2019 Toronto Coffee & Tea Expo Recap (feat. Hojicha Co.) | Event Recap and Tea Review

by Tea in Spoons

Media pass and tea provided

I love going to tea events since there is always so much to see! I went to the Toronto Coffee and Tea Expo a few years ago, so I decided to go again this year! Most of the events I go to tend to be just tea focused, so it was neat that this had both coffee and tea.

This year the event was held at the CF Shops at Don Mills, which was an outdoor venue. The first time I went it was at 99 Sudbury, which was a rather small building space and crowded, so I was happy with this new location. It was a bit cold in the morning, but it quickly warmed up.

I have to first note that I had every intention of trying some coffee vendors as well, but, it just so happened that a large portion of the tea vendors were all in one area. So, after I finished with all of the sample testings, I was pretty caffeined out. There will be a whole coffee side for me to explore next year!

In this recap, I will go over the vendors I saw, judging for the Best Tea Competition, and also reviewing the winning tea (and another tea from the same brand!)

Let’s go!


Like in my other recaps, my vendor list is more of a highlight of brands. There are always so many brands that I don’t have enough space to talk about everyone! These are just a few of the ones that stuck out to me. Some are old friends and others are new!

Momo Tea: I always love visiting Momo at her stand, with a happy grin and lots of Japanese teas to sample. She is always wonderful and gives me tons to try. If you like Japanese teas, Momo Tea is a brand you should check out! If you want to read my reviews, read them here!

Secret Teatime: Going along with the Japanese theme, if you enjoy hand made tea ware, you should see what these guys have to offer! A lot of handmade items and they also offer clay classes as well. 

JusTea: Having lived on a farm in Japan, it is especially important to me that the tea farmers get the love and recognition that they deserve. These teas are from Kenya, and if you’ve ever come across the brand, it is most likely their purple tea! I enjoy the purple tea and cocoa tisanes. If you want to read more about this brand, check out my reviews!

WizeMonkey: I am always up for trying something new! That is why I like this brand. During the off-season, the leaves are picked to make tea. Great use of the plant that doesn’t affect the coffee beans or the plant!

Tea Rebellion: In the same vein as JusTea, this brand also is about the farms the tea comes from. This brand does just that! On the back of each bag is information about the tea farmers. I love this touch. (Ps. stay tuned, review shortly!)

Bartholomew Bakery: After a long day, I was pretty hungry. I picked up some baked goods here and they were scrumptious! I hope I cross paths with them soon. 

Fraktals: The girls at the booth were very sweet. The milk chocolate buttercrunch was very delicious! These reminded me of Skor but better. My bag is almost done. However, it looks like they have retailers around where I live, thank goodness!

The Maker Bean Cafe: I remember seeing them the first time and I loved the idea of laser cut pieces. I ended up getting some custom pins of my logo done! They are so cute!

Muul: This is one brand I didn’t have a chance to try, but I would like to in the future. It is a mixture of coffee and tea. How fun!

Hojicha Co.: As expected, the brand is based around hojicha, roasted green tea from Japan! Hojucha has a fond place in my heart because of my time in Japan. They won Best Tea this year. They kindly sent me their teas, so I thought a perfect time would be to review them (below) but before that, I want to talk about being a judge!

If you want to see all the vendors, check out the Toronto Coffee and Tea Expo website! 


(Courtesy of Toronto Coffee & Tea Expo)

I normally like staying behind the camera, so I was pretty surprised when I was asked to judge. This came about because I reached out to ask about the workshops and PR team for the event sweetly asked me to be a judge. I was nervous because I am pretty camera shy.

The process was very fun and I am glad I did it! I was judging with two other people. We tasted 11 different teas ranging from traditional/straight teas, matcha, and blended teas. I was so stage shy that I didn’t look up the whole time. Whoops! 

(Courtesy of Toronto Coffee & Tea Expo)

Thank you, everyone, who dropped by and watched and congratulations to Hojicha Co.’s Dark Roasted Hojicha!

Hojicha Co.: Hojicha Dark Roast

Description: “As a roasted green tea, it is reddish brown and has a soothing earthy aroma.”

