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Tea Certification... From the Experts

For many years, the Specialty Tea Institute has been offering excellent educational seminars. For the past year, STI has been offering certification courses - Foundations of Tea: Level One & Level Two.

This course was developed by a team of industry experts in response to numerous requests for a standardized education program that offers an industry-wide, recognizable accreditation. The two-day educational conference is part of one of the most significant STI initiatives ever undertaken and represents a major milestone in the history of the U.S. specialty tea industry.

Richard Guzauskas, chairman of the Certification Committee and the founder of Leaves Pure Teas, said that STI was trying to obtain a common level of knowledge throughout the industry. Its primary focus is to educate the industry and everyone associated with it - to have everyone speaking the same language. U.S. Tea Association president, Joe Simrany added: “Certification by an official organization (STI) can also lend credibility to the trade much as a diploma certifies that someone who graduated from a certain institution presumably has acquired a certain level of knowledge.”

As a preliminary look into the basics of tea, Foundations of Tea: Level I will provide attendees with a strong understanding of the different components of tea. Topics will include, where and how teas are grown, processed and what differentiates the different types and classifications of tea. Attendees will have the opportunity to taste teas and to examine the different styles of the leaves, discuss tea steeping and basic characteristics of different teas.

Foundations of Tea: Level Two will take an in-depth look at the production of teas, different cupping methods for teas (including but not limited to the method approved by STI and used as the international standard), leaf styles and origins, characteristics of CTC as well as Orthodox teas. This seminar will allow attendees to view and taste many of the teas now available and consumed in the U.S. market. A manual will be provided and exams are given at each level.

Only members of STI teach the courses, offering true expertise on every tea subject to benefit the participants.

This accreditation course is being offered at this month’s Take Me 2 Tea trade show in Las Vegas, as well as future SCAA shows and Fancy Food shows. Attendance has been growing tremendously, says Guzauskas, “And the group is very mixed - tea shop owners, tea professionals and employees of tea companies, hotel chains and buyers, tea sommeliers and some of the major restaurant chains. STI has been very happy with the growing attendance.”

And will more classes be offered in the future? Says Simrany: “It is a safe bet that several more levels will be offered in increasing complexity and scope.”

A better well-rounded tea education cannot be found in the U.S.

For more information, see www.teausa.org.

Jane McCabe
Editor & Co-Publisher

Tea & Coffee - March/April, 2005

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