Tina Dettman-Bielefeldt interviewed me last week for this article. I really appreciate the time she took and I really think she got the heart of my business. Minor inaccuracies like the potential partnership with another friend in Madison was before I opened my teahouse in Milwaukee, but I see that as a minor thing. Things are picking up in my business and hopefully continue. We shall see. I do not want to seem too presumptuous.
I am proud of the tea education I received from the Specialty Tea Insitute (STI) in New York City. I became a certified tea specialist in 2009 and am the only one with this designation in Wisconsin. There have been a few minor changes, but what I am more amazed is how the foundation of my education is still relevant and even more relevant nowadays.
I have taught at least four Tea 101 classes or basic tea education classes. Most of the information in these classes were from my Foundation Level 1 class with maybe a little from the Foundation Level 2 class. I continued my education with the Professional Series and graduated from the Level 3, making me a certified tea specialist (not my designated, but STI’s designation). There are five classes with at least one class lasting two days to graduate with my designation. All the classes, even the Foundation 1 and 2 were 8-hour classes with the Professional Black Teas class being two 8-hour days. In each Professional class, we tried between 30-40 loose leaf teas with the Black Teas class at least double because of it being two days. The Professional Cupping class I do not remember how many teas we tried, but that class was specially taught to teach us proper cupping techniques and to develop our palate, so it was probably closer to the amount of our Black Tea class. All tea used during my education were loose leaf teas. I also took a Level 4 Class the Technology of Tea would love to take all of the Level 4 classes.
There is a lot of misinformation on the internet we all know this. I am not saying that there is not good information too, but a lot of self-appointed “tea experts” base their qualifications because they read it on the internet. Not on years of experience and not on knowledge from the industry leaders teaching you. The reason I address this is I have noticed some people coming to my classes with misinformation they learned from “tea experts”. My question is without a solid foundation how can someone detect if an article is faulty? Especially someone who cannot even give correct information on the basics? How can they even consider themselves a tea expert? I do not consider myself an expert and I have been trained by the world’s best. I consider myself a certified tea specialist because STI has given me this designation and I earned it by taking classes for years. You cannot quick read a few articles on the internet and practice law or even be a librarian. My sister is a librarian and you need your masters.