A Note From Your Instructor: Sheena Brady, Algonquin College

It’s a great honour to be facilitating the TEA SOMMELIER® Certification Program on behalf of the Tea and Herbal Association of Canada at Algonquin College.

Because of the THAC, I’ve developed a deep passion for tea, and this program gave me the voice and knowledge necessary to turn that passion into a thriving business.

I look forward to being able to give back to the tea appreciating community through my experience and connect with each student the way I was captivated while in the program.

Becoming a Certified TAC Tea Sommelier® Professional is exciting for so many reasons, and can lead to a successful career in hospitality and commerce. Through these classes, I intend to pair both the basics and history of tea with my own real life story in the field founding a successful tea business and through this, I hope to inspire others as well.


Upcoming Classes 

TEA 105: From Bush to Cup (Tea Garden Management)
June 4 – July 16 (1:30 pm – 4:30 pm)

TEA 108: The Business of Tea
May 16 – July 11 (7:00 – 9:00 pm)

About Sheena Brady

Sheena Brady PhotoWhat happens when you take a woman, fully immersed in the world of wine and hospitality from studying and working in New York City followed by Northern California, and introduce her to tea?

Sheena Brady did just that. She took her knowledge of terroir, and her trained palate and dove head first into the world of tea. After all, both tea and wine are heavily influenced by the changes in weather, the ground they’re grown in and the hours of sunshine they receive. Sheena is fascinated by the way everything comes together to create different types of teas all from just one plant.

Fate had her moving to Toronto to manage the city’s largest luxury hotel tea program, a library featuring over 75 premium teas sourced around the globe while working with the Tea Association of Canada which led her on an eight-month journey to become a tea sommelier. Shortly after, her business, www.teasetea.com, was born as an outlet to offer tea lovers a unique and modern tea experience. Tease Tea boasts over 40 blends curated and created in small batches for customers around the globe as well as high profile clients including Four Seasons Hotels.

However, after a decade of managing restaurants and hotels internationally, what excites Sheena most about the world of tea is it being a respected gesture of hospitality around the world for centuries. The other similarity between wine, hospitality and tea that keeps Sheena going, is similar to pairing wine & food, Sheena will pair the perfect tea to compliment any and all of your desires. Just tell her what’s on your mind.

Sheena is also a trusted On-Air “Tea Expert”, regularly engaging and educating SiriusXM Radio, CTV, Global News & Rogers TV viewers/listeners. You can view some of the interesting segments here.

Flavonoids: Did You Know?

All teas from the plant camellia sinensis contain flavonoids. In fact one third of the weight of a tea leaf is comprised of flavonoids, which are released when the tea leaves come in contact with boiling water.


Franz Eugen Köhler, Camellia sinensis, Köhler’s Medizinal-Pflanzen (1896)

Brewing your tea releases about 300 mg of flavonoids per 250 mL serving.  This makes tea a key dietary source of flavonoids. In comparison to other recommended sources, fruit juices run at about 3-50 mg flavonoids per serving. While tea is a naturally rich source of flavonoids, it is not a substitute for fruits or vegetables which provide a wide range of nutrients such as flavonoids and essential vitamins and minerals.

You suit me to a “TEA” Valentine!

Go big or go home some say… well we have a perfect gift that will make a big splash and earn you a special place in the heart of your Valentine. The Tea and Herbal Association of Canada has an internationally recognized TEA SOMMELIER® Certification Program that is available online and in-person at select colleges in Canada. TEA 101: Introduction to Tea, is a short course that makes an ideal and unique gift.



This online tea course will provide an introduction to the history of the origin of tea; you will learn how to differentiate the types of tea as well as the tea grading standards used in the industry. You will also be initiated to the basics of tea terminology and proper cupping techniques.

Course Package Includes:

  • Teas
  • One live tutorial with instructor
  • Online learning platform – “Schoology
  • Videos explaining cupping/tasting
  • Digital Course Book on learning platform

Length: 4 weeks


The online program is offered through the Academy of Tea and you can register here.

If you think that your sweeTEA would enjoy learning in person you can see a list of available courses at colleges here.


Tea for Life: January is Hot Tea Month!


Not only did we welcome in a new year on January 1st, but we ushered in the celebrations for Hot Tea Month. Canadians, from coast-to-coast, love tea and we have some suggestions for celebrating:

Drink Tea!