Instructions: 2 teaspoons | 250 ml of 90°C water | 30-60 seconds | Cool slightly for enhanced flavours 

Review: Hojicha Co. kindly sent me some of their tea. I was pretty excited because I had quite enjoyed this one. In the town I lived when I was in Japan, every so often you would smell hojicha roasting in the air, which was a very pleasant experience for me.

The large dry dark brown chocolate coloured leaves have a dark roasted, smokey smell with a hint of sweetness that reminds me of caramel. Once infused, the leaves become dark brown, almost black. The leaves reminded me of a campfire, warm but very smokey. The liquor is a similar colour as the wet leaves but with a reddish tint but the liquor smell is more roasted, earthy, and mushroom.

Tastewise, I find this hojicha was earthy, and sweet, but with a strong mushroom note. Midway, it circles back to the earthy and roasted notes and it lingers in the mouth. As expected, the dominant flavour is the roasted notes, which are more prevalent when the liquor is cooled.

Overall, I always feel hojicha is a great introduction to tea for people who are more familiar with coffee since it has some of those darker notes (3.5/5 rating).

  • Type: Green tea
  • Origin: Japan
  • Caffeine: Unknown
  • Ingredients: Roast green tea
  • Company: Hojicha Co.


Hojicha Co.: Hojicha Gold Roast

Description: “The delicate tea has a satisfying umami flavor and exquisite golden color.”

Instructions: 2 teaspoons | 250 ml of 90°C water | 30-60 seconds | Cool slightly for enhanced flavours 

Review: This is the gold roast, which uses spring leaves, therefore the leaves are smaller. The smell of the dry and wet leaves was much lighter but some roasted notes were evident, especially in the wet mixture. The liquor is more of a copper amber colour with roasted, earth, and caramel aromas.

The taste was very much similar to the smell – roasted, earthy, and caramel. There is even a bit of a cocoa aftertaste. In comparison to the Dark Roast, the Gold Roast is much sweeter and the smokey/roasted notes take a back seat. I tend to prefer a less smoked tea, so this one I enjoyed slightly better than the Dark Roast.

Overall, I always feel hojicha is a great introduction to tea for people who are more familiar with coffee since it has some of those darker notes. I think this would make very nice iced tea as well (4/5 rating).

  • Type: Green tea
  • Origin: Japan
  • Caffeine: Unknown
  • Ingredients: Roast green tea
  • Company: Hojicha Co.

Final Thoughts

I do like that there is a mix of coffee and tea. I stayed mostly to tea because I was pretty caffeinated out already with the selection there. I enjoyed that there were even some food options. The outdoor venue was nice, but it was a bit cold in the morning. There were also some workshops, but they were all coffee based and for most of them the lineup was long.

One comment that was brought up to me is the fact that the coffee does have a very strong smell, and it did overpower some of the smell of the tea, but I’m not sure how the event can get around that. It so happens that a lot of the tea vendors were in one area, which was slightly away from the coffee vendors who were making coffee samples.

Overall, I would suggest this for someone who has an afternoon to spare and wants to sample a handful of coffee and tea. I had a lot of fun, and I am excited to go back to try some tea (and coffee) next year!

The question of the post: What tea event do you want to go to?

Edit: Nicole from Tea for me Please included my post in her Friday roundup! Make sure to check out all the other neat posts in the tea world that week!

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Damiano May 19, 2019 - 4:02 am

I am so jealous of all the vents you have in Canada! This event seemed pretty interesting and I would love to have an event which combines both tea and coffee, especially in Italy where coffee maybe will have a little bit of traction of the public.

Unfortunately, the only tea festival in Italy this year was really disappointing: no foreign producer, a poor theme and really really small. That’s unfair 🙁

teainspoons June 1, 2019 - 4:24 pm

Maybe it is a new event? Hopefully, it scales up in the future! (Sorry! This comment got stuck in my queue and I missed it!)

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Tea in Spoons is where I share my love of teas through tea reviews, tea travel, tea tips, information, and more. New tea adventure every Thursday!