June 3, 2011 at 11:55 #5910
In addition to some of the other advances we plan on making to Tea Trade (and we have some really exciting things planned!) we are also looking into offering online tea certification courses.We’ve put feelers out on LinkedIn and initiated contact with the Specialty Tea Institute. The social networking software that is built in to Tea Trade can be enhanced with online education software that would allow us to offer classes taught by a real person over a period of time.In the best of all possible situations, we want to offer industry-standardized education (like the Level 1 through 3) certifications that the Specialty Tea Institute offers. The sky is the limit in this, however, because we can expand course offerings as possible.One possible goal would be to offer both consumer-level and industry-level classes about tea online. The technological foundation needed to support this expansion is mostly already in place but there is a large administrative and logistical development that needs to be done.Lots of questions about it, like suppliers, delivery of course materials, costs and prices. This should be an interesting experience putting this together.
June 4, 2011 at 20:40 #5911
I would love to be involved somehow! Be sure to keep me updated!
June 5, 2011 at 13:34 #5912
“like the Level 1 through 3”
Could you translate this for those with no background in this field? 😀
June 5, 2011 at 14:25 #5913
@xavier There are different class levels that the Specialty tea institute offers. The level 1 and 2 courses are fairly basic introductions into the specialty tea industry. The level 3 series of courses break down each kind of tea and explain more in depth about them. The level 4 courses (which are still in the works) are more science based. One learns about the chemical reactions that take place in each step of processing, and there are several more still in the works.
June 5, 2011 at 14:58 #5914
@sirwilliamoftheleaf – interesting that you mention the level 4 course as still being developed. I admit to having little knowledge about the inner workings of STI, but they’ve been around for a number of years and this is 2011. Shouldn’t advanced certification courses have been on their agenda all along?While I am seeking partnership with STI, I do often find myself being critical of them, especially when I compare them to other industry organizations. On the surface, they seem slow to act and somewhat behind the times. Look at what the milk industry did 20 years ago with the “Got milk?” campaign (and it is still popular) – the U.S. tea industry appears no where near ready to perform that kind of marketing feat. It still looks like there is a lot of modernization that needs to be done, and the longer they wait the harder it will be./rant…
June 5, 2011 at 19:37 #5915
I am also interested in your endeavor. My expertise Tea Party planning, hosting, Tea and Food Pairings and Cooking with Tea. Keep me posted on your needs and progress.ThanksJopj
June 6, 2011 at 15:29 #5916
I don’t know much about STI.
Are there any other professional organisations like this one?
June 6, 2011 at 19:53 #5917
The Tea Masters Association is another organization, but they do not have the respect that the STI does within the tea industry.
June 6, 2011 at 22:30 #5918
Tea Masters seems very proprietary, even more so than STI, as well as heavily Asian influenced, which limits its marketability in the US.As the tea school program develops, there may be room for more specialized classes of that sort, but in the beginning offering standardized, basic and industry focused classes is important.The evolution of tea classes may even include the ability to offer classes in specialties like @jopj has mentioned.
June 6, 2011 at 22:32 #5919
The one thing about Tea Masters is that they are an online organization, so reading up on their strategy and teaching methods may be useful in creating the basis for an online STI course, perhaps..?
June 6, 2011 at 22:50 #5920
June 8, 2011 at 10:18 #5921
The American Tea Masters Association is an internationally recognized, membership-based organization founded to provide Mastery Level training, education, and professional certification to individuals desiring to become tea masters and tea sommeliers.
The association is respected as meeting superior educational standards by offering its Tea Mastery Certification Course™ for achieving the prestigious Certified Tea Master™ designation upon completion of the coursework.
The association offers two types of training: one is on-site in San Diego, California; the other is online using Skype and webcams.
June 10, 2011 at 20:23 #5922
@Chas.kroll glad to see you here, especially since you have the inside scoop on the Tea Masters.@sirwilliamoftheleaf, I saw that Chris Bourgea was certified by Tea Master, in fact Chas, you may remember him. Will did you and Chris ever sit and talk about you experiences with your respective certification group. It was be fascinating to learn more about how they compare or contrast with each other.
June 11, 2011 at 12:33 #5923
Yes me and Chris did talk about what we learned in the classes and how they were set up. We both learned the same basics for the most part, but he said that the STI goes much much more in depth about each specific kind of tea. That is expected though as the STI is a combination of different courses, whereas Tea Masters is one bulk course.
June 14, 2011 at 16:04 #5924
What do you mean by “more in depth”?
July 2, 2011 at 19:51 #5925
Interesting conversation. I’m very familiar with the various training programs out there, both formal certifications and otherwise. A few thoughts:
1. Only so much of what “really matters” in tea can be learned online or through a book. It’s sort of like learning to play the piano on a computer. The sensory aspect is critical both to comprehension and memory.
2. There is a big gap between what can be known about tea and what is useful depending on your focus or profession. World Tea Expo offers the best “tea business” education. STI offers the best “leaf” education. Neither is really suited for someone who wants to sell tea (for example). When we brought TeaGschwendner to the US, I found most of the books available to be sorely lacking in the concrete and concise information that was needed on the sales floor. We created TeaClass.com to include everything an employee of a high end tea shop needs to know to effectively sell tea.
3. STI does a very good job these days. It was not always the case, but they’re improving the program tremendously. The levels have been expanded based on customer interest, not because there was no original vision. It’s not really fair to compare STI which is funded ONLY through certification programs to the US dairy industry and their full time lobbyists and hundred million dollar marketing budget. 🙂 Who is it in the tea business that you think will fund an Association to do national advertising? Regardless, that would be the Tea Association, not STI.