This one is by far the easiest and possibly the most important. Looking for guidelines on how to prepare the perfect cuppa? Visit here or watch our video.

Instagram Contest

From now until January 31, 2017, we’ll be collecting photos of yourself with friends or family enjoying the benefits of tea or an original lifestyle shot that best represents your unique relationship with tea. Get creative and start sharing today! The top three shutterbugs will win some very cool tea accessories by Breville. To learn more on how to enter visit here.

2016 Winners


Have a Tea Party!

Our country’s climate – characterized by long, cold winters – means that we’ve cultivated a tea culture that is unique in North America (industry research shows that more than 70% of all tea consumed in Canada is hot tea). So gather some friends and family together and make some tea… don’t forget to Instagram to join the contest.

Tell Us Why You Drink Tea

Visit us on one of our social media channels and tell us what tea means to you and why you drink it. We’d love to know!




Recently we had the chance to meet with some university students to listen to why they drink tea. Click here to watch the video.



Winter 2017 TEA SOMMELIER® Classes

Now is the time of year that we really start thinking about our goals for the new year, and for many, pursuing a passion makes it onto the list. If your passion is tea, registering in our TEA SOMMELIER® Certification Program is definitely list worthy!


The program is available both in-person with select colleges and online through the Academy of Tea… if you are in Italy and speak Italian then you need to speak to the Protea Academy.

Here is the list of upcoming courses:

Academy of Tea (Online)

TEA 101: Introduction to Tea (Jan 9 – 30)

TEA 102: Regions of the World (Jan 9 – Feb 13)

TEA 103: Sensory Development (Jan 9 – Feb 13)

TEA 104: Tea Types (Jan 9 – Feb 13)

TEA 107: Menu Design, Food Pairing & Cooking (Jan 9 – Feb 13)

College Courses

Algonquin College

TEA 101: Introduction to Tea (Jan 15 –Feb 5)

TEA 103: Tea Sensory Development (Feb 12 – Mar 26)

TEA 104: Tea Types (Mar 12 – Apr 23)

Fanshawe College

TEA 101: Introduction to Tea (Feb 21 – Mar 14)

TEA 107: Menu Design, Food Pairing & Cooking (Feb 23 – Mar 30)

TEA 108: The Business of Tea (Jan 5 – Feb 9)

Mohawk College

TEA 101: Introduction to Tea (Jan 13 – Feb 3)

TEA 102: Regions of the World (Feb 10 – Mar 17)

TEA 104: Tea Types (Feb 21 – Mar 28)

TEA 107: Menu Design, Food Pairing & Cooking (Jan 12 – Mar 2)

TEA 108: The Business of Tea (Feb 23 – Mar 30)

Vancouver Community College

TEA 101: Introduction to Tea (Jan 19 – Feb 9)

TEA 101: Introduction to Tea (Mar 6 – Apr 3)

TEA 105: From Bush to Cup (Feb 16 – Mar 23)

TEA 107: Menu Design, Food Pairing & Cooking (Feb 7 – Mar 21)

TEA 108: The Business of Tea (Jan 16 – Feb 27)

Niagara Community College

TEA 101: Introduction to Tea (Jan 9 – Jan 30)

TEA 102: Regions of the World (Jan 10 – Feb 14)

Looking for more information? Visit www.teasommelier.com


The Power of tea – 5 top tips on Tea and Health

1. Secret compound = flavonoids 



Did you know that the tea plant is rich in antioxidant like compounds called flavonoids? In fact tea contains 750 times more flavonoids than coffee.  Flavonoids are active dietary compounds naturally found in plants – and tea has it in abundance. A diet rich in flavonoids can protect through antioxidant activity and provide anti-inflammatory benefits as well. Tea’s positive health effects have been linked to its high flavonoid content.

2. Green = Black for health


Green and black teas (as well as white and oolong teas) come from the same plant – camellia sinensis. It’s an evergreen shrub that grows well in China, India and Kenya.  Tea farmers pluck tea leaves then dry them.  Tea leaves destined to become green tea are dried for a shorter length of time than the tea leaves that will become black tea. Researchers find that the health benefits from the tea leaves of the camellia sinensis plant are essentially the same whether they are dried to green or black teas.  Taste is the key difference between green and black teas. Remember to brew your green tea for about 3 min in 80C water, whereas black teas can be brewed at higher temperature water (100C) and a bit longer for 5 min. Enjoy!

