World Tea Academy Certifies 22 More Professionals; Students Share Insights

“Certification Lends a Degree of Credibility to What We Do,” Reveals One WTA Graduate

By Aaron Kiel

Cheryl Sheffield, owner of Sheffield Spice & Tea Co. in Las Vegas, Nev., is a former casino financial controller, who turned to tea for a career change. “With plenty of business experience under my belt and some retail sales jobs during college, my husband and I decided to open a spice and tea shop, not knowing how big tea would be for us.”

Sheffield says tea consumption is exploding in the United States, and she’s having a great time being a part of it with her husband. “We hope to open additional locations and help the Las Vegas valley increase their tea consumption and tea knowledge.”

Cheryl SheffieldAs a recent World Tea Academy (WTA) student, Sheffield is one of 22 graduates who became tea certified through the program (see list of graduates below). WTA is the leading online tea education and certification program (#TeaAcademy). To register or learn more, visit

Tea Knowledge + Career Enhancement
“World Tea Academy has been a huge resource for me and my business,” says Sheffield. “[In Fact,] the Academy is beneficial to anyone that wants to learn more about tea: varieties of tea, its history, health benefits, cultures, and how it’s grown and processed. Whether you are learning for your own benefit and curiosity or for a professional purpose, the information is interesting, clear and factual.”

World Tea Academy – from the organizers and creators of World Tea Expo and the North American Tea Championship – is a digital-based learning platform that incorporates robust features and creates classroom-like environments for student-to-student interaction. And in addition to the core WTA Certified Tea Specialist program, WTA offers higher-level accreditation: WTA Certified Tea Professional, WTA Certified Tea Sommelier and WTA Certified Tea Health Expert.

“The material the classes cover gave me the confidence to talk tea,” says Sheffield. “I have customers that want to learn about tea or just how to make a cup of loose leaf. All they have ever experienced were teabags, if even that. I am able to answer their questions and help them pick out a tea that fits their lifestyle or taste.”

Congratulations New WTA Graduates
A total of 22 students – representing Canada, Colombia, France, India, Italy, the United Kingdom and the United States – recently completed the core program to become WTA Certified. Those certified are listed below by certification type.

Certified Tea Specialists:

  • Maurizio Angeletti, Consultant Winemaker – Rome, Italy
  • Dhiraj AroraSecunderabad, India
  • Joan AtchisonSan Diego, Calif.
  • Josephie Dean JacksonDallas, Texas
  • Jennifer Forehand, Owner, SereniTea – Crestview, Fla.
  • Lisa B. Gardner, Owner, Specialtea Teas – Lisbon, N.Y.
  • Melissa Holt, Educator, Women’s Health Education and Resource (HER) Center Presbyterian Hospital – Albuquerque, N.M.
  • Jackie James, Managing Director, The London Tea Room – Saint Louis, Mo.
  • Susan Kilian, Owner, Kilian Tea, LLC – Ballwin, Mo.
  • Claudia LalindeMedellin, Colombia
  • Steve Lorch, CEO, Table Rock Tea Company, Ltd. – Pickens, S.C.
  • Jennifer Lorch, CFO, Table Rock Tea Company, Ltd. – Pickens, S.C.
  • Ashley McFarlaneCochrane, Alberta, Canada
  • Sabrina NiocheBishop
  • Andrew PerrymanLondon, U.K.
  • Valerie RobbinsChicago, Ill.
  • Joseph S. Roussel, Global Operations Adviser, PwC – Levallois-Perret, France
  • Cheryl Sheffield, Owner, Sheffield Spice & Tea Co. – Las Vegas, Nev.
  • Karri Nagel, MCA, SPHR, SHRM-SCP Associate Faculty, City University of Seattle – Maple Valley, WA
  • Stephanie Lemon, Owner/Manager, Symphony of Tea, LLC. – Bow, NH
  • Marzi PecenRichardson, Texas
  • Rachel Safko – Brooklyn, New York

Certified Tea Professionals:

  • Kathryn Paul, Owner, The Tea Experience – Granada Hills, Calif.
  • Ravi Pillai, Tea Quality Manager, DAVIDsTEA – Cote St Luc, Quebec, Canada

Certified Tea Sommeliers:

  • Kathryn Paul, Owner, The Tea Experience, Granada Hills, Calif.
  • Carolyn Roberts, Founder, Whimsy & Revelry – Hoboken, N.J.
  • Gina Lane, Owner of Serendipi-TEA Etiquette & Consulting / Director, Virginia Tea Society       – Virginia Beach, Virginia *Note: Gina is also a Certified Tea Professional and Health Expert
  • Andrew PerrymanLondon, U.K.
    *Note: Andrew is also a Certified Tea Professional as well

WTA Benefits The London Tea Room
Jackie JameSJackie James, a co-owner of The London Tea Room in Saint Louis, Mo. and a recent World Tea Academy graduate, found the WTA learning experience to be positive and informative. “It enabled me to really delve into the history, terroir and culture of tea, as well as gain an understanding of the foundational basics of its process from pluck to production. The regular cuppings we were required to perform were invaluable, as I found myself becoming more and more familiar with the tastes, smells and sight of many teas. My instructor Donna Fellman [the World Tea Academy director] would call this the ‘organoleptic experience.’”

