Category Archives: Industry News

Important news in the tea industry.


Since announcing the ITMA Certified Tea Master Course™ online on Skype a few months ago, the response has been rather extraordinary.  We’re now booked up solid through the end of the year and into January.  So, if you desire to become a Certified Tea Master and you want to prepare tea like an expert, post a $250 Tuition Deposit on our web site to register and you’ll be on your way.

Our online course eliminates the cost of travel, which is what was required in the past with our onsite training at a hotel venue.  It also saves registrants the cost of a hotel room and food-away-from-home expenses.

The  ITMA Certified Tea Master Course™ is the finest, most complete training in the tea industry.  It provides the knowledge and experience needed to serve at an upscale hotel, restaurant, tea business, or start your own tea establishment.  The title alone will attract a significant number of patrons with ease and effortlessness.

The Skype training will be led by ITMA Certified Tea Master™, founder, and former ITMA Executive Director, Chas Kroll, one of the most knowledgeable individuals in the tea industry and a highly competent senior trainer with 21 years of extensive experience in tea. He is committed to making the event a memorable life-changing experience for each registrant.

Don’t wait to register for this special training course.  Go to the Course Description page today and click on the $250 Deposit button.  You won’t be disappointed.

Avoid Financial Failure

I enjoyed your 2-day intensive “Start a Successful Tea Business” course. I fully understand now why tea is considered a marketing intensive business. I learned a great deal about operating a profitable tea business and how to avoid common financial mistakes. Success requires effectively using my website and blog, social media, press releases, public speaking engagements, superior customer service, and an outstanding line of high quality teas.

Thank you for sharing with us your extraordinary tea knowledge and experiences. It will contribute to the successful future of our new tea room opening soon.

I recommend this training to everyone who is planning to start a tea business.

Alex S., Houston, Texas

Course Details are available here.

Innovation is Changing the Tea Industry

Vahdam Teas does not transport in large shipping containers for months before being packaged and sold. All their teas are sourced within 24-72 hours at the tea estates.  Their teas have been door-delivered to consumers in 76 countries. Vahdam has eliminated all middlemen and created new innovations in the supply chain of tea.  By sourcing and delivering direct, they are creating a process which helps every farmer get a better price for their teas.

According to Tea Commerce, a web site focused on the financial growth of the tea industry, and its December 11th article, “India’s Vahdam Teas raises $1.4M to bring fresher tea to your door faster.”

“Vahdam Teas, an e-commerce that’s focused on selling the freshest brews on the planet, has closed a Series A funding round worth $1.4 million to grow its business.

“The funding was led by new backers: Fireside Venture, Mumbai Angels, Singapore Angel Network and undisclosed existing investors. Vahdam Teas, a two-year-old company, previously raised a $500,000 seed round from angels in January of this year.

“Vahdam’s biggest rival is Teabox, a five-year-old company that kickstarted the ‘tea-commerce’ model and has picked up $7 million in backing from venture  capitalists, including Accel.

“Business model-wise, Vahdam has a similar approach to Teabox. It aims to speed up the time it takes tea to go from being picked to being served in a customer’s home. To do that, it sources leaves direct from plantations after which 95 percent is vacuum packed and prepared to be shipped direct to customers.

“Tea is sold from Vahdam’s website and through a partnership with Amazon, the U.S. e-commerce giant that has vast ambitions in India. The company look part in Amazon’s India-based Launchpad program which includes a page on Amazon’s U.S. site.”

Extraordinary Testimonial from a
new ITMA Tea Sommelier

What was the most significant thing you learned during the course and why?:

The most significant thing I learned during the ITMA course was how much respect tea deserves. The history, the nuances, the thousands of years of harvesting… this is an ancient art. I had been taking tea for granted my whole life, CTC all the way. I will not make the same mistake again. That knowledge has changed my life, because now I have a whole new experience, a meditative one, of experiencing tea. And I can’t imagine not having that space, that energy, in my life. It’s brought a whole new scope of depth and feeling… tea is like life: if you can settle in and experience the nuances of the flavors, colors, aromas, life will always be a textured masterpiece – if you have the peace of mind to be present with it. I will never go back to the rush-rush of a little baggie in hot water and slurping my way through the day without even tasting the flavor.

