By Louise Roberge, President, Tea and Herbal Association of Canada
In the early 2000s, the Tea and Herbal Association of Canada (THAC) began the process of designing and offering the TEA SOMMELIER® Certification Program. There was a gap in the market and demand for a professional tea training program. While there were a number of steps in between, it began with a partnership with one college and has expanded to being offered at seven colleges across Canada, online through the Academy of Tea, and internationally.
The most important element that differentiates this program from any other is that it is the only trade supported program offering this designation. It is not a program being offered by a private company, but rather one that is backed by the Tea and Herbal Association of Canada, whose members and Board of Directors represent the global tea industry. We put this program together to provide education on tea with no agenda on promoting any particular brand or style.
The program consists of eight courses:
- TEA 101: Introduction to Tea
- TEA 102: Tea Regions of the World
- TEA 103: Tea Sensory Development
- TEA 104: Tea Types
- TEA 105: From Bush to Cup
- TEA 106: Preparation, Consumption & Health
- TEA 107: Menu Design, Food Pairing & Cooking
- TEA 108: The Business of Tea
What is a TAC TEA SOMMELIER® Professional?
A trained and knowledgeable tea professional who is well versed on all aspects of tea as it affects the consumer. They should have a thorough understanding of tea and its history, processing methods and preparation. A tea sommelier should be able to interact easily with anyone on the subject of tea and make recommendations based on their needs in an approachable and easy manner.
A TAC TEA SOMMELIER® Professional…
- Has full knowledge of tea processing methods, history and regions,
- The ability to design a comprehensive tea menu for retail or any food service environment,
- Can understand and apply the principals behind tea and food pairings,
- Can understand and articulate the tasting notes associated with different teas.
How Long Does it Take?
The course is approximately 150 hours. Each student will be required to complete and pass each course before they are eligible to participate in the final certification examination (conducted by THAC).
Upon completion of the courses, students must take a Final Certification Examination, after which they are awarded the title of Certified TAC TEA SOMMELIER® Professional.
The program offers an in depth look at the entire tea industry, and is designed for people who want to learn the basics of tea (by taking just TEA 101) or becoming fully certified.
Since launching the program online in the summer of 2013, it has been able to reach hundreds more students who would be unable to commute to one of the colleges (not only from Canada, but internationally as well). In December 2013, there were 78 fully certified, and as of January 2017 there are now 189.
You can learn more about the TEA SOMMELIER® Certification Program at www.teasommelier.com.
|CSAE President Michael Anderson (CSAE Director & President) presents Shabnam Weber (Program Author & Director of Academy of Tea) and Louise Roberge (THAC President) with an Award of Distinction for THAC’s TEA SOMMELIER® Certification Program.
CAE Case Study: The Evolution of an Online Certification Program at the Tea Association of Canada
Discover how the Tea and Herbal Association of Canada introduced and evolved their TEA SOMMELIER® Certification program from an in-class local program serving approximately 10 students per session to a global online course that reached over 500 students in 2016. The TEA SOMMELIER® Certification program was awarded a CSAE Award of Distinction in 2016.
Louise Roberge is the President of the Tea and Herbal Association of Canada, she has been working diligently to represent, protect and promote the Tea Industry in Canada for the last sixteen years. As the leader she tracks trends, disseminates information, and represents the interests of the entire industry on a broad spectrum of issues. She spearheads the industry’s educational and public relations efforts relative to communicating the many attributes of tea to consumers. Louise has a number of degrees and certifications; most recently she earned her certification as a TAC TEA SOMMELIER® Professional, offered by the Tea Association of Canada. She also holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Science from the University of Montreal, Masters of Business (MBA) from Sherbrooke University, is a Certified Association Executive (CAE), from the Canadian Society of Association Executives. Fully bilingual she understands and appreciates the diversity of tea leaders and aficionados around the world.