The International Tea Masters Association recently held its ITMA Certified Tea Sommelier Course™ in Long Beach, California. It was a spectacular training attended by 12 spectacular tea enthusiasts, all eager to acquire a sophisticated level of tea knowledge and taste exquisite teas of exceptional quality. The students were not disappointed!
The training was led by ITMA Certified Tea Master and ITMA Executive Director Chas Kroll, who presented the group with a vast amount of information on each of the various varieties of tea as he steeped and served: Japanese Gyokuro and Matcha, Chinese Melon Slice and Jasmine Dragon Pearls, Chinese Bai Mu Dan Wong, Kenyan Silverback White, Chinese Ti Quan Yin, Super Butterfly, and Da Hong Pao, Taiwanese Dong Fang Mei Ren (Oriental Beauty), and Hawaiian Mauka Oolong, Indian Bukhial (Assam), Lingia STGFOP (Darjeeling), Chinese Imperial Yunnan Gold Bud, and Taiwanese Gaba Black and Hu Kwa (Lapsang Souchong). All the teas were prepared according to the protocol followed in the Chinese Tea Ceremony.
One of the registrants, Natasha Nesic, volunteered to do the steeping of Golden Monkey from China for the group, which she executed with excellence.
To further expand the regisrants tea drinking experience, Kroll prepared from his own personal tea collection several high-end puerhs, blacks, and oolongs. He received sporadic comments like, “That’s the best puerh I ever tasted” and “I could drink this tea all day long.”
Kroll lectured continuously during each of the tea preparations to expand the registrants’ knowledge. He also went on to discuss subjects like the health benefits of tea, the importance of the various aspects of marketing a tea business, customer service requirements for creating repeat customers, and several other topics of interest. He went on to discuss what was involved in the second part of the course, which is home study tasting and evaluating 18 different teas from various growing regions and submitting the student’s analysis via the ITMA’s online Tea Evaluation Form, which Kroll reviews and responds to.
The tea tasting and evaluation session will be followed by tasting and evaluating a Mystery Tea, a required dissertation (5 minutes oral on Skype or 4 pages written), and a 100 question Final Examination.
Overall, the training was an extraordinary success, one that will be long remembered by everyone in the class as they continue towards completion to receive a Certificate of Completion and the prestigious ITMA Certified Tea Sommelier™ title.