Another Successful Training in New York City

The International Tea Masters Association recently held its ITMA Certified Tea Sommelier Course™ in New York City.  It was a spectacular training attended by nine fortunate tea enthusiasts, eager to acquire a sophisticated level of tea knowledge as they tasted exquisite teas of exceptional quality.  The students were not disappointed!

The training was led by ITMA Certified Tea Masters Daniel Johnson who presented the group with a vast amount of information on each of the primary varieties of tea.  They evaluated and tasted close to 30 different varieties of Japanese, Chinese, Taiwanese, Indian, Sri Lankan, Hawaiian teas.  The teas were prepared following Chinese Tea Ceremony “Gongfu Cha”, Japanese “senchado” and  “Cha No Yu”,  as well as professional cupping methods.

Johnson lectured continuously during each of the tea preparations to expand the registrants’ knowledge.  They also went on to discuss 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.  They then 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 registrant’s analysis via ITMA’s online Tea Evaluation Form.

They explained that the 18 tea tasting and evaluation sessions 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 its fortunate registrants after they receive a Certificate of Completion and the prestigious  ITMA Certified Tea Sommelier™ title.

The ITMA Certified Tea Sommelier Course™ will be held again in New York City in the second half of 2017.

Cost Comparison of
Tea Industry Training Programs

Capture 1World 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.

Capture 2World 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.

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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.

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International Tea Education Institute (ITEI), formerly the Canadian Tea Masters Association.  The ITEI has 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.

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Fresh Brew Restaurants

by Dan Bolton
Copyright 2016 October Multimedia.
Posted with permission of STiR coffee and tea.


When a customer asks with a frown, “Is this tea freshly brewed?” waitstaff cringe.

If they answer “no” more than half of tea drinkers will either chose a different beverage or order no beverage at all. Restaurant patrons say the tell-tale tinny taste of tea concentrates and fountain teas no longer meet even their quick service expectations.

If the tea is not fresh brewed, there is no substitute.

Tea is the logical high-margin alternative to soda for QSR and casual restaurants – but convenient tea is not always a satisfying choice, especially for millennials who insist on superior taste. Eighty-seven percent of millennials call tea their go-to beverage but ingredient lists for concentrates that include high fructose corn syrup, stabilizers, caramel coloring, and red dye 40, phosphoric acid, potassium sorbate, and sodium benzoate are a turnoff.

What tea lovers want is tea freshly brewed in small batches throughout the day typically prepared on a new generation of 1.5 to 3.0 gallon brewers, some with variable steeping times and temperature settings.

 Big market opportunity

“While coffee has had the wind at its back, the $20 billion foodservice tea market may have the edge in future growth momentum,” writes Packaged Facts. “Given the current industry momentum and tea’s pivotal role in helping limited-service players grow lunch and afternoon sales, tea sales growth rates will inevitably trend upward over the next few years,” according to Foodservice Trends in the US a 2015 report published by Package Facts.

Nielsen estimates US cold beverage sales at $56.9 billion with 81.6% of that total spent on cold beverages ($46.5 billion). Package Facts estimated $19.9 billion in foodservice tea sales (hot and cold), which was up 4.8% from 2014, and accelerating to 5.1% in 2016. RTD iced tea grew by 8% this year according to Nielsen US Strategic Planner Scanning, which calculates sales for all US outlets (for the 52 week period ending Aug. 27).

US soda consumption is at a 30-year low following 11 consecutive years of decline. As sales slip, restaurants and convenience outlets are turning to companies like S&D Coffee & Tea to take advantage of this opportunity by revitalizing and upgrading their tea selections, starting with brewing methods.

