Chocolate, tea a perfect pairing for Chicago fest
By Elisa Shoenberger
Ever wondered if Earl Grey tea should be paired with milk or dark chocolate? Or how to make a cocktail infused with matcha or other green teas? These are two of many lectures set for the Chicago’s International Tea Festival.
Taking place Nov. 1-3 at Holiday Inn Mart Plaza, 350 W. Mart Center Dr., the festival will bring 35-40 vendors from around the world, including vendors from Nepal, Japan, and Sri Lanka, as well as local tea vendors. Tickets start at $25 for a one-day consumer pass.
The show will be Chicago’s first tea festival, started by Festival Director Nicole Burriss and six founding board members.
Burriss, a Kansas City structural engineer, was inspired by the Northwest Tea Festival in Seattle, now entering its 11th year. She created the Midwest Tea Festival in Kansas City five years ago.
“We tried to convince Nicole to come here and organize a festival because Chicago is such a diverse city,” said Agnes Rapacz, President of TeaGschwendner and a founding board member. “We believed this location would be successful for the tea festival.”
Burriss agreed to run the fest as long as she got help.
The tea festival is open to both consumers and people in the trade. The first day is meant for people in the tea trade, though dedicated tea fans can come, and the second two days will be open to everyone.
For the price of admission, people will get a ceramic tea cup and a tote bag and will be able to taste teas from the many vendors. Burriss said people could try up to 100 teas.
It’s also a great place to deepen knowledge about tea. People can attend more than 80 lectures or classes for an extra fee. Classes will include “Tea & Chocolate” by Sheila Duda and “Tea Cocktails” by Rapacz. There will also be a free lecture room and people can talk to the vendors.
For the “Tea Cocktails” lecture, attendees will taste cocktails and learn how to mix alcoholic drinks with tea. TeaGschwendner has also hosted chocolate and tea pairings. Rapacz recommended pairing chocolate with an opposite kind of tea, like dark chocolate and white tea, or complementary flavors such as pairing a pumpkin spice truffle with chai tea.