Savor Lover’s Leap tea and artisanal chocolates, celebrate the Chinese Lunar New Year, see world-class performances by Anna Netrebko and the Steppenwolf Theatre Company, or chat with Margaret Atwood — all from the comfort of home.
Whether you’re celebrating Valentine’s Day or Galentine’s Day, everyone deserves an extra-special experience this February 14. But with indoor-dining options unavailable in most areas, many people are resigned to spending the holiday at home.
Luckily, Smith Tea is offering a sweet escape that you can enjoy solo or with a loved one from the comfort of your own home. Indulge in the online Tea and Chocolate: Tasting and Pairing Class, and sample four of Smith’s most distinctive teas — including the coveted, seasonal Lover’s Leap black tea blend — while nibbling decadent, artisanal chocolates from Portland’s Woodblock Chocolate Manufactory. Experts will guide you through the tasting, explaining the history, aromas, and complementary flavor profiles of the intricately crafted elixirs and treats.
Buy your tickets for the February 14 event now, as it tends to sell out. You’ll get the tea sachets and chocolate bars shipped to you in advance. It might take some willpower not to dig in before the big day — but we promise, it will be worth the wait.
Now that Valentine’s Day is covered, are you searching for more virtual events to get you through February? Below, we’ve rounded up some of the month’s most intriguing online experiences — with tips from Smith’s head teamaker, Ravi Kroesen, on what teas to pair with each homebound adventure.
Sundance Film Festival
January 28–February 3
Land still courtesy of Sundanceorg
This year, you don’t have to head to Park City, Utah, to attend one of the nation’s preeminent film showcases. Instead, simply buy a virtual ticket and stream the movie premieres — along with live director and/or cast commentary — from home. On-demand options are available too, in case the initial screening doesn’t fit your schedule.
Tea pairing: Soothe Sayer — the perfect remedy to invigorate the body in between films.
Anna Netrebko opera performance
February 6, 10am PST
Superstar Russian soprano Anna Netrebko treats the Metropolitan Opera’s at-home audiences to a live performance of her signature arias. Can’t make the Saturday live-stream? Visit the Met Stars Live web page to buy tickets for another virtual concert.
Tea pairing: Ceylon Dimbula. Drink what the Russians drink — extra points if it’s brewed in a samovar.
Chinese Lunar New Year events
February 10, 3pm PST; and February 13, 7am PST and 4:30pm PST
Shanghai Quartet courtesy of National Museum of Asian Art
Ring in the Year of the Ox with a series of online events organized by the Freer and Sackler Galleries and the Smithsonian American Art Museum. First, on February 10, Luck and Fortune: Lunar New Year Food Traditions sees the museum’s curator of Chinese art, Jan Stuart, and restaurateur Lydia Chang discuss the holiday’s quintessential dishes. Then, the morning of February 13, enjoy a family-friendly Lunar New Year celebration, featuring streamed performances and children’s activities. Later that day, listen to the vaunted Shanghai Quartet play Pulitzer Prize–winning composer Zhou Long’s “Eight Folk Songs” and other classical works.
Tea pairing: Mao Feng Shui — a traditional tea for a traditional holiday.
Margaret Atwood discusses Oryx and Crake
February 11, 11am PST
Published in 2003 and short-listed for the Booker Prize, Oryx and Crake takes place in dystopian future devastated by a man-made pandemic. Might its author, The Handmaid’s Tale scribe Margaret Atwood, have some insight into our current struggles? Find out in this enlightening live-streamed conversation, hosted by The Guardian’s chief books writer Lisa Allardice. Fans are invited to ask Atwood questions at the end of the session.
Tea pairing: Phoenix Oolong — an appropriate tea for Oryx and Crake. With notes of peach and orchid, it tastes like a tea created by a mad scientist. After a few cups, you may feel like you’re rising from the ashes of a fallen civilization.
London Fashion Week
Courtesy of London Fashion Week
One of the world’s most stylish cities, London is moving its entire fashion calendar online this season. Watch as the U.K.’s top designers — including Victoria Beckham, Temperley London, and Emilia Wickstead (all favorites of Kate Middleton) — present their fall 2021 ready-to-wear collections via socially distanced runway shows and films.
Tea pairing: British Brunch — because it is a deconstructed English Breakfast … and who in the fashion world doesn’t love brunch?
Ongoing, through August 2021
Courtesy of Steffenwolf.org
Staying true to its groundbreaking roots, Chicago’s Steppenwolf Theatre Company — which nurtured the talents of John Malkovich, Laurie Metcalf, and cofounder Gary Sinise, among other thespians — has launched a virtual program for its 2020–21 season. Purchase an online membership and experience all six digital-stage events, including the current production, Red Folder, an illustrated short play narrated by actress (and ensemble member) Carrie Coon.
Tea pairing: Black Lavender. Like Steppenwolf Theatre, this tea is nod to an institution (black tea) while still pushing the boundaries.
Traveling Spoon cooking classes
Courtesy of Traveling Spoon
Pre-pandemic, Traveling Spoon would invite tourists into the homes of locals around the world, so they could share a meal together — and connect over food. These days, the company is fostering a similar cultural experience by offering private online cooking classes taught by home chefs across six continents. Overwhelmed by all the tantalizing options? We recommend Mumbai resident Reshma’s Indian biryani lesson.
Tea pairings: Bonbon — a tea that can stand up to the intense flavors of Indian cooking. Or Masala Chai — some obvious pairings are too good to ignore. Biryani is to peanut butter as chai is to jelly.
Virtual Online Museum of Art (VOMA)
View of interactive gallery on visit.voma.space
This trailblazing cultural institution showcases works by some of the world’s most revered artists (including Henri Matisse, Édouard Manet, Li Wei, Lygia Clark, and Jasper Johns) in an interactive, computer-generated setting. Much like a physical museum, VOMA presents rotating exhibitions as well as a permanent collection of paintings, sculptures, films, and mixed-media pieces — but the artworks are complex reproductions created via 3-D imaging.
Tea pairing: Rose City Genmaicha — not quite classic art, but still a spectacle.
Wine.com virtual wine tastings
Wine.com’s virtual tastings have earned high praise, and rightly so. The online retailer gathers winemakers, sommeliers, and the occasional celebrity (John Legend, Cameron Diaz, Francis Ford Coppola) for vino-centric at-home experiences. Guests are encouraged to purchase the wines in advance and taste along with the experts. Check the calendar for live virtual events, or stream a pre-recorded favorite, such as Oregon’s Trailblazing Winemakers, starring a trio of pinot noirs from the wonderful Willamette Valley.
Tea pairing: Northwest Alder Leaf. Grown in the Pacific Northwest and crafted with the same care as a fine wine, this tea mirrors the delicate complexity of a pinot.
By Virginia Shannon