This year John Buckner, vice president of marketing at S&D, the largest tea and coffee supplier to US restaurants, commissioned Datassential to take a deep dive into consumer trends that retailers will find useful. In November he shared these results in a webinar hosted by QSR magazine. Compared to other cold beverages, of the 12,000 consumers surveyed, 55% said that fresh brew is “fresher” and “healthier” (55%) and “tastes better” (51%) and is “more natural” and “less processed” (46%) than rivals. Seventy-nine percent said fresh brewed tea is healthier than tea that comes in bottles, and 82% said tea is more natural when fresh brewed.

The importance of fresh brew

“The most impactful attribute to a successful iced tea program is fresh brew,” reports Buckner. Almost a third (30%) of consumers in Datassential’s Buzz Tea & Coffee panel would order more tea if fresh brewed (preferably at the restaurant), he said.

If fresh brewed isn’t available tea drinkers may settle for iced tea from a soda fountain or a can “but 20% will order a different beverage and another 20% order no beverage at all,” he said, costing restaurants valuable customers. Tea is so profitable that on average, selling a single glass pays for the entire batch (up to 3 gal.). Compared to soda 86% of customers surveyed say fresh brewed tea is more healthy and more natural (86%). Only 8% believe drinking soda is a healthier option than drinking tea.

Seventy-three percent of Buzz panel respondents either like (32%) or love (41%) iced tea and 59% drink it weekly with 78% reporting they enjoyed a glass in the past couple of weeks. A few are indifferent but almost no one in America dislikes iced tea. In restaurants 7 of the last 10 “away from home” iced tea orders were enjoyed with food, explains Buckner, citing the Datassential survey results. In restaurants 34% of consumers label tea their “go-to beverage” and consider it the “best fit” with fried foods, protein entrees, and Mexican food. Respondents also say iced tea goes well with spicy foods, burgers, pasta, sandwiches, Asian food, soup, salad, and barbecue.

Lunch, mid-afternoon, and dinner are the preferred times to drink tea.

It is no wonder then that iced teas now appear on 47% of quick serve restaurant menus and 74% of all menus. What do consumers hope to see added to these menus: flavored iced teas are favored by 53% of respondents followed by iced tea blends (45%) and artisan/hand-crafted tea (42%) along with sparkling iced tea (37%) and tea cocktails (36%). These preferences are even more pronounced with millennials who favor flavored iced teas (62%) want more iced tea blends (55%) and artisan teas (54%) and sparkling tea (47%) and tea cocktails (51%), observes Buckner.

“Tea is an expanding proposition on menus, both hot and cold, helping to fill the void left by those fleeing from carbonated beverages,” shares Jodie Minotto, Mintel’s senior global food trends analyst in Sydney Australia. She said the number of US menus that mention tea was up 4% between Q2 2015 and Q2 2016 according to Coffee and Tea – US (November 2016). “Tea is a key beverage in fine dining restaurants. Tea menu incidence was up 11% in that segment in the past year, while menuing of tea drinks increased in quick service restaurants by 7%,” she said.

Organic is nice but not essential

In 2013, Smashburger the 370-store deluxe burger chain, switched to organic, fresh brewed, fair trade certified teas made by Honest Tea, a pioneer in bottled organic beverages. Two years later the 6,503-location Wendy’s became the first national fast-food chain to offer organic tea when the company rolled out a tropical flavored green tea, exclusively formulated by Coca-Cola owned Honest Tea.

Sophisticated specialty teas in bottles, such as Numi Pu’er, Ito En sencha, Harney & Sons, and Republic of Tea Darjeeling and tea pouches from China Mist, Choice Organic Tea, Art of Tea, Rishi Tea, Davidson’s, Celestial Seasons, and Yogi have found their way into restaurants.

In May 2015 Mintel International found that 70% of consumers believe organics are a healthier option with nearly three in five millennials reporting the purchase of an organic food or beverage in the previous three months. Tea contains flavonoids, no sodium or fat and it pairs well with a number of natural and organic ingredients.

The Datassentials research showed that 69% of tea drinkers would pay extra for organic iced tea. Organic beverages now appear on 12% of restaurant menus, according to Datassential. The greatest growth is in juices, organic liquor, and tea.

