August 19, 2013

What are you going to be? A Tea Sommelier!...Why?

    Back in October 2011 It had been about a year since I had finished at OCAD U and a year at Teaopia. All of my family over Thanksgiving dinner asked me what I wanted to do now that I had a years experience in the "real world".
      There are so many movies on people my age trying to find out what they want to do. So, instead of finding something else I stuck with tea. That same fall I had joined The Tea Guild of Canada and felt I had a found a long-lost family. Ian from Majesteas urged me to join the board, and I am still with them today. At Teaopia I continued to meet great people at the store in the financial district here in Toronto. Two regulars even joined the Tea Guild the following year.
        February 2012, My co-worker joined The Tea Guild , she turned to me latter that month and proposed we take classes together. Not just any classes, but The Tea Sommelier Program. I had been advised to take them for over a year before but did not know how to go about it.  So I learned how to and began to strengthen my knowledge of tea.After the first class she found she had to move her focus on work and I kept on going with the classes. I even started taking Japanese Tea Ceremony classes during that year.  I let my family know my new focus was to become certified and keep working with tea. At the time it was with Teavana, where I learned how to manage and teach the great staff we had at our stores.
      Fast forwarding to now, I have finished my certification. I am still hearing these questions from family and friends.
What does it mean to "be a Tea Sommelier"?
             In response to this I created the video below to help  you out. Feel free to comment or e-mail me any questions you may have (ps. My website is now up, you can find my e-mail in the contact section at ). I absolutely love questions so at anytime you want a question answered, send it my way, Thank you all.

Shout out to Ian at Majesteas, Tao at Tao Tea Leaf, Carol Savage and the rest of the Tea Guild. I would not be who I am today without you. Thank you so much for supporting me and I hope we can continue to support each other in the future.


  1. Hi there, thanks for the info. I am planning on doing the Tea Sommelier course via the Tea Association of Canada. I would like to know if you did the on line version, checking in via Skype with the tutor weekly etc. I believe the final exams are in person. If so, how much time did you feel you needed to devote to it in the week (how intensive is it?) did it include info. and support on setting up a tea retail / café business afterwards? Many thanks for the info. and blog! Tamara

  2. Tamara- I did the program at George Brown College as the online version was not devloped yet when I started. When I did the program it did not cover things like starting up your own shop, but I spoke to my professor and there is a new section that was added. It's called "Buisness of tea" I don't know too much about this class myself. I would suggest you contact TAC to see the details.
    For during the program, I made it my mission to try as many teas as possible. I went out to events in the city by shops (like Tao Tea Leaf and Majesteas) and tried many at home. This included reading any books I could get my hands on and built up a great library from this.
    As for the exam itself, I am studying to take it this Thursday morning. Again, it's trying teas and comparing it to others. While tasting make sure you can tell the difference between them especially for teas like Golden Yunnan and Golden Assam. Reading over notes and getting together with classmates for extra study has helped too. As a blogger I also committed to reviewing a selection of teas which will also help my studies ( these will be up soon!).
    So I highly suggest reading and tasting many many teas as you progress through your journey with tea. Don't be afraid to try something new, jump in and enjoy the ride.

    If you have any further questions please feel free to e-mail me at bellmanart [at} if you are in Toronto I would love to meet with you over tea, if you are free.


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