The beautiful provincial capital hosts its third annual tea festival next weekend, February 14 and 15, at the Crystal Garden exhibition hall from noon to 5 p.m.
The largest public tea exhibition in North America features tea tastings, tea-food selections, lectures and the chance to shop for hundreds of teas, tea-related products, and tea wares.
A few of the lectures include "Hosting the Perfect Tea Party," "Rooibos � Good for You, Good for Africa," "Yerba Mate � Equal Parts Health, Culture & Ecology," and "History of Tea at the Empress."
The latter will bring a smile to anyone who has ever experienced the tradition at Victoria's grand hotel.
If you can't make the gathering, here are some tea-tasting sips from the organizers to try at home:
* Note how the flavors may differ depending upon origin, soil type, style of tea, processing techniques, and preparation time.
* Try focusing first on the basic differences between black, oolong, green, white and herbal teas.
* Try tasting similar teas, from different companies, prepared slightly different or served at different temperatures.
* Inquire about temperature, how the tea is served, storage of the tea, and its health benefits. (I'll have to ask my wife about those …).
I've been a tea drinker for years About a decade ago, my wife read an article about its curative properties, and declared we were switching morning beverages.
As long as I got caffeine, I really didn't care about the source. But a few months later, I discovered she was sneaking coffee on the side. I stuck with the tea program, however, and have been sipping ever since.
My favorite blend: Lipton Yellow Label Tea. It looks like what you'd find for sale at the local supermarket, but Lipton markets a stronger blend for the non-U.S. market. I get mine at Indian groceries. Cost: about 4 cents a bag.
But if I really wanted to branch out, Victoria would be the place to visit