Tina McDonald - Academy of Tea Instructor
Tina is the Program Director at the Academy of Tea and a certified TAC Tea Sommelier® Professional.
Loving tea since she was a little girl, starting with garden parties drinking tea out of tiny ceramic cups with her great-grandmother in Kent, England. Since then, she has been tenaciously tea-focused, poring over yard sales, flea markets, and auction houses for tea-related accouterments – all for a beautiful cup of tea!
When not curled up with a good book and her favourite short oolong, floral white, or big bold black tea, Tina can be found puttering in the kitchen endlessly trying to perfect her choice recipes.
Tina’s knowledge and love of tea will become a memorable part of your tea journey.
Cecilia Corral - Escuela Mexicana de Té
Cecilia is the Academic Director at the Escuela Mexicana de Té. She is certified as a TAC Tea Sommelier® Professional, Tea Designer and Expert in Protocol and Ceremonial Tea.
Cecilia was born in Mexico City and, after finishing high school, lived in France for a year. Bachelor’s degree in business administration from the Universidad La Salle in Cuernavaca, Morelos, she moved to Lomas de Cocoyoc to work as an assistant director in an academic institution. Her work as coordinator of the Entrepreneurs Program allowed her to have direct contact with students and to master the academic instruction.
She has also visited tea plantations in Sri Lanka and Argentina, where she learned in detail the process of cultivation and collection of Camellia sinensis, as well as the manufacturing processes of different varieties of teas, both industrial and artisanal.
Gabriella Lombardi – Protea Academy
Gabriella Lombardi is the President and instructor at Protea (Italian Tea Association). The Protea Academy is partnered with the Tea and Herbal Association of Canada to offer the TEA SOMMELIER® Certification Program in Italian.
Her love of tea began when she was away studying at the University of Granada (Spain). After graduation, and before she could devote her time to tea, she worked at several advertising agencies in marketing positions in Milan. In 2010, Gabriella was able to return to her real passion and opened Chà Tea Atelier, the first tea shop in Milan with a tea room, specialized in high quality loose leaf teas.
Gabriella is the first Certified TAC TEA SOMMELIER® Professional in Europe and is the author of Tea Sommelier from White Star Publishers. She has been a speaker and judge at: World Tea Forum (Korea – Oct 2013, Sept 2014, Nov 2015), World Final Round of Tea Masters Cup International (Turkey – Sept 2015) and Mount Emei International Tea Culture Exhibition Sichuan (China – Apr 2016).
She is also currently the national coordinator for Tea Masters Cup competition.
Jason O’Brien - THAC In-person Vancouver
Jason O’Brien has two passions in life, tea and learning! He is a Certified TAC Tea Sommelier® Professional and makes a point to visit as many tea stores as he possibly can while working throughout Canada and the US, always looking for new leaves to steep!
With an extensive international career as a learning and development professional working within the luxury industry, he has recently turned his hand to the world of tea. His most recent projects include working as a brand consultant and sommelier with a new and emerging tea brand and promoting tea education.
Shabnam Weber - THAC In-person Toronto
Shabnam Weber has spent the last eighteen years in the tea business as an entrepreneur. As owner of a specialty tea company, a tea school and a Director on the Board of the Tea and Herbal Association of Canada, she has a unique perspective on multiple angles of the tea business. She is the author of THAC’s well known and recognized Tea Sommelier® program and a big driver in both consumer and industry education. Shabnam values the diversity offered by all parts of the tea industry, both in Canada and beyond and focuses always on the bigger picture. Shabnam is a graduate of the University of Toronto with an Honours degree in Political Science and she also holds a post-graduate diploma in Psychology.