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San Francisco International Tea Festival

5 Things I’ve Learned at San Francisco International Tea Festival

Rick shares his thoughts after showcasing Qi Aerista at the 5th Annual SFITF 

After over 20 hours of flying from the orient and flight connections, I finally arrived in San Francisco on November 6 for the 5th Annual San Francisco International Tea Festival. It took place in Fort Mason Center, not far from the historic Golden Gate Bridge.

Along with our local partners Nikolai and Chris from Crowdtoolz, we began setting up our Qi Aerista booth at 8:30am. For the next 9 hours or so we will be standing, chatting, answering questions and of course making great tasting tea to serve our visitors almost non-stop. As first time participants, here is a list of 5 things that I’ve learned at SFITF:

1. Bay Area has a lot of tea enthusiasts.

Even before we opened the doors at 10:30am, there was already a long line-up of eager tea enthusiasts waiting outside. Throughout the day the aisles inside the exhibition hall were always jam-packed with visitors, gathering around each booth including ours to try to get a taste of what each one offers. According to the organizers, the event was sold out and almost 2000 visitors eventually came through the doors throughout the day.

Look at the line-up of Bay Area tea enthusiasts

Look at the line-up of Bay Area tea enthusiasts

Crowded aisles all day long

Crowded aisles all day long

2. Our visitors like rich, creamy and sweet milk tea.

We have set up 2 Qi Aeristas to make tea and we have brought several of our tea selection that included Phoenix Dancong, Indian black tea, Lapsong Souchong (aka Zhengshan Xiaozhong) and Hong Kong-style milk tea. When visitors came by our booth, they were usually most interested in trying out the milk tea compared with the other types we’ve made. Whenever a fresh brew of milk tea is made, they were just gone in 60 seconds. “It is gooooooooood.” is the most common comment left by our visitors after they took the first sip of the milk tea. I figure it’s the milk tea’s richness, creaminess and sweetness that impressed them the most.

Preparing black tea powder for making Hong Kong-style milk tea

Preparing black tea powder for making Hong Kong-style milk tea

3. Hong Kong-style milk tea fights jet lag pretty well.

Besides bringing a good smile to our visitors, Hong Kong-style milk tea also helped me stay energized throughout the event. There is a 10-hour time difference between Hong Kong/Shanghai and San Francisco, and it doesn’t help to have a lack of rest on my flights. So manning the booth for a full day fresh off the plane isn’t a walk in the park. Luckily I have a secret weapon: what else but Qi Aerista! I made myself a good brew of Hong Kong-style milk tea right at the very start. Its high caffeine content coupled with the added energy levels gave me the necessary mental boost that lasted all day long.

Brewing strong black tea for making Hong Kong-style milk tea

Brewing strong black tea for making Hong Kong-style milk tea

4. Be prepared when Murphy’s Law strikes.

When you gather almost 40 booths serving tea under 1 roof, you will need quite a lot of electrical power to make hot water. Unfortunately, the venue came up short in pushing enough power down the wire. So a rolling blackout was in effect throughout the day to rotate power through the booths. We would get less than 10 minutes of power every 30 minutes, barely enough for a decent brew. Quite a number of our booth’s visitors were disappointed to know we have run out of tea to serve during the waiting time.

Be ready to brew whenever power comes back on

Be ready to brew whenever power comes back on

Luckily Nikolai brought us some Christmas lights to decorate our booth, which serves as a great way to know when the power is back on. As soon as we see the lights are up, it’s time to press start on Qi Aerista to make a new brew for our eager visitors.

Nikolai and I were delighted to see Christmas lights on

Nikolai and I were delighted to see Christmas lights on

5. One day is not enough at SFITF

While we were having fun serving and chatting with our new tea loving friends, all of a sudden I noticed that the crowds started thinning out. I was enjoying so much of my time at SFITF that I didn’t realize it was already minutes away from the closing time at 5:00pm. So it was time to start packing up.

My pleasure to serve tea

My pleasure to serve tea

Overall it was a refreshing and entertaining event, and I wish it would last for 1 more day or even more to meet more friends who share our love for tea. I would love to be back again next year at SFITF, hopefully with brand new Qi Aeristas ready for visitors to take home with!

Qi Aerista, the Smart Tea Brewer

Making tea may seem easy, but making that perfect cup consistently requires some work. Let Qi Aerista help you! Qi Aerista is an app-connected smart tea brewer that lets you hot brew, strong brew and even cold brew your favorite tea to perfection every time.

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