It started with liking tea, then wanting to try more tea types, then needing to try everything that exists, then craving to learn everything there is to know about tea. This is my story and many others’ too. For whatever reason you ended up here wanting to learn about tea, I welcome you to this amazing journey!
My craving to learn about tea came from a deep passion for the beverage and feeling restless about getting to know it better. I got certified as a Tea Sommelier but my craving for learning more didn’t stop there, it actually opened up my eyes even more, and after learning what I felt was only the tip of the iceberg (‘the more you know, the less you know’), I kept exploring on my own and promise to never stop learning.
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Lots of people ask me where and how to learn about tea, and if getting a certification is worth it. So I put together a big list of resources to explore and learn on your own. My experience is that you don’t need a certification to become a tea expert, and you don’t need to spend a lot of money on courses either (I know lots of people who are not certified and know sooooo much more than others who are). Instead, I would recommend to buy many teas, books, and attend a few workshops, but mostly try to get the most out of the many free online resources available.
I hope this list brings you inspiration, busy hours and lots of learning. It is divided by resource type and you can jump right into each from the index:
1.- The Story of Tea
This was my first tea book and it’s a great introductory one. In the words of another reviewer “… it is a great step in the journey of tea knowledge. It’s pretty in-depth while covering a broad spectrum of subjects related to tea. It gives a somewhat brief explanation of some of the major tea varieties and explains the different cultivars and their origins.”
2.- The Tea Drinker’s Handbook
A great book to learn about tea. It is basically divided into 3 sections. The first is everything about tea, from bush, harvesting, pluckings, etc. The second section focuses on tasting and the third is an encyclopedia-type of ‘the world’s 50 best teas’.
3.- Tea: History, Terroirs, Varieties
This might be one of the most recommended tea education books overall (it was on the recommended reads from my THAC course). It is very comprehensive and has gorgeous photography.
4.- The Tea Book
Probably one of my most recommended books for absolute beginners who want to get into tea. Easy to read, has lots of illustrations and is a good first approach to the world of tea. Linda did a great job with it and it’s currently one of the top seller tea education books on amazon.
5.- Tea Sommelier
“A fun and simple approach to becoming a tea expert, from the founders of the international tea brand Palais des Thés”.
6.- Japanese Tea: A Comprehensive Guide
A great book to get deeper into Japanese culture and tea.
7.- Puer Tea: Ancient Caravans and Urban Chic (Culture, Place, and Nature)
This book is the perfect way to to learn about pu-erh. This is on the top of many people’s lists.
8.- Find even more tea books in my Amazon shop.
9.- Magazine: Tea Journey
A great online tea publication. Great source of articles and a wide variety of topics within tea.
10.- Magazine: Global Tea Hut
Another amazing resource and perfect for those of us who like to build a tea library. They have a physical and digital edition. You can read online their past issues for free.
11.- Magazine: Eighty Degrees
Independent magazine about the culture of tea. It has beautiful photography and great articles.
12.- Patreon: Being Tea
My favorite tea educator is Suzette Hammond. I’ve had the chance to participate in some of her live workshops because she’s a fellow Chicagoan and know for a fact she is very knowledgeable and passionate about teaching. Since I found out about her Patreon, I’ve been a member and recommend it to everyone.
13.- Youtube: Mei Leaf
This is one of my favorite tea education youtube channels. Don does an amazing job of sharing his knowledge about tea in a very entertaining way. He’s captivating and his videos are very approachable. He has divided his channel into several playlists where you’ll find tea classes, reviews, recipes, tea conversations, how-to videos, and many more. Definitely subscribe worthy!
14.- Youtube: Tea DB
These guys have been drinking tea, chatting, and making videos since 2013. They taste teas and talk about them- it’s definitely a great way to learn, especially if you have or buy some of the teas that they’re having and drink along them.
15.- Patreon: Jeffrey McIntosh
If you want to learn more about pu-erh or if you are a pu-erh enthusiast, consider becoming a patreon.
16.- Youtube: Lazy Literatus
Geoff is one of my tea friends and one of the most entertaining tea writers out there. In his channel, he talks about specific teas while he tastes them. Also, he has a great blog and did a podcast in the past. I love his writing style because he has a characteristic tone and voice that keeps you engaged and you learn a lot.
17.- Youtube: Verdant Tea
They aim to make Chinese tea culture approachable through videos about tea ceremonies, teaware, and artisan-crafted teas.
18.- Youtube: Tea Curious
Rie does live tea sessions and keeps the recordings on her youtube channel. She is so nice, funny and knowledgeable and you can get so much information out of her tea practices.
19.- Youtube: Tea House Ghost
Learn all about Gong Fu Cha, the Chinese art of making and serving tea in this dedicated channel.
20.- Youtube: Farmerleaf
William and Yubai own a tea garden where they harvests, and processes pu-erh tea. Their videos are right at origin and very educational.
Honestly, there is no better way to learn about tea than actually drinking it and trying as many different tea types as you can.
Experiment with different brewing techniques, teaware, steeping times, and temperatures. You’ll see what oversteeping or understeeping does to a certain tea, you’ll test a tea’s quality with boiling water, you’ll try the good and the bad. This way, you’ll learn the most and train your palate to distinguish and appreciate quality, subtle notes, textures, bodies, etc. If you do this next to tasting videos and reviews you can get even more out of the experience by comparing with someone else’s notes.
