World Tea Academy has awarded the Brian Keating Gratitude Scholarship to Elsa Carette. “I was so honored, touched and thrilled to receive the scholarship,” Carette said.
World Tea Academy Director Lisa Boalt Richardson said there were many strong scholarship submissions, which made narrowing the evaluation process down to one winner extremely challenging. “Donna Fellman had narrowed it down to four submissions and I chose Elsa,” said Boalt Richardson. “Her submission showed such passion for the tea industry, which she has already worked in, and we loved her vision and goals for what she wants to do in the future and how she would like to give back.”
Carette, who currently works for Brooklyn, New York-based Bushwick Tea in sales and training, has five years of tea industry experience, along with four World Tea Academy courses under her belt and feels additional tea education will support her professional goals.
Her introduction to the tea industry came about when she took a job at a tea shop in New York City’s East Village while also working as a theater actress. “That was the beginning of the passion that I wanted to make a career [in the tea industry],” said Carette. “I feel like I found in tea all of the things that I’d been looking for in theater. I feel like tea is all about community, story-telling, connecting to culture, connecting to people and sharing.”
Carette’s passion for tea inspired her to intern for three months on a tea farm in Japan called Obubu Cha En, where she worked on the farm, conducted tea tours for visitors and learned more about the tea plant and Japanese tea. She went on to work for tea wholesaler Haelssen & Lyon in its New York office before being transferred to its Hamburg, Germany office for one year.
By the time she moved to Europe, she had also taken World Tea Academy’s Core.01, Core.02, Core.03, and Core.04 courses, which cover Essentials of Camellia Sinensis, Tea Enhancements and Grading Systems, and Terroirs. “The course material is so thorough, in-depth and extensive,” said Carette. “I think part of what’s really exciting about tea is that it can be a lifelong journey of learning more and more. I’ve always felt this thirst for more tea knowledge.”
She frequently referenced course materials and notes she had written and longed to take more World Tea Academy courses, so she applied for the Brian Keating Gratitude Scholarship.
She noted that despite the prevalence of tea consumption worldwide as the most widely consumed beverage after water, “[Oftentimes] what people are consuming is really low-quality tea, the production of which doesn’t afford farmers a livable wage.”
She added that many consumers are either uninformed or misinformed about tea and unable to discern between low and high-quality teas. “As soon as you start to learn more about the history and the artistry of the people who have made it; and when you’re looking at higher quality, beautiful teas that exist, then suddenly you realize why it’s so important to keep celebrating this craft.” She feels there is a crucial need for more tea education for industry professionals and customers alike.
“The spreading of tea knowledge falls upon all of us who work in the tea industry — to take in as much knowledge as we can and to then share it as generously as it has been shared with us,” said Carette. “It’s a responsibility that falls on all of us in order to ensure the longevity of these high quality, beautiful premium teas.” She likens such teas to works of art.
Carette intends to open a tea school in Europe to educate tea and hospitality professionals, as well as those who simply love or are curious about tea, its origins, varietals and preparation.
“This scholarship felt like the perfect way to become as qualified as I possibly can be on an educational level,” said Carette, who considers the World Tea Academy to be the best tea education currently offered, describing the program as well-researched, well-thought-out, and well-taught. “It’s the training that I wish every tea professional out there could gain.”
Carette intends to use her scholarship to obtain the new Tea Aroma Expert Certification.
She also plans to organize a tea festival in Paris to create more opportunities for tea lovers to connect.
Born in Angers, France in the Maine-et-Loire valley and raised in New York, Carette currently divides her time between New York and France.