Toronto Tea Festival 2024


Kevin Gascoyne

British tea taster Kevin Gascoyne has spent every Spring in Asia as a buyer for 30 years. Taster/co-owner of Camellia Sinensis, his catalogue has gained World renown. Award-winning writer, he lectures all over the planet, runs 2 tea schools, workshops, conferences, field consulting, trade development and seminars. Co-Founder of the Tea Studio, Director of the Canadian Tea Association and Tea Masters Cup Canada. Aside from his obsessive quest for Darjeeling’s finest leaf, he has a passion for shop keeping in his stores. According to his colleagues his daily tea consumption compares to the flow of some small rivers.

SESSION INFO: An Inside View of the Tea Studio Project
The Tea Studio project, in India’s Nilgiri Hills, was founded by an international group of tea professionals back in 2015 and has produced tea since 2017. In that short time, they have received attention World-wide for their innovative approach to environmental power, socio-economic development as well as their state-of-the-art artisanal tea-making. Co-founder and director, Kevin Gascoyne, gives us a video tour of the Tea Studio followed by a Q&A session to introduce this new approach to tea manufacture and how it evolved in reaction to developing markets, struggling social structures and environmental necessity. Essential learning for all tea enthusiasts. (

Linda Gaylard

Linda Gaylard is a Tea Sommelier based in Toronto.

She is author of the international bestselling,

THE TEA BOOK, Winner of the 2017 World Tea Award for Best Tea Publication

Published by DK, a division of Penguin Random House, The Tea Book is a world tour of the art of tea. It has been translated into 12 languages.

Linda is chair of the Tea Guild of Canada. She appears in media interviews, is a consultant and spokesperson for the food and beverage industry, lectures, and hosts tea events.

She is currently instructor of the George Brown College Tea Sommelier program.

Website: The Tea Stylist Social @theteastylist

Speech topic: Tea, Through Time and Tradition – Linda Gaylard

Follow the path that tea has taken over time, as it migrated from its indigenous roots to regions far beyond, capturing cultures and societies as it raised the beverage to an artform, gave it status for the aristocracy, and eventually comfort for the masses.

Nadia De La Vega

Nadia De La Vega is the Director of Tea Sustainability and Content at DAVIDsTEA (DTEA), a leading North American specialty tea brand specializing in high-quality teas & accessories and above-and-beyond customer service. She oversees and directs DAVIDsTEA’s sustainability strategy, working closely on impact initiatives & partnerships, while collaborating with product development and sourcing teams. Together, they have successfully launched multiple impact projects that benefit both their local and global communities, most notably in Nepal, South Africa and Canada, thanks to multilayered partnerships. DAVIDsTEA, headquartered in Montreal, Canada, is committed to making a positive impact in the tea industry and consciously choosing partners that share that same vision.


Amy Lou Taylor

About Amy Lou Taylor; For 30+ years Amy has been a Tea Enthusiast and a professional Tea Leaf and Card Reader. She is the sole owner of TAOTAT’s Mystic Tea & Brooms, est. 2009. Amy is a Certified TAC Tea Sommelier Professional, Tea Educator and Broomsquire. She also was a contributing writer for the Tea and Herb Association of Canada’s Herbal Modules for TAC Certified Tea Sommelier courses. Amy has contributed to many magazines, media outlets and blogs as an authority on Tasseomancy (however she feels she is always learn more about the Art) and is also in the process writing two books about the mystical side of tea. Find her on the web at

Speech topic: The Art of Tea and Tasseomancy

Have you always wanted to learn the Art of Tea Leaf Reading? 
Then this introductory presentation is for you! 
Tea is steeped in history and a healthy smattering of superstition, and reading fortunes with it hearkens back to days of the old divinatory art forms of the Geomancy; interpreting symbols and formations made by random objects. 
Tasseomancy (tea leaf reading) is the Art and Practice of divination by the interpretation of symbolic patterns made by tea leaves in a teacup. Join Amy as she talks about how this form of divination came to be the Art it is today. 
She will cover its rich history, mystery and origins, the tools used and the forms it is done in. This presentation is an interactive, fun and informative session and is open to all ages!

Rikko Osaki

Certified Japanese green tea advisor

The founder of Hokusan Tea Canada – winning the Best Japanese Green Tea of 2022 by North American Tea Associations.

Rikko has a life-long passion for quality tea. It’s not just a beverage: it’s a whole experience, and a bonafide ritual that brings a special vibe to people’s lives. This invigorating drink has been helping people achieve their “inner zen” for thousands of years. Rikko believes that we all can learn so much from Japan’s amazing tea culture. While introducing the finest green tea from all over Japan, Rikko can help everyone experience this remarkable tea and find some solace from the chaos and stress of daily living.

