Two of World Tea Academy’s students, Terri Allmon and Marzi Pecen, who have taken all of the courses the academy has to offer, share their reflections on how the courses have enriched them intellectually and professionally.
Both emphasized the convenience of the online courses combined with the value of being able to discuss course material with instructors.
Allmon founded her online tea business, Terri’s Teas, in 2016 and was attracted to World Tea Academy courses because they offered structure. “I felt like once I started, I didn’t want to stop taking the classes until I had all of that knowledge,” she said. “They were all really good classes and it’s information that I wouldn’t have been able to get any other way. I wasn’t able to travel out of the country to do any plantation tours.”
The formal education World Tea Academy provided created the foundation for her business practices. She wanted to be a reliable source of information for her customers, and feels the certifications have given her more credibility as a tea purveyor, “I come across as more professional because of the education I have,” said Allmon, adding that once people find out about her knowledge they go to her with their questions.
Her World Tea Academy education is also helpful when doing business with her tea importers because she knows what to look for and how to communicate with them, adding that it would also be useful for the managers and staff of tea houses and restaurants.
“I don’t think you should be in this industry without some kind of education because I think there is a risk of there being a lot of misinformation passed around,” Allmon said. “Just look at health claims, for instance.” There is a broad range of perspectives in the tea industry, including Western herbalists, Afternoon Tea establishments, and practitioners of traditional ayurvedic medicine.
World Tea Academy offers a simultaneously broad and in-depth overview of tea, including courses that delve into the chemistry of tea and tea processing.
Her next goal is to inspire the fine restaurants in Colorado Springs, Colorado, where she is based, to offer tea on the level of coffee service since noticing tea is often not given much thought. Tea would be a good revenue generator and distinguish an establishment from others, she said. “Now that Americans are drinking more tea, from a business standpoint it makes sense to me that the next step will be to cater to people who want to drink good tea.”
Allmon wants to inspire more people to be excited about tea and sees this goal as a community effort within the tea industry that will ultimately help everyone. “We should have a united front and really make tea interesting and exciting for people.”
Pecen, who had exposure to tea education prior to attending World Tea Academy, still sees value in its courses. Pecen was an instructor for the Specialty Tea Institute where she had been a student, and had taken courses at the Canadian Tea and Herbal Association. “World Tea Academy is basically another tool in my tool bag,” she said. “I can tell people which particular course they need to take and benefit and get the knowledge that they want.” People can choose the course topics that interest them, such as tea blending or tea terroir. However, she recommends the academy’s core curriculum for anyone who is starting out in the tea industry. “I think the basic core classes at World Tea Academy are obviously essential for any professional and are also a great way for aficionados to get an understanding and more enjoyment out of [tea],” said Pecen.
Pecen, who is based in Dallas, Texas, currently plans curriculum for tea shops, flavoring houses and individuals, and also does product development. She strongly believes in continuing education so people can keep their professional knowledge current.
However, she believes education is not limited to courses. “[Education] starts with the purveyors of tea who have the shops, who can converse with the customers and get them interested,” said Pecen, who feels such people are oftentimes the first ones who instill desire to learn more in customers who gain greater understanding of why they like a certain tea over another.