This year Wild Tea Qi’s JT Hunter and Shana Zhang presented the International Tea Academy’s Tea Sommelier Certification school in Puer, Yunnan, China that finished on May 21st.
It was a total of 4 days of intense tea training, 2 days for the tea sommelier course and an extra 2 days of tea plantation, tea production and tea business study. We conducted the training at a special tea hotel right on the tea plantations in the heart of tea country, Puer, Yunnan Province.
This was most definitely the best place we have conducted training ever because the facilities were outstanding. As you enter the resort grounds, you drive up a mountain surrounded by lush, green eco tea gardens. The smell permeates your nostrils. We had a fantastic conference room and several beautiful places to brew tea.
Day 1: The Tea Sommelier training with some tea history that even many tea historians don’t know. Shana demonstrated traditional Japanese tea ceremony in the morning and traditional Chinese tea ceremony in the afternoon. Shana has already undergone a thorough, professional training in Japanese and Chinese tea ceremony. Students got to try these ceremonies, and they realized how intricate each ceremony is.
Day 2: The students got to learn the basics of blending teas, professional tea evaluation, taste testing and more. They learned how to distinguish factory teas from hand picked; artisan teas, which became quite, clear once they saw the difference. They learned how to do flavor profiling to “T”, no pun intended. They got to see how a professional tea trader judges which factory or farmer to purchase from and how to avoid getting scammed by old factory tricks.
Day 3: The students were taken to the tea plantations and taught how to pick different kinds of teas. For example they learned that to make a good certain type of black tea you pick two leaves and a bud and only pick the young and tender ones. After sometime picking tea on the organic tea plantation we had a contest who could pick the most tea. A highlight was when one student slipped a rock into his basket to trick us into thinking he picked more than he had. We all had a good laugh. After this was done, we went straight to the factory to learn how to process our tea. The group mutually agreed to produce green tea from their leaves. Everyone got to dry fry the tea leaves we had picked in a big wok. Then we went through each processing stage together. We had a break for lunch while the tea sat for a bit for the final process. When we came back the tea was ready to drink. The tea was a bit bitter, we thus realized how difficult it really is to produce a tasty tea. Not as easy as people might think.
Day 4: The last day was spent going deep into the depths of the tea business. Shana and JT revealed a map of the entire tea industry and exactly how it worked. The students were surprised by the cycle of the tea industry and how it works. Shana and JT revealed secrets of the tea industry they won’t post on any blog or book, so it was a special occasion for the students to gain this invaluable insight into the tea industry.
All in all it was the best tea course we have conducted yet and we are even more excited about the next one, which will include a special tea hunting trip to the ancient tea tree forests of Yunnan.
Don’t forget the next date of our Tea Sommelier Certification Course in China October in Puer, Yunnan.