Speech topic: Japanese Tea Auction and the sustainability Challenge

Preena Chauhan from Arvinda’s

Preena Chauhan is an entrepreneur, Indian food expert, cooking instructor and award-winning author who runs popular cooking classes in the GTA through Arvinda’s where local, seasonal ingredients and fresh spices is the key to creating delicious, modern and traditional Indian menus.

She is co-founder of Arvinda’s, a line of premium Indian spice blends, and aspires to share her multi-textured, mouth-watering food moments with an audience enamoured with the foods and spices of her culture.

Preena is co-author of the award-winning New Indian Basics cookbook (2022, Appetite by Random House) and wants to inspire others to create delicious spice infused masala chai and menus for joy, good health and eating pleasure!

Speech topic: Authentic Chai Brewing

Speech Topic: Introduction to Kintsugi
Kintsugi is a Japanese traditional method of mending broken ceramics. One of kintsugi’s philosophies, “resilience” attracted attention especially during the pandemic period because it sublimates scars into beautiful art instead of denying or hiding them.
In this lecture, you will be immersed in the origin of kintsugi which can be traced back 9,000 years. With deep philosophies beyond concepts of resiliency, participants will learn about the various materials used, the unseen structure and process of Kintsugi, its crisis, and its future.


About Shuichi
Shuichi was born in Japan and was heavily involved in various arts throughout his life. He earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology which allowed him to delve deeper into understanding human cognition, perception, and expression.  
The kintsugi technique of giving new artistic life to previously fragmented pieces is appealing to Shuichi because this process represents healing oneself.
Shuichi has been practicing kintsugi in Japan since 2005. He continued this practice upon moving to Toronto in 2019 and hopes to bring greater awareness and appreciation to this unique Japanese art. His other passions include Bizen ware pottery, as well as the philosophies of Zen and Vipassana meditation.

Taniya Gupta

Taniya Gupta is a poet, yogi, and tea lover. Her first book of poems, What Will People Say, will be released in January 2024. She loves practicing mindfulness through tea. She’s a graduate from Being Tea’s teacher training, a program that emphasizes inclusivity and trauma-informed education. Through her work, Taniya advocates for voice and mental health. She loves creating spaces where we can gather and share our stories safely. Taniya hosts tea and poetry workshops online, and also collaborates with other tea-lovers for similar workshops. Read more about her work on her website: or Instagram: @yogateapoetry 

Topic: Slowing Down with tea and poetry

Let’s take a pause for ourselves, steep some tea, listen to poetry, and connect back with our bodies. Journaling optional. 
Tea bowls, tea leaves, cards with journaling prompts, and pens will be provided for the session. 
Please Note: This session is limited to 12 attendees on a first come, first served basis. 

Pratik Rijal

Growing up in a family that had been in the tea business for 40 years, Pratik never thought he’d join it. Even after studying finance and starting a corporate job, he couldn’t resist the pull of the tea world. Pratik is a 3rd generation tea producer and co-founder of Nepal Tea Collective. He stays occupied by introducing Nepali teas and nepali farmers to the worldwide market while using tea as a catalyst for social change in eastern Nepal.

Speech Topic: The Origins of Nepali Tea and Nepal Tea Collective

Edward Qu

Edward is both a tea sommelier and an oenologist (specialist in the science and craft of winemaking), and is known as an educator in tea culture and wine production.

He works as a full-time production assistant at Niagara College Teaching Winery, where he manages the winery lab and winemaking projects. He assists with teaching a variety of courses relating to winemaking, including sensory evaluation, vineyard management, wine chemistry, and lab analysis. Concurrently, he is also the wine educator for Southbrook Vineyards (Biodynamic Certified) in Niagara-on-the-Lake.

Edward’s wine journey traces back to an earlier passion for tea culture. He obtained the esteemed designation of Advanced Sommelier of Chinese Tea and Advanced Tea Critic in China and travelled throughout China, Sri Lanka, and Nepal for tea. After moving to Canada in 2017, he co-founded MING Tea and led tea education events at the Royal Botanical Gardens, Brock University, and Toronto Tea Festivals. In addition, Edward curates tea and wine tastings and leads occasional small-group tea tours across China, which showcase his many connections with, and deep knowledge of, Chinese tea culture.