Flavor makes a difference

Citrus remains the top taste preference. Lemon is considered an ingredient and not a flavor but few consumers draw that distinction.

Consumers told Datassentials they prefer flavored tea (53%) – not tea that is flavored with syrups. The exceptions are chai and tea lattes like those popularized by Argo Tea (Chai Teappuccino) and Starbucks/Teavana. Respondents said that tea should be moderately sweetened (48%) or lightly sweetened (45%) with either sugar (59%) or honey (36%). Artificial sweeteners and stevia and agave (both natural sweeteners) rank in the 20 percentiles.

Black tea is by far the most important base. In the Datassentials survey 39% prefer black tea and 26% prefer green with almost 25% indicating no special preference.

Lemon, (menu penetration 100%), raspberry (menu penetration 41.1%), peach (menu penetration 32.1%), and sweet teas predominate with berry, strawberry, mint, and tropical about half as likely to appear on the menu. Millennials drive sales of organic, herbal, blueberry, blackberry, pomegranate, kiwi, and Thai teas. Top sellers in green include tropical (citrus-mango-coconut), honey-flavored green teas, and some outliers like lychee, ginger, red bean, jasmine, and hibiscus all of which are showing high growth from a small base. Teas mixed with traditional and flavored lemonade (including some with hard lemonade) are also trending. Innovation is welcome.

Sonic Drive-In bills itself as the “ultimate iced tea stop” with 1.3 million flavor combinations. The latest: pomegranate hibiscus or black cherry frozen sweet tea. “We want to help tea lovers rediscover their favorite drink,” says Scott Uehlein, vp of product innovation at Sonic which operates 3,557 stores. “Whether a frozen clubhouse calls your name or you’re more of a black cherry iced tea type, you can throw yourself a tea party like never before.”

Concentrates and refrigerated teas

Red Diamond is one of the largest tea concentrate brewers in North America. S&D is a major supplier. Other well-known concentrate suppliers include BW Cooper, Lipton, Revoltion Tea, Pickwick, Mother Parkers, and China Mist.

The format is favored by large volume chains. Concentrates are portable, easy to store, require less preparation time, generate less waste and most important — they deliver consistent product. “Bagless tea” in foodservice sized containers (bag-inbox or bottles) are used to prepare hot or cold tea in on-demand single-serve or high volume banquet settings. Concentrates are popular in hotels, resorts, catering and behind the counter at fastfood locations.

During the past few years sales of Argo Teas made without preservatives, artificial flavors or colors have grown to $25 million, accounting for half the company’s revenue. Refrigerated teas grew 9.2% in grocery in 2016 with Red Diamond, Turkey Hill and Gold Peak performing well in both RTD and refrigerated categories. Gold Peak and FUZE tea both exceeded $1 billion sales in 2015.

Table service

Tearooms have always brewed fresh tea, usually with the active involvement of consumers who monitor steep time and color in the cup. A few years ago Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf began offering a pot of loose leaf tea with pastry. Baristas brought to seated customers at these Southern California shops a tray complete with timer and laminated card describing the tea’s origin, characteristics, and ideal steep time. Tea sales as a percentage of beverage sales nearly doubled to 20% at these shops.

Starbucks experienced even more spectacular results when it introduced “shaken” Teavana iced teas. The premium teas tasted better, according to customers who said they liked the “craft” touch. Teavana handcrafted beverages and full leaf tea sachets lifted sales across the breadth of the company’s 12,000 US coffee shops. In 2015, Starbucks grew its tea business 12% across all tea categories, posting an unusually strong 29% in iced teas sales at a time when tea sales overall are growing 4% nationally. The company is now heavily pushing its teas in Asia where 6,200 stores began serving Teavana shaken teas this fall.

In July 2015 Mighty Leaf Tea was added to the nationwide menu at Peet’s Coffee & Tea. “The marrying of Mighty Leaf Tea into its menu mix is a masterstroke, bringing two brands with independent heritages and reputations for uncompromising quality together,” writes Package Facts research analyst Daniel Granderson in Foodservice Tea Market Trends in the US (2015).

