World Tea Expo to Offer Hands-on Tea Processing Workshop

Photo courtesy of Suzette Hammond

World Tea Expo is offering tea professionals a unique opportunity to experience what otherwise could only be found at a tea plantation. The hands-on, two-day Tea Processing skill building workshop is back in the educational conference lineup this year. Registrants will participate in every stage of tea processing while working with American-grown raw leaf material from Mississippi and Hawaii at four tea processing stations in the classroom.

The course is perfect for tea industry professionals, World Tea Academy students and others with a basic understanding of the stages of tea processing. The workshop consists of two four-hour sessions on Wednesday, June 13, and on Thursday, June 14, starting at 8:30 a.m. each day. Four instructors will teach the course: Nigel Melican, Suzette Hammond, Bill Waddington and Donna Fellman. Each instructor brings different areas of expertise and together they bring decades of tea experience.

“This class is a rare opportunity to bring a visit to country of origin to the classroom,” Hammond said. “In real time, students will experience for themselves what needs to happen to transform raw leaf into the finished teas we know and study today.”

“And this year we are bringing in more equipment and making teas that we have never attempted before in this class,” Fellman added. The course will cover each stage of tea processing for eight different teas: two green, two white, two oolongs and two black teas.

The class will examine how the interplay of terroir, the chemistry of the leaf and the chemistry of processing determine the characteristics of the final product. Melican brings his expertise in tea production and the science of tea to the class. Mistakes occurring while the tea is being processed will be examined and discussed as part of the learning experience. “It’s really more instructive to see the failures and analyze the failures than it is the successes,” said Melican. “In tea making, as in life, we often learn more by examining mistakes than in blindly accepting success.”

Waddington remarked on how few people in the tea industry experience processing tea.

“Most people in the tea business are driven by passion and curiosity about this single plant: tea. Unfortunately, the vast majority of people never get a chance to actually see it, or work with it, or feel it while it’s being oxidized,” Waddington said. “This class gives people who have never been to a tea estate the opportunity to actually see what raw tea looks like and how it develops over a 24-to-30-hour period.”

He believes the level of skill and mastery that go into producing a great tea exceed those of a winemaker and that this course will help people to understand and appreciate what goes into their teacups.

Hammond added, “The end result is a sensory experience you’ll only ever experience in that same way once.” Students will not only cup all the teas at the end of the class, they will be taking teas home.

Tea Processing – A Hands-on Experiential LabWorld Tea Expo logo
June 13-14, 8:30am – 12:30pm
Room: S232
Session Number: SB02