Ask any tea enthusiast what some of their favorite resources are to learn about tea and you’ll likely hear the name, Nicole Wilson. Nicole is the writer behind Tea For Me Please, an award-winning tea blog widely cited by peers as one of the most influential resources for tea information. Nicole has been a tea writer for over a decade, recently publishing The Tea Recipe Book, and also has extensive experience in the tea industry as a retail manager and a tea industry consultant.
Recently, she completed the Being Tea Teacher Training, an experiential learning program aimed at building effective tea educators. The program is facilitated by Suzette Hammond, a tea trainer, educator, and professional located in Chicago.
As I traverse through the Being Tea Teacher Training myself, I’m interviewing others who have completed the program. My aim in these interviews is to share their stories and bring awareness to the depth Suzette’s curriculum explores.
Marco Namowicz: Hi Nicole, it’s great to connect as Autumn continues! I know tea and tea education is important to you, so I have to ask, what inspired you to enroll in the BeingTea Teacher Training Program?
Nicole Wilson: In 2020 I found myself at a bit of a crossroads. I was having difficulty pinpointing my role in the tea industry and how best to describe that to others. I asked for advice in a Facebook group for bloggers and a very insightful person commented, “Oh, you’re a tea educator”. It was a real lightbulb moment for me. Helping people learn more about tea is what I have been doing through my blog all along. Not long after Suzette announced they were starting the Teacher Training Program and it seemed like the perfect path to explore my newfound purpose.
Before the program, what would you say your experience had been facilitating learning experiences for others?
My experience facilitating was pretty limited before taking part in the program. I taught my first public tea class at a festival the year before. It went well but I knew there was room for improvement. My primary medium had always been the written word so public speaking can still be anxiety-inducing. It was a different thing to be an engaging and effective communicator while simultaneously brewing tea.
Tell me about some of the most challenging elements you had to consider or bring to the table when completing an assignment for the course.
The entire course was challenging, but I’d have to say the most thought-provoking module was Tea for Everybody: Psychologically-Sensitive Teaching. Topics like trauma-informed teaching, equity, cultural appropriation, and decolonization are not easy to discuss but it is work that is so necessary for tea educators. Having an inclusive, collaborative environment to do that with the members of my cohort really shaped who I am as an educator.
How have you taken the lessons you’ve learned through your cohort and applied them outside of tea-centric experiences?
I try to apply the lessons learned in the tea teacher training to my everyday life wherever I can. Skills like planning, organization, and flexibility are indispensable. From the importance of self-care to “Stacking your show”, I often still find myself referring back to my notes and the resources that Suzette provided throughout the course.
I love how you’ve been able to continue utilizing the lessons you’ve learned in new situations! What advice would you give to someone interested in taking the BeingTea Teacher Training program?
I cannot recommend this tea teacher training enough if you are interested in facilitating or teaching tea. That being said, don’t approach it as a certification to list on your resume. This course is really about self-development. Keep an open mind and take your time with the course materials rather than rushing through them to get to the finish line.
Similarly, I understand there is continued support once the program is completed. How has this shaped your development as you pursue opportunities?
The ongoing education offered through the program has been invaluable. The Being Tea website is a treasure trove of videos and resources. I love being able to return to the program materials when needed. I’m not usually able to attend the monthly teacher’s workshops due to my current work schedule so I really enjoy being able to catch up on recorded videos afterward. Attending graduate projects taught by my fellow educators is also a constant source of inspiration.
What is your hope for the future of tea education in the U.S.?
I hope that the tea industry will better utilize educators to reach consumers as it continues to grow. I think we’ll also have a lot more opportunities for collaboration with other industries both inside and outside of the food and beverage world. Do you have anything in the works you’d like to share with the tea community or coming-soon content inspired by this program?
I’m currently working on building my first virtual tea course. There’s still a lot of work to be done, but I’m excited to share it with the world. There are also going to be a lot more tea festivals and special events in my future.
It is clear to me that Nicole has enjoyed the flexibility that the Being Tea program has for adult learning and its focus on inclusive, collaborative experiences. The course is open to all sorts of tea professionals and enthusiasts and I can’t wait to share the stories of others! I look forward to the virtual course Nicole is preparing for tea drinkers everywhere, and hope you also stay tuned!
For more information on Nicole Wilson and the full scope of the Being Tea educational programming, links are below!