At the end of the day, I know there is opportunity out there. I’m curious what holes you are looking to fill and who your target audience would be?
July 3, 2011 at 06:03 #5926
@Charles you are talking about books. What books are you referring to?
July 3, 2011 at 06:28 #5927
For a comprehensive work I’d recommend “The Story of Tea” (Heiss) or “The Tea Dictionary”. For a quick reference book on tea I’d recommend “The New Tea Companion” from Jane Pettigrew.
Again, the real question is what you’re looking to learn. I read all sorts of things and took STI training 7 years ago before I opened the first TeaGschwendner store in the US. The employee training manual that I wrote based on my research, while accurate, was largely irrelevant based on what the customers actually wanted to know. 🙂
We haven’t started working on it yet, but I’m hoping to publish a guide to tea that is based around Adagio’s advanced tea training for our own staff. With strong connections in the industry and brilliant people like Suzette Hammond on board (long-time tea expert for multiple companies and responsible for STI curriculum), we have the resources to create something really special.
July 3, 2011 at 13:00 #5928
That would be interesting.
July 27, 2011 at 04:33 #5929
I am also interested in the course. expertise in Tea Party Planning. please provide me updates…
August 4, 2011 at 04:52 #5931
I’m really curious about this topic, as well.Hope a lot of noise is made about any developments.
September 6, 2011 at 13:26 #5932
September 6, 2011 at 21:56 #5933
November 28, 2011 at 21:02 #5934
Any more news on this development? I talked to a few STI folks about the idea and they seemed fairly interested!
November 29, 2011 at 20:40 #5935
I still have it on the roadmap and my notes for it, but when I emailed a point of contact (taken from the STI website) about it a few months ago, I never heard anything back.They probably thought I was some kind of nutter.Right now, I’d still like to do this in some way. In fact, I have an even better understanding now about how to do this on Tea Trade than I did before and I still think Tea Trade is a good place to handle it because of the unique capabilities we have built in.It has taken a backseat to other projects (refacing Tea Trade; building Leafbucks.com). All are revenue streams for us and the online tea class room is a larger, longer-term project that is going to require active and involved support in the planning and setup phases. That and I need STI on board – it doesn’t have value unless STI is willing to grant certifications to those who complete the courses, which means STI needs to be involved in the project from the beginning.I can build the infrastructure for it; I have a deep understanding of online learning and know what it needs – but I need support and investment from other areas. It costs me time and money to build it all, and I’m willing to do it as an addition to Tea Trade, but then I need backing and support for it (and someone who is willing to manage the project as well – I could do it, but I don’t have enough hands).Tea Trade has a back-office area for project management and could be used to coordinate the different responsibilities and requirements for this, but I’ve realized that something that big needs a team to put it all together.
August 5, 2012 at 23:21 #8104
This topic came up in a recent Google+ hangout that Jackie did this week. There are others who have expressed interest in this.
Between the time of my last post and now (earlier this year) I built a prototype of how I envision the online system working. It was pretty useful and the software infrastructure has come a long way since I first thought of the idea and the prototype was pretty solid.
Some of the things that I considered and built into the prototype:
Classes are not self-paced – Yes and no, they are managed and scheduled by an instructor. In my experience, online, self-paced classes are rediculous and no credible online training scenario uses them. Classes are self-paced when all the material is put online, allowed to be viewed and the student do assignments. A better method to online learning has a start and end date with structure in between, all guided and facilitated by the instructor. This also helps improve student interaction. There should be a measure of self-pacing in that there should be no scheduled time that students should be online, but there should be due dates for assignments and interaction.
Video – If this project moves forward, a decision needs to be made about video. Prepared video lectures and presentations are easy, but live, interactive video is something to be considered, but probably avoided. Skype and Google hangouts make it easier and live video can even be built in. However, technical glitches can really hamper the learning process and a single glitch can ruin an entire lesson. Poor sound and video can really make people loose interest. If someone pays for a class, then they shouldn’t have to experience those kinds of problems. Also, there is the issue that many people have computers that are not equipped or simply don’t want to do live video interaction. Again, I point back to my experiences and training in online learning through credible institutions and have found live video interaction something to be avoided. (though this may change significantly in the industry in the next 2-3 years).
Registration – Class sizes should be capped and registration (along with payment) should be electronic and automated. This is mainly a programming issue and can be handled easily through various systems. I didn’t test this part when I built the prototype, but I researched different methods of handling it and found that building it is a matter of labor and not technical difficulty.
Teachers – This is the hardest part. The way I see this project, and I mentioned it before is that it needs buy-in from a certification agency. I want the Specialty Tea Institute (it represents the closest thing we have in the US for industry standardized training). Based on preliminary research, I strongly believe that we could build systems and create classes sophisticated enough to support their Level 1 and 2 certifications online.
Sponsors – Like at the World Tea Expo, I do feel that existing companies should sponsor the online school. This means providing tea and equipment for the classes. To ensure a quality experience for the student, the means need to be in place so that the students have all the required materials shipped to them in the week before a class begins. This would include teas, brewing equipment, booklets and pamphlets (if needed or recommended by the class content).
Of course, there is a lot more to it. I just wanted to make this update since the topic was revisited this week in conversation. It’s not a totally dead project, but 2012 has been a very busy year for me and the time I need to devote to developing a project of this nature hasn’t been there. This is also something best developed by a team of people because the amount of networking and conceptualization that needs to be done.
August 6, 2012 at 15:23 #8106
What kind of price do you foresee?
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