Get some sampler sets and do comparative, side-by-side tastings, and try more teas in smaller quantities to see what you like. Some sampler sets for educational purposes that I recommend are:
21.- Darjeeling Black Tea Sampler
This 33 piece set offers black teas from the Darjeeling region from different estates, including first and second flush, and some autumn harvest too. Can’t think of a better way to learn about this region.
22.- Samplers by Regions
Masters Teas by Adagio, has premium teas and offers sample sets by regions. A great way to learn about tea regions though tasting.
23.- Masala Chai Tea Sampler
Check out this amazing Masala Chai sampler set if you’d like to get deeper into this traditional Indian beverage.
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24.- Matcha Tasting Set
One of my favorite Matcha brands offers a sample set with 3 different types of Matcha from Uji.
25.- Pu-erh Sampler Sets
Learn by tasting these curated sets by Mansa Tea and follow their guide to get the most out of this experience.
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26.- Curated Tea Samplers
Yunnan Sourcing offers a large selection of tea samplers by regions, harvest seasons and by years. Definitely worth checking out.
RELATED: Best Tea Subscriptions
Blogs and Websites
This category is huge and there are so many amazing tea blogs out there that offer everything from general information catered to an absolute beginner, to deep knowledge and geeky facts and info for those who want to dive deep.
I’ve personally met many of these bloggers at tea festivals and meetings and enjoy learning from them. One of my favorite things about tea is the community that forms around it and how everyone is willing to share their knowledge, experiences, and obviously a cuppa (or plenty!).
27.- Tea for me Please
Nicole is one of my favorite tea people, she is very knowledgeable and has been blogging for a while. She won the 2018 World Tea Award for Best Tea Blog. I love that her blog is a true representation of her journey, how she has grown and gotten deeper into tea. She has a great starting page for beginners where she offers an educational path, many articles that will expand your knowledge, extensive reviews on teas, and weekly round-ups about the best tea articles from the industry. A MUST.
28.- Tea happiness
Another amazing blog from a dear tea friend. Sara is another one of my favorite tea people and her blog is such a good resource. She often writes about all things related to tea history, interviews industry members, and also reviews teas. She also takes beautiful and inspiring tea photos and posts them on Instagram.
29.- My Japanese Tea
Although I haven’t met him personally, other tea bloggers speak very highly of him. Ricardo is very knowledgeable on Japanese teas and his blog is an excellent source of information if you want to dive deep into Japanese teas.
30.- The Teacup of Life
Lu Ann is an great writer (she even has a published book- Teaspiration) and such a friendly person. Her blog is great for beginners who are just starting and for those who want to explore more. She has educational posts, recipes, crafts and has several tea reviews too.
31.- Steapd Tea
Marco is another one of my tea friends who is a blogger and a tea lover. He is very active on Instagram and loves connecting with people and sharing tea with them. He does amazing tasting reviews and he even pairs tea with music!
32.- T Ching
One of the largest tea blogs with over 3,500 articles written by over 100 contributors. It is a tea information and educational website and won the 2017 World Tea Award for Best Tea Blog. Articles are categorized and catered from beginners to experienced tea drinkers.
Wikipedia for Tea. The best place to go for a quick reference.
34.- Tea Class by Adagio
A great resource for beginners to follow a learning path about the basics of tea.
35.- Other favorite tea blogs that cover different topics are Tea Thoughts (various tea topics + sells tea themed things!), Tea in Spoons (she has reviews for soooooo many teas, an amazing resource and library), Oh How Civilized (great for beginners and has delicious recipes too), Tea and Me Blog (tea reviews), The Devotea (funny, witty and into geekier tea things), Tea in the Ancient World (articles and tea reviews for getting deep deep deeeeep).
36.- Facebook Page : Tea Epicure
Great tea reviews and tasting notes from the knowledgeable tea head and author of 2 books, Tony Gebely.
37.- Podcast: Talking Tea
The best (and one of the few) active general tea podcasts around. Its goal is to raise awareness of tea and tea culture. Ken is a professional voice over and audiobook narrator, so it’s really nice to listen to. In every episode, he interviews someone from the industry to talk about different aspects of tea.
38.- Tea Sommelier Certification: Tea and Herbal Association of Canada
This is where I got my certification. I loved this program because it was taught live, although now it’s pre-recorded but you get a live Q&A session per module. For each module, they send you teas and guide you through tastings.
39.- Certification: ITEI
I know of some people who have taken this certification and recommend it. They say it’s very comprehensive and it is probably best for people looking to work in hospitality.
40.- Facebook Group: Gong Fu Cha
A great discussion group to find information, network, and learn about the practice and the methodology of Gong Fu Cha.
I believe this list covers plenty of options on where to learn about tea. From a beginner to a more advanced tea drinker, you’ll become a tea expert if you really dive into it. Having said this, I can’t say enough that the most important way to learn about tea is to try tons and tons of different ones and experiment with brewing techniques.
Let me know if there are other resources you’ve liked or used in your tea journey that I missed.
I hope you enjoyed this list and please share it with others, so they can learn too!
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