“The (Mighty Leaf) teas are all natural, flavor-forward, and fresh brewed in small batches every day while the iced tea infusions are handcrafted using lemonade or limeade with hints of mint, tropical fruits, and berries,” writes Granderson.

Premium prediction

As consumers scale the ladder from mundane to magnificent is it possible a premium bottled iced tea could find a place at the table? Will restaurants ever chill the satisfying flavor of some of the world’s most distinctive teas?

The biggest obstacles are price and chemistry.

Orthodox style, hand processed teas take only the fresh new shoots of the plant (typically the unfurled leaf bud and the next two leaves), which tend to have higher concentrations of polyphenols, explains Scott Svihula in an article titled Restaurants & Fresh Brewed Iced Tea. The polyphenols, including EGCg, react with calcium and magnesium in the water (which are needed for the extraction process) to form insoluble salts. When refrigerated these cloud the tea and degrade the taste, affecting mouth feel and color and reducing its health benefits.

“So, the better the quality of the tea, the greater the potential chemical change,” writes Svihula, a consultant at Hula Consulting. He said Sri Lankan, southern Chinese and Nilgiri teas from India produce lovely black and green teas that taste great over ice. Keemun has long been a favorite in the West but its distinctive flavor in the Irish and English breakfast blends is nestled amid the Assam teas (chosen for their tannin) and Kenyan teas known for the color.

Flavored teas predominate in the iced tea category in part because the base teas from Argentina are cultivated for their coppery color and brisk taste of tannin without clouding polyphenols. These machine-harvested blacks make great iced teas but do not show well in hot tea competitions.

“Restaurants currently offering premium quality iced teas, some using single-origin teas include Noodles & Company, Cafe Rio: Mexican Grill, Grimaldis Pizza in New York, The Yard Steakhouse, and Kona Grill. They range from fast food to full-service, said Svihula. Suppliers of premium iced teas include Art of Tea in Los Angeles and Walter’s Bay in Texas.

He advises restaurants to mind their chemistry. “Make sure both the brewing water and water for ice are filtered. Most restaurants steep a 1.5 concentrate and dilute with line-temperature water before pouring over ice. Others brew the tea double strength and pour the tea over a column of ice. Fresh brewed, flash chilled teas show off the flavor of the tea, he said.

Gabrielle Jammal: Tea Sommelier at New York’s Baccarat Hotel

How This Millennial Turned A Hobby Into A Travel Career

By Laura Begley Bloom, Oct. 13, 2016women-at-forbes

gabrielle-jamalThe Grand Salon of the Baccarat Hotel in Midtown Manhattan feels like a modern version of Versailles, with its mirrored walls, lavish chandeliers and jewel-box displays of intricate crystal sculptures. It’s a magical settingworthy of Marie Antoinette. When 28-year-old Gabrielle Jammal was hosting little tea parties for her dolls in her suburban New Jersey home, she had no idea that some day she would be working in a glamorous place like this and jetting around the globe to sample rare blends of tea. But that’s just what her life is like these days as the tea sommelier at this hotel just off Fifth Avenue.

With finely honed tea chops that would rival any wine sommelier, Jammal’s background combines English and Middle Eastern roots, a perfect pedigree for this line of work. Here, she talks about what it takes to turn a passion for a subject like tea into a travel career.

Baccarat Hotel NYC

The Grand Salon of the Baccarat Hotel. (Courtesy of the Baccarat Hotel)

 Laura Begley Bloom: How did you get here?

Gabrielle Jammal: Tea has always been in my life. It makes me happy and just makes everything better.  I grew up drinking tea with my family. My mother told me she used to play tea party with me and my dolls when I was little. If that doesn’t make you feel warm and fuzzy all over, then nothing will. As I got older, I became interested in health, wellness and organic living. Ten years ago I started working in tea; I love the way it makes people feel.

Begley Bloom: Do you feel like Eloise at the Plaza?

