tea leaf salad) when I was in Myanmar a few years ago and was thrilled to see Burmese cuisine options on the rise in the UK.
Apart from tea, one of my other favourite drinks is Gin! I was extremely happy to sip a few new gins. I recently discovered Masons Yorkshire Gin and after trying their Lavender variety I couldn’t resist adding it to my collection, along with miniature versions of their original and Yorkshire tea infused gin! I also discovered Jindea Gin which is a citrus led gin infused with single estate First Flush Darjeeling tea.
After exploring roughly half of the festival we decided a lunch break in the glorious sunshine was required and we opted for amazing vegan burgers from The Green Grill. I am not vegan (Claire is though), but I really enjoy trying vegetarian & vegan options. I choose the Goldzilla burger, a vibrant turmeric bun with a quinoa, lentil patty, onions, peppers and a smokey BBQ sauce. It was £7 for the burger or you could get a meal deal with nachos for £10.50. It was utterly delicious, although messy – this may just be me though!
The event was extremely family orientated with several teas on offer designed specifically for children (I know a few little ones who will love this!) and a play area with giant games for them to enjoy. It really was an event for all ages and the whole family.
Fes-Tea-Val was an absolutely fantastic addition to the food and drink festivals we are lucky to have in London and I am extremely hopeful that the event continues next year. It was such a fun day and I came away with so many wonderful products and new knowledge about tea! If you are a tea lover do not miss this next year! Would you love to attend?
Nearest Train: Chiswick Overground/Turnham Green Tube
Date: April 2018