According to James, the classes offered by World Tea Academy are the best way to educate and immerse oneself into the world of tea.

“As a business owner of a tea shop and cafe, I feel that it is essential to be able to provide both our retail and wholesale customers with correct, informative tea information/education,” notes James. “I believe it also shows my customers that I take tea seriously and know what I’m talking about.”

U.S. Tea Growers Get Certified
Husband and wife team Steve and Jennifer Lorch both attended World Tea Academy and were a part of the recent graduating class. Steve is CEO and Jennifer is CFO of Table Rock Tea Company, Ltd. in Pickens, S.C. Their business is one of the few emerging U.S. tea growers, and they have been growing plants from seed and cuttings since 2008. Through innovation, sustainable farming practices and creative marketing, their future plans are to establish the upstate foothills of South Carolina as “tea country” for generations to come.

Steve and Jennifer LorchBoth Steve and Jennifer say World Tea Academy is a flexible, affordable way to increase one’s knowledge-base of tea while building credibility in a profession.

“Since we are one of the few tea growers in the United States,” says Steve, “our favorite part [about World Tea Academy] was anything to do with production and manufacturing. The biological components played into that aspect nicely, since we essentially manipulate those biochemical processes to create our signature teas.”

Jennifer, who says she really liked the flexibility to complete the courses on her own time, shares, “Certification lends a degree of credibility to what we do. Our customers can appreciate that our knowledge base has merit…We are both very busy, so fitting it into our schedule was important to us. Throughout the course, we would pick up little nuggets here and there about different teas and plants that we have continued to explore further.”

Enroll in World Tea Academy

World Tea Academy classes are filled with rich content, videos, key learning points, group discussions and downloadable course materials. The curriculum covers a variety of educational topics, including: Essentials of Camellia Sinensis; Tea Enhancements and Grading Systems; Tea Terroir; Tea Cupping; Quality Systems for Product Management; Presentation and Advanced Brewing Techniques; Tea Sommelier Essentials; Advanced Herbal Teas; Health Benefits of Tea; and Blending, Flavoring & Scenting, among others.

Each week, new educational content is unlocked for enrolled students. Week One and Week Two of the Core-level program provide key learning materials and content, and Week Three focuses on professionally cupping teas. Students are shipped teas and a Cupping Lab Starter Kit that includes cupping sets, digital scale, thermometer and timer. Teas frequently sent to students for cupping exercises contain North American Tea Championship winning teas. Higher level class formats vary within each three-week session.

The Academy receives support and oversight from its Strategic Technical Advisers, all recognizable luminaries. And since launching in 2013, World Tea Academy has spanned 29 countries, six of the seven continents, six of the 10 Canadian provinces, and 34 of the 50 United States.

Student Gives Three Key Reasons to Get WTA Certified

Joseph Scudday Roussel, a U.S. national that has lived in France for 25 years, was extremely pleased with World Tea Academy. “Tea is a great way for us to reconnect with nature and enjoys its restorative powers that improve both our physical and mental well-being,” he says.

Joseph RousselRoussel, an adviser in global operations for PwC, who does some operations consulting work with tea companies, says he likes that World Tea Academy is led by a true tea professional [Donna Fellman] and supported by Strategic Technical Advisors. “I also like the independence of the World Tea Academy program – that is not associated with a specific tea company,” he says. “The course is practical and imparts immediately useable skills.”

Roussel, who took the WTA course primarily because of a personal interest in promoting tea appreciation, notes there are three reasons why he would recommend World Tea Academy to professionals and future tea professionals who are considering enrollment. “First, the quality and breadth of the materials that cover areas ranging from botany, tea processing, places of origin and tasting,” he explains. “Second, the World Tea Academy course provides the structure, pace and discipline needed to master the body of knowledge, overcoming the challenge of studying on your own. Third, the flexibility of the online course allows you to organize your study and assignments, while still maintaining a good pace.”

Roussel points out that one of his favorite parts of World Tea Academy was the practical exercises of cupping and experimenting with tea, and exchanging results/findings with other students. “You learn a lot from comparing your results from those of other students from around the globe.”

To register or learn more about the programs and upcoming class schedules, visit, call 1-800-759-0963 or email

Also of Note: To build your business and career through tea, register for World Tea on the Road in Boston, Oct. 10 -11, or Chicago, Nov. 7 – 8. Visit to sign-up today.

And Mark Your Calendar: World Tea Expo (#WorldTeaExpo and #WTE16) takes place June 15 – 17, 2016 at the Las Vegas Convention Center. See