3. What’s good for the heart is good for the brain


Heart health is one of the most studied health benefits of tea.  Researchers are finding that tea’s natural plant compounds called flavonoids have powerful health benefits that help reduce the risk of high blood pressure, which in turn helps reduce heart disease and stroke.   Tea flavonoid compounds can function as antioxidants, but researchers are finding benefits that go well beyond. While investigators are still exploring the various mechanisms by which tea flavonoids work, scientists in Australia found that regular consumption of 3 cups of black tea a day can result in significantly lower blood pressure.

4. Tea is a ZERO calorie natural beverages



Brewed tea is a simple drink made of tea leaves and water and has zero calories. No wonder it’s the second most consumed beverage around the world after water. Tea has been found to help promote weight loss in studies published in the December 2013 issue of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. Several studies suggest drinking calorie-free tea may help with weight management.[1] Preliminary research suggests that tea flavonoids help elevate metabolic rate, increase fat oxidation and improve insulin activity. Tea catechins can also provide modest shifts in metabolism that may improve weight loss and maintenance. http://www.teausa.com/teausa/images/TeaCouncil-ResearchDoc-2015.pdf

[1] http://www.teausa.com/teausa/images/TeaCouncil-ResearchDoc-2015.pdf

5. Tea keeps caffeine in check


Caffeine is a natural compound and is generally considered safe when consumed in moderation. Although tea contains some caffeine, it’s 66% less than found in an equal sized serving of coffee, but still enough to provide the cognitive benefits.  In a cup (250 ml) of tea there is about 45 mg of caffeine versus a cup of coffee which has 142 mg caffeine. Since Health Canada recommends that adults limit their caffeine intake to no more than 400 mg/day, this means you can enjoy about 8 cups tea a day OR 2 cups of coffee a day to stay within the limit. Enjoy herbal teas or decaffeinated teas if you want no caffeine in your beverages. For more information visit www.tea.ca

Now that you have the facts there is no reason not to get steeping! For details on how to brew the perfect cup click here or watch our video here.


Tea & Food Pairing… what’s this about?

Combining tea and food is not new to the culinary scene, but is something that people have been playing with as long as we have been consuming tea. If you think about pairing tea and food there are some natural duos that come to mind, favoured by many is tea and chocolate, but there are some savory pairings that are pleasantly surprising.

Some basic concepts when approaching the combination of tea and food:

  1. Match delicate tastes with delicate teas.
  2. Moderately flavoured food with unassertive should be matched with medium bodied teas.
  3. Strong teas deserve food with a strong personality.

Look for a food or tea which can enhance or support one another and enhance the experience of the two taken together.

Perfect Match Tea & Chocolate Pairing (chalkboard)

If this sounds like something that peaks your interests, we have an upcoming webinar that is more in-depth and will walk you through the complexities behind matching flavours of tea and food and give you the confidence and principles to create unique pairings like a pro.


Material covered:

  • flavour profiles of the main tea categories
  • introduction to the concept of aroma compounds as found in tea and food
  • guidelines and best practices

Take away:

  • pdf of presentation
  • holiday tea inspired recipes

This course is for:

  • Graduates of the TAC TEA SOMMELIER® Certification Program
  • Tea students
  • Culinary students
  • Cafe & restaurant owners
  • Wine & Beer enthusiasts
  • Curious minds

Presenter: Shabnam Weber

Shabnam Weber - Industry & Online InstructorBy the time Shabnam Weber was 24, the Toronto entrepreneur had opened restaurants in Bermuda and Germany. It was through her fascination with specialty tea shops across Europe that Shabnam decided to establish her own tea shop when she returned home to Toronto.

She is a big believer in tea education and has committed many years to the development of a variety of courses to further the knowledge of consumers and industry alike. Using her passion and knowledge of tea, Shabnam has created a place for herself in the tea industry by speaking at numerous tea events internationally and sitting on the Board of Directors of the Tea Association of Canada. In her Director role, she currently chairs several committees and is the author of the TEA SOMMELIER® Certification Program being taught at colleges across Canada, and now online through the Academy of Tea.

Registration Deadline: December 7 @ 11:30pm ET

We hope to see you there!