World Tea Academy, latest to arrive on the tea training scene, provides online curriculum to achieve tea certification. The organization offers six core competencies, each with tuition individually priced at $325 ($400 for international registrants), along with a $50 examination fee for each one. Classes, listed below, are delivered online in three-week sessions. The program results in accreditation as a WTA Certified Tea Specialist™. Registrants can continue their education and achieve an advanced accreditation: WTA Certified Tea Professional™, WTA Certified Tea Sommelier™, or WTA Certified Tea Health Expert™. These advanced accreditations require additional tuition, the cost of which has not been disclosed publicly.
World Tea Academy delivers tea education without the need to travel to a training location. It is led by tea educator, Donna Fellman, with the support and oversight of its Strategic Technical Advisors, all of whom are tea vendors.
Classes are delivered online in three-week sessions. Their online learning platform creates a classroom-like environment for student-to-student interaction, and is filled with rich content, videos, learning points, group discussions, and PDF downloads of course materials.
Students taking the Core.01 Essentials of Camellia sinensis class are shipped both teas and a Cupping Lab Starter Kit that include cupping sets, digital scale, thermometer, and timer.
In the Advanced Curriculum students can achieve one or more of the following designations: WTA Certified Tea Professional™, WTA Certified Tea Sommelier™, and WTA Certified Tea Health Expert™. Advanced certification will require students to complete a minimum of six of the electives in their desired advanced certification.
WTA Certified Tea Professional™ – Designed for business owners and individuals directly involved in the tea trade.
WTA Certified Tea Sommelier™ – Created for tea room owners and staff and foodservice professionals.
WTA Certified Tea Health Expert™ – Perfect for spas, wellness centers, nutritionists, dietitians, health care providers, naturopaths, and individuals interested in leading a healthy lifestyle.
Specialty Tea Institute, founded in 2002, offers the country’s first standardized and accredited tea education curriculum. Its courses consist of 4 Levels of training, each of which can only be taken after prior levels have been completed. They are held in conjunction with various food and beverage conferences throughout the country. Level 3 consists of five trainings (Green, White, and Yellow Tea, Oolong Tea, Black Tea, Puerh Tea, and Professional Cupping). To enroll in Level 4, all of the Level 3 courses must be completed. Level 4 trainings involve Blending, Cupping, and Tea Technology, each of which is a 2-day training.
Each training is $400 for STI Members ($500 for non-Members). In addition to the cost of training, registrants will need to pay for hotel accommodations, airfare, and meals as each training is held at various locations. Most trainings are for 2-days, while several are only 1-day events.
Level 3 and 4 certifications will take at least 2-1/2 years to complete and will cost approximately $4,600, with additional expenses for travel, lodging, and meals.
Additionally, STI was closely allied with the World Tea Expo. However, the World Tea Academy is attempting to be the “teaching” arm that STI once was exclusively.
Tea Association of Canada offers a Tea Sommelier Certification Course, which is designed for individuals wishing to expand and enhance their love of tea. Eight classes will help students practice new skills and expand their knowledge and palate for tea, design a menu for pairing, learn the delicate nuances of tasting, evaluating, preparing and consuming different teas, including a blind taste test.
The training is composed of eight classes that must be completed prior to the Tea Sommelier Certificate Examination. The certification program consists of 150 hours of instruction.
Total tuition fees are $2,904, excluding taxes, cupping sets, and training materials. Courses are available in various colleges throughout Canada requiring additional expenses for travel, lodging, and meals.
International Tea Masters Association, formed in 2007, provides mastery level training, education, and professional certification to individuals desiring to become Tea Sommeliers, Tea Blenders, and Tea Masters. The association is respected as meeting superior educational standards by offering its Certified Tea Sommelier Course™, Certified Tea Blending Course™, and Certified Tea Master Course™ for achieving prestigious industry titles and professional designations, all highly respected in the tea industry.
The curriculum utilizes advanced learning techniques developed by the Foundation for Inspired Learning. All of its courses are based on experiential, hands-on learning, instruction, and continuous positive reinforcement.
ITMA Certified Tea Sommelier™ – Designed for individuals directly involved in the tea trade and tea business owners. Registrants will learn the correct way to evaluate the taste and aroma of numerous high quality teas. The course consists of an initial 3-day in-person training held onsite at a hotel, followed by an 8-week home study course beginning a week later.
ITMA Certified Tea Blender™ – Registrants will learn to create professional blends, based on traditional formulas and current market demand, as they are trained in blending various types and grades of tea with other teas and with other ingredients. The training is regarded as the finest, most complete tea blending course in the tea industry.
ITMA Certified Tea Master™ – The two-part, three-month course, contains all the educational requirements an individual needs for achieving the prestigious Tea Taster or Tea Master designation, the most prestigious title in the tea industry. The course holds the high level of focus needed to gain the competence to serve as a tea taster or tea master at a distinguished restaurant, hotel, or tea business, or start one’s own successful enterprise. The first 3-days is in-person at a training location at a luxury hotel, while the next 12 weeks involve home study tasting and evaluating exceptional high-grade teas.
International Tea Education Institute (ITEI), formerly the Canadian Tea Masters Association, was replaced by ITEI in 2015. The ITEI claims to have a presence in “multiple major cities worldwide with its Accredited Education Centres and has graduates from 13 different countries.” It offers an ITEI Certified Tea Sommelier Course, an ITEI Certified Tea Blender Course, and an ITEI Certified Tea Master Course.
The company is owned and operated by Sylvana Levesque, trained by the International Tea Masters Association as a tea master in 2011. She became an ITMA Trainer shortly thereafter until she was terminated for cause in September, 2013. Her company’s web site (www.itei.ca) basically copied the features and operational structure of the International Tea Masters Association. A review of this site will reveal verbose editorial content, numerous grammatical errors, misspellings, and organizational features similar to that of the ITMA.