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TEA 101


Lois Quilligan, Education Director


TEA 101: The Art of Owning a Tea Business Outline


More than a commodity or drink, tea has shaped religion, commerce, politics and cultures for thousands of years. Our students learn the roots of tea in Asia and its translation into western society as Bruce Richardson shares colorful insights from his latest books - The Book of Tea and The Social History of Tea. This inspiring session sets the tone for the entire seminar - and possibly your life's vocation.


From single estate teas to flavorful tisanes, you will taste some of the world's great teas while you learn the art of making great tea time after time. Six hours of hands-on tastings over three days will include an introduction to tea grades and basic blending techniques. Students learn how to taste and evaluate teas using professional cupping sets as well as the Chinese gungfu method.



This session introduces students to production methods used worldwide in growing and manufacturing specialty teas. This enlightening presentation has been featured in Fresh Cup magazine's TEA ALMANAC and a portion is taught annually at World Tea Expo by Mr. Richardson. Students come away with a better understanding of the steps needed to get tea from the bush to the cup.



You may feel confident about your knowledge of the teas you drink today, but do you know what teas Americans will be drinking in the coming years? We guide students through the daunting lists of teas to help them understand what tea drinkers look for on a well-crafted tea list. Our students acquire the skills needed to introduce the right teas choices to their customers.

As an added benefit, students receive the valuable Elmwood Inn vendor list with information about ordering the latest tea merchandise from the world's top wholesalers. Our staff has walked the aisles of trade shows for over 16 years. This list is priceless and will save you hundreds of hours of research in order for you to concentrate on making a profit.



Bruce Richardson gives you resources for six classes you can use in your retail business to inspire sales and customer loyalty. This session was presented to a sold-out audience of 100 at World Tea Expo. You will have the unique opportunity to enjoy it in an intimate setting with less than 20 fellow students.



No American tea venue developed as many recipes as Elmwood Inn's Shelley Richardson during her 14 years of business. Her's was the first tearoom in America to be recognized by the British Guild of Tea Shops. Students will hear the details behind the beautiful tea foods found in her three cookbooks. Plus, it's a golden opportunity to ask her the questions you have on your mind. This stimulating idea-filled session is always a highlight of the weekend.



Are you starting a tea room, tea bar or tea shop? What agencies do you contact? What equipment will you need? How do you go about setting up a kitchen or tea station that works for you. How will your local health department shape your business? We give students priceless guidance in all these areas.



Are you media-savvy? We will give you skills to enhance your public relations etiquette. From learning how to send effective press releases to developing your social media online presence, we cover it all. Plus, every graduate receives a digital press release to take home and use with your business.



How do you find and train qualified employees? What is exceptional service? When is it feasible to take reservations if you are a tearoom? This session could save you a lot of money and headaches over the years!



You've read Bruce Richardson's magazine articles about tea and health as he reports from the International Tea & Health Symposium in our nation's capitol. In this session, you will learn about the latest tea research and its implications for the tea industry. We will show you how to infuse tea into your customers' healthy lifestyles.



What should I charge for products and services? How do I find and train my employees? How much should I invest? Can I make a profit? What agencies do I have to contact? We will help you research these important questions before your banker asks. We even give you a complete sample digital tea business plan to use at home. Tailor it to your business profile, print it off, and take it to the bank.



TEA 101 students may also add TEA & ETIQUETTE CERTIFICATION for a reduced price. See the pricing schedule.


All classes are held at historic Gratz Park Inn, Lexington, Kentucky.


Tea Education Class, Fall 2011


Bruce Richardson Answers Questions about Tea Education

Bruce RichardsonWhy would someone want to attend a tea school?

There was no instruction available for starting a tea business when we began in 1990. Shelley and I were both educators so we became our own teachers. We learned by talking to anyone who knew anything about tea, traveling to Europe, walking the tradeshows and honing our craft. We could have saved a great amount of time and money if we had had a seminar to jumpstart us into the tea profession. 

Considering the resources available today, I am amazed at the number of people who tell me they are on a journey to begin a tea business but they haven't thought of investing in a roadmap.

Who attends your classes?

Our seminars have evolved over the years from a primary emphasis on opening a tearoom to a broader scope of starting a tea business. We still have tearoom owners attend but we also have a good number of people interested in tea bars, tea stores, B&B teas, and restaurant tea service.

The New Tea CompanionWhat can students expect to learn?

One of our main goals is to challenge students' pre-conceived ideas. We give an overall view of the global tea market. Since I travel to tea producing countries and tea businesses worldwide as I research books and articles, I'm able to share my experiences with our students and guide them in upcoming trends.

Our attendees often come with a dream that needs to be either realized - or put away. Many have never thought about how they will make a profit. We show our students the steps to making a profitable business.

No tea business is any better than the owner's knowledge of the main ingredient - tea. We spend hours in focused tea tastings, but we do it in hour-long sessions that tea novices can tolerate. We give each student a copy of New Tea Companion (by Bruce Richardson & Jane Pettigrew) before they come so that they have a reference book they can turn to again and again.


What quality should students look for in choosing a tea school?

There are a number of options these days for budding tea entrepreneurs. Match the school with your style and plans. Talk to former attendees. Study the syllabus. Call and ask questions about the instructors and their credentials. You are going to invest thousands of dollars and years of hard work in your future tea vocation. A good education should be the first investment you make!

Are classes available online?

No. We believe personal interaction is one of the most valuable tools for learning the art of tea. And with small class size, we are able to answer questions immediately.

Will I be a certified TEA MASTER upon completion of this course?


No one in the tea trade would consider calling anyone a tea master unless that person had many many years of experience in the way of tea. That can't be acquired in a three-day seminar.

But, you will be a more enlightened student of tea.


Bruce Richardson serves as Contributing Editor for TeaTime magazine, Editorial Board Member for Fresh Cup magazine, and Tea Master for the Boston Tea Party Ships Museum. Watch Bruce Richardson's Tea Videos from Boston Tea Party Ships Museum.




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