Speech Topic: Similarities Between Tea and Wine

Nicole Wilson

Nicole Wilson is a tea writer and educator who has been sharing her love of the leaf online for more than a decade. Her website,, is the longest continuously running tea blog written by a female author. In 2018, she won the World Tea Award for Best Tea Blog. Every week you can expect to see reviews of specialty teas and related products, informative articles, reports on important events, and more. The mission behind everything she does is to help everyone discover the wide world of tea in a fun and approachable way. When she isn’t writing, Nicole teaches classes on a variety of tea topics in person and online. She also speaks at industry conferences and tea festivals.

Speech Topic: Drink Your Tea and Eat it too

Viviane Meguerditchian

Culinary chef, naturopath and owner of the Salon de thé Les Demoiselles, Viviane Meguerditchian is constantly looking for the beauty and good that life brings. Epicurean and passionate, teatime represents an unparalleled moment of grace for Viviane. Join her in her joyful and creative world, where afternoon tea is the most beautiful feast for all senses. A unique opportunity to learn more about the origins of the tradition, the benefits it provides and leave with the desire to create your own whimsical afternoon tea.

Topic: Sensory Bliss: The Delights Of Afternoon Tea

Marco Namowicz

Tea Educator, Community Organizer, Training and Development Leader

Marco Namowicz is a seasoned Tea Educator and Community Organizer, primarily focusing on training and development in the tea industry. With a rich background dating back to 2013, Marco has been a driving force in building training and education curriculum for Argo Tea. His expertise extends to opening licensed partner cafes internationally and operating cafes in diverse markets. Marco has also collaborated closely with notable entities such as Grass People Tree and Aera Tea.

A recognized speaker, Marco has graced the stages of the 2019 and 2020 Chicago International Tea Festivals, captivating audiences with his insights and passion for tea. Beyond the festival circuit, he is a proud Guizhou Brewing International Exchange Group member, Co-founder of Activist Tea House, and Co-founder of the Chicago Tea Collective.

Passionate about the transformative power of tea, Marco believes in its ability to connect and mobilize people. His advocacy revolves around sharing stories and empowering others to celebrate tea, emphasizing accessibility to tea and maintaining a “beginner’s mind.” Marco is also an active member and previous participant in the Being Tea Teacher Training Program, further solidifying his commitment to the ongoing education and promotion of tea culture.

Attendees at the Toronto Tea Festival can anticipate a thought-provoking session, exploring the diverse world of tea and its profound impact on communities and individuals. His unique blend of experience, passion, and commitment to accessibility ensures an engaging and enlightening experience for all.

Speech Topic: Steeped in community

Julien Drouin Bouffard

Julien Drouin-Bouffard is the owner of Tea of the North company and producer of the first Canadian teas. He has managed the production of those teas for 6 years now, learning from scratch and building knowledge through reading books, watching videos and trial and error. The fireweed wild leaves are foraged by hand in Quebec’s wild meadows. At the factory, they are processed using the same techniques used in Asia with the same tea specialized machines imported from China to create those unique local caffeine-free teas.

Julien has traveled in Taiwan in spring 2023 to learn from tea masters. He was literally infused into this inspiring tea culture and met an incredibly welcoming people. He brought this flame back with him in his luggage to spread it through his tea production and experimentation.

Curious by nature, he is a self-taught enthusiast of our ecological and social transition.

Speech Topic: Discover the art of the first Canadian teas

Come meet the craftman behind this little revolution who will present his local green, Wulong and black teas made from Canadian wild plants. He will share with you his passion, techniques, traveling stories and much more.

Speech Topic: Talk On Puer

Kevin Kong

Kevin Born in Guangzhou, China. Kevin is a second generation medical doctor.

In 2001, he graduated from Jiangxi Medical University, and became Medical doctor in China. Over the course of his 18 years Traditional Chinese Medicine clinic experience in Toronto, Kevin has helped to relieve the pain and suffering of thousands of patients through Yin-Yang balance.

Kevin also runs tea imported business direct from relatives’ tea manufactures over 10 years.

Kevin is specialized in how to assess different body discomfort or unbalanced by pulse and tongue reading, and he will make a suggest on which tea to help the patient’s body become balanced, and maintain good health.


Piripa is originally from Thailand.

In 2010, Piripa migrated to Canada to pursue her Master Degree in Logistics & Supply Chain Management.

Piripa is the fourth generation of Chinese immigration in Thailand.

Growing up with her grandparent who is a vivid Chinese tea drinker and tea trader, Piripa has maximized her Business Development skills to help her family’s business to expand across the world.