Tea Enthusiasts in Greater Toronto Area

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Noonie
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Thu Jul 18, 2019 6:15 am

I have wanted to start a “Meetup.com” group for tea enthusiasts in and around Toronto but I’m worried that I’ll get people joining the group who are not passionate about tea. I’ve heard (maybe falsely) that some people join meetup groups solely for the social aspects and may not be very interested in the underlying topic. I’m not looking to sit around for two hours gabbing about spouses, kids and jobs...I want to drink and talk tea!

If anyone here is interested and lives in or around Toronto let me know. I’m happy to organize, though I’ve never done something like this. FYI I’m in Georgetown (45 min northwest of Toronto).
John_B
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Fri Jul 19, 2019 1:44 am

I'm not near Toronto, close enough to on the opposite side of the world, but I can pass on some related experiences.

I've held two open tasting events where I live, in Bangkok, with a limited number of people turning out for both (around a half dozen). Since I write a tea blog I've covered "lessons learned" in posts but it gets old blog spamming people, so I'll leave that part out.

People attending to talk about themselves or daily life wasn't an issue. Limited attendance wasn't either, but a half dozen is getting down there; a few less show up and then it's an overly intimate setting.

Purpose or intention is part of it; I wanted to share tea experience with people not already on that page. It sounds like you'd like to reach out to people already started into it.

Using Meet-ups may be problematic because you might find people joining any number of groups there on a whim but then not attending events. I've not been active in drawing on that type of lead here but to the extent I've looked into those groups (here) they seem to have hundreds of members and hold events that under 10 people attend, probably related to a core group having more interest.

Facebook is an easy alternative, of pairing both might work. Erring on the other side and having 20 people attend a tea event could bring up logistical challenges. One person making tea for 6-8 people is easy enough, for up to 10 or so is more problematic, and 15 or beyond would need to take a different form. The obvious fix is to use sign-ups; that might well work.

Since messing around online is normal enough for me I checked a Facebook group I'm an admin for and only the Tea Festival there turns up related to Toronto and tea. If there had been a local FB interest group that could short-cut identifying people with a similar interest.

It's hard to get a half-dozen people who have never met together and keep the subject clear of personal introductions as a main discussion theme. You might consider a format that helps with that if it's really an important goal (eg. a themed, staged tasting, guided to include discussion of tea aspects by round). Alternatively, holding a first event as a more unstructured theme and letting the chat could serve as a lead-in to shifting format at another once they've met.
Noonie
Posts: 152
Joined: Tue Dec 12, 2017 12:30 pm
Location: Canada

Fri Jul 19, 2019 6:44 am

Thanks @John_B for the tips.

I’m familiar with the Toronto Tea Festival but haven’t been able to attend due to other commitments. This year (early 2020) I’m planning to go!’ Meeting some like minded folks there would be ideal.
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Victoria
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Fri Jul 19, 2019 9:51 am

Tea festivals are a good way to meet other serious tea drinkers. We started the Los Angeles Tea Society after a few of us meet at a Los Angeles Tea Festival and then again at a TeaHabitat tasting. Those were tea pollinating events. We started a Facebook closed group, use FB Messenger to coordinate get togethers, and when we meet we limit attendance to a maximum of 8. More than 8 can get chatty and more challenging to focus on the tea being sampled. We did do a larger tasting (+-14) at the Aikido Center, which was a very nice coming together of tea and martial arts. Refocusing on the tea being tasted just gets more critical with increasingly larger groups. Sharing tea is very special each time we get together. Hope you find a few like minded people in your area. A first step is asking another person if they’d like to get together to get the ball rolling.
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pedant
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Fri Jul 19, 2019 12:27 pm

i think @Shine Magical was telling me that a tea club he's in in NYC uses some site like “Meetup.com” to charge a small fee ($5 or $10) just to make attendance a little more serious so people don't RSPV in the affirmative and then bail.
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Victoria
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Fri Jul 19, 2019 1:04 pm

Or a penalty fee for bailing :) . Haven’t tried that yet.
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debunix
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Sat Jul 20, 2019 9:27 am

It is important when setting up a tasting to have very clear directions. I tried to get to one in the LA area and got to the general location but couldn't find the actual site, and was stuck, so drove home without attending. The person who knows the site well needs to think about the directions they would give to someone unfamiliar with the area, with local landmarks (the biggest store in the shopping center is a Walgreens and the meeting room is behind the realtor's office which has a very small sign), remembering that Google Maps always sends you to a spot where the left turn is actually illegal, or that there are three exits with similar names when you are coming from the east and you take the 2rd one, exit 23B and not 14, that parking is easiest 2 blocks away or that you actually want this exit and not that one from the Metro station with 6 exits, and provide a phone number that will be answered (exchanging phone numbers so that it's not ignored as a spam call) for someone who still needs a bit of help.
John_B
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Sun Jul 21, 2019 2:38 am

That last post seemed like enough but I might ramble more about themes here.

I attended a version set up as more of a formal tasting once (oddly only once; these events aren't my thing), and there are pros and cons to that. If feels a little like a class, even more so than ceremonial. If the idea is to do a tight-themed tasting session, as that one was entirely related to teas from a single village spanning tea ages, more formal is probably going to work better. General intro really appeals to me, and keeping format social.

A vendor here held an event designed along the lines of a cupping session once; that was interesting. Another did a more social, mixed-theme, multiple tea version type once back towards a more relaxed and social context.

Oddly before I was even into tea and did those other tastings I experienced the most formal, ceremonial Gong Fu Cha setting I've yet to encounter, set up as a cultural experience display by Huawei when I was visiting Shenzhen on business. The preparer was even wearing the traditional silk clothing, explaining the meaning of the steps, and tea pets, and so on. It's a little odd that didn't hook me to explore those themes further later, but it did help expand interest in tea.

On a completely different subject, I have the impression that not charging participants for tea shifts their expectations quite a bit, and that interest in attendance might well be greater if charging for the event. Why that is should be clear enough; it could imply the difference between a person having strangers over in the more standard role of friends to try tea, versus a more professionally inclined host providing a more standard service offering. People are funny that way, right? Just spinning the theme a bit one way or another could shift expectations and interest quite a bit.

I've not done as much with it as I could but just having a clearer theme might help. It has been appealing to me to share a broad range of types in a session to serve an introductory function, even though for experienced tea drinkers that wouldn't make as much sense as a much more narrow approach.
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