A Unique Gift for the Ultimate Tea Lover
Looking for a unique gift for a tea lover? Why not give them a gift that engages all 5 senses and develops their appreciation of tea
Thinking about giving a gift to a tea lover? Tea gifts aren’t difficult to find, but there are only so many cups and mugs one person can use! Instead of more stuff, why not gift your favourite tea lover with a multi-sensory, horizon-expanding, educational course from the Tea and Herbal Association of Canada (THAC)?
Introduction to Tea (TEA 101) is the first course in the Tea Association’s Tea Sommelier® certification program – it is open to everyone (no application forms or entrance exams!) and sets the foundation for tea lovers to become certified TAC Tea Sommelier® Professionals. Available in-person at colleges in several cities across Canada or online from anywhere, this course includes a combination of short informational lectures, tea preparation and tasting, and group interaction. Students will learn introductory-level information on the history and traditions of tea and where and how it is grown. Through tea tasting and discussion attendees will establish the fundamentals for formal appreciation and analysis of tea.
Who Can Join
All adult learners are welcome! Tea Sommelier® classes include recent high school graduates to retirees – some individuals are seeking or enhancing a career in tea; some are hobbyists who just love tea and learning. Tea enthusiasts at any level will learn from Tea 101, which is the prerequisite to further courses. This course is a great testing ground to determine whether the learner wishes to cherry-pick additional courses for personal learning or continue with the full program to become a certified TAC Tea Sommelier® Professional. In order to become certified, students must successfully complete a total of 8 courses and a certification exam.
What Tea Sommelier® Students Learn
Tea Sommelier® students activate all of their senses! Each class is a mix of lecture-style learning and a formal tea tasting. Lectures include the foundations of where and how tea grows around the world and how one tea leaf can be finished as green tea, black tea or something in between. Further, students will discuss tea history and traditions around the world – from English afternoon tea to the formal Japanese tea ceremony and many other customs.
Palate development is an important part of the program, and includes examination of aromas and tastes as well as visual analysis. Part of the course is learning common language for describing characteristics and particular flavour qualities in tea. Interaction with the instructor and classmates helps to highlight discoveries and compare notes! For example, one person may dislike a tea because it seems bitter, but another may appreciate the bright briskness. Or someone may think that a floral scent reminds them of soap, while another person identifies a note of lavender or roses.
Beyond TEA 101, the 7 additional courses cover tea topics in much more depth, including how to pair tea with food; tea types and processing; the history (and legends!) of tea; and how the tea industry works around the world. After TEA 101 the additional courses may be taken in any order or chosen according to personal interest.
Where and When Courses are Available
Students in some Canadian cities are able to take courses in person:
- Algonquin College: Ottawa, ON
- Fanshawe College: London, ON
- Mohawk College: Hamilton, ON
- Niagara College: Niagara-on-the-Lake, ON
- Nova Scotia Community College: Halifax, NS
- Seneca College: Toronto, ON
- Vancouver Community College: Vancouver, BC
Note that course offerings vary by college at any given time, and may require minimum registration in order to run. For a full list of colleges offering the Tea Sommelier® program, visit http://teasommelier.com/#where.
In addition, courses are available online through The Academy of Tea, which offers several courses at a time, with new intakes accepted throughout the year. It is also available in Italian at ProTea Academy, and in Spanish at Escuela Mexicana de Té.
Whether in-person or online, courses start throughout the year and generally take 4-6 weeks to complete, with one class per week. Registration fees vary slightly by province and college – check your local program for accurate costing.
Why the Tea Sommelier® Program
There are few places to gain good tea training in Canada – or even around the world. The Tea and Herbal Association of Canada created the Tea Sommelier® program to fill this gap. Our certified, professional instructors are some of Canada’s tea leaders, and they are passionate about sharing their knowledge. Another benefit of the Tea Sommelier® program is that students are surrounded by like-minded peers – people who truly love tea and are excited to develop and learn more about it. Whether a student is interested in becoming a future tea leader, or simply studying for personal enjoyment (and to impress friends), TEA 101 and following courses provide a thorough, well-rounded learning experience. The program has also been awarded an Award of Distinction from CSAE, for the benefits that the program brings to its members and the industry.
Finally, the Tea Sommelier® program is the only professional tea certification offered in Canada, recognized internationally and supported by the tea industry.