Jammal: I feel more like a mother hen watching over her nest. During tea time, I like to know everything that’s going on, interact with everyone and ensure that our guests leave saying to themselves, “Wow, that was really special.”

Begley Bloom: What does it take to become a tea sommelier?

Jammal: It takes constant education and the desire for learning because the tea world is always changing and you can never know enough. I am certified with the International Tea Masters Association. In terms of learning and certification, I am cautiously optimistic that the world is starting to catch up with the wine world when it comes to accredited standardization.

Begley Bloom: What’s the difference between a tea sommelier and a wine sommelier?

Jammal: The biggest similarity is that both roles require you to be extremely knowledgeable about your subject. The biggest difference is that right now in the tea world, there is not as much standardization with regard to levels of expertise as there is in the wine industry.

Begley Bloom: Are there any other tea sommeliers that inspired you?

Jammal: Christopher Day at Eleven Madison Park completely changed the way people see tea as part of the dining experience. Sebastian Beckwith, who started In Pursuit of Tea, and Kevin Gascoyne from Camillia Sinensis are also huge inspirations. They are changing the way people buy and consume tea, and they continue to have a big impact on me. Oh, and I almost forgot to mention Beyonce — she is an inspiration, because every woman wants to be fierce like that!

Tea for two

Tea for two at the Baccarat Hotel. (Courtesy of the Baccarat Hotel)

Begley Bloom: Where do you travel for inspiration?

Jammal: I am lucky enough to live in a city where people fly across the world just to enjoy a long weekend here. I get inspired every day I walk out my door. But I’m also always traveling for inspiration. I recently went to Southern California, as well as Canada, where I studied with some of the world’s top tea masters. No matter where I go, I always travel with my own personal tea stash.

Begley Bloom: How do tea and travel relate?

Jammal: Tea is very special because it is at the heart of most cultures. You will find it anywhere in the world. The top three tea travel destinations on my list are Darjeeling, Kyoto and Taiwan.

Begley Bloom: Any exciting tea surprises in store?

Jammal: I am working with Emily, our lead bartender, on tea-infused cocktails. I’m also debuting a Tsar Nicholas afternoon tea service that will feature caviar and champagne for two, prepared and presented in a way that you haven’t seen anywhere else.

Begley Bloom: Are you creating house blends?

Jammal: Mariage Frères from Paris created a Melange Rouge house blend for the hotel. It’s a delicious rooibos tea from South Africa that is “Baccarat” red in color.

Begley Bloom: What is your favorite kind of tea?

Jammal: It depends on my mood. Currently I’m obsessed with a first flush Darjeeling from the Glenburn Estate. I also love oolongs.

Afternoon Tea

Treats during afternoon tea at the Baccarat Hotel. (Courtesy of the Baccarat Hotel)

Begley Bloom: What is your favorite tea recipe? 

Jammal: I love to use matcha in everything. Baking, seasoning fish, in smoothies… it’s so versatile. Currently, we have a vodka cocktail on our menu, shaken with matcha, yuzu and cucumber. I also love a hot toddy with tea on a cold winter day.

Begley Bloom: What’s your advice for other women who want to get into this career?

Jammal: Be passionate, have humility — and follow your heart. It may sound silly, but it isn’t always so easy!

Latest Rankings of Tea Education Web Sites


How popular are the major tea education web sites?

Alexa offers traffic metrics across the worldwide web, a valuable source for competitive intelligence and strategic analysis.  The rankings reflect why the International Tea Masters Association is generating 80,000 Unique Visitors to its web site this year and why it is the Gold Standard in tea education.

Alexa Global Ranking of Major Tea Education Web Sites
(Ranking as of August 30, 2016)

1. International Tea Masters Association 3,646,241
2. World Tea Academy 4,459,070
3. Australian Tea Masters Association 4,819,550
4. El Club del Te 5,427,435
5. Tea Association of the USA 8,253,708
6. International Tea Education Institute 11,476,559
7. Escuela Argentina de Té 11,643,294
8. Specialty Tea Institute 13,091,429
9. International Tea Academy 21,876,679