"If you study tea every day of your life, the day you die, you know nothing." ~Chinese Proverb
I am currently studying toward several certifications through World Tea Academy. Certifying in tea is a goal for me because I didn't grow up around tea and haven't felt completely comfortable with the subject since purchasing Red Stick Spice Company. I figured that if I'm going to sell the product, I should have some credentials.
When I started studying with the academy three years ago, I thought I'd earn a few certifications, clear up my confusion and move along. That assumption was 100% incorrect. The world of tea is vast. To understand this ancient beverage requires practice. Lots of practice.
My current certification goal is to become a Tea Sommelier. This credential requires that I complete blind tastings. On a recent blind tasting, I earned 0%. Zero. I correctly identified zero teas I tasted. Like the proverb says: I know nothing. Defeated and expecting the worst, my instructor said, "Keep tasting. Taste tea every day."
The more I learn about tea, the more I accept that I will be a perpetual student of tea. I will never be "finished" with my trainings nor earn my "final" credential.
Often when I taste, I take others along for the ride. I recently conducted a tasting with my staff. Tasting with others helps build my tea vocabulary. Listening to other experiences helps my brain expand to taste nuances I didn't notice before and understand complexities I didn't before recognize. It's also fun. And that may be the best part of all.