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Instructors

Tracie Michaud

Academy of Tea

Tracie is the Program Director at the Academy of Tea and a certified TAC Tea Sommelier® Professional.

She’s a lifelong tea lover, vintage teacup junkie and Founder & Owner of Tea with Tracie, an online luxury tea company.

Tracie spent almost 30 years in the corporate world, before starting her own tea company at the young age of 49. She combined her business background and love of “all things tea” to fuel her dream of living a calm and joyful tea lifestyle.

Since tea has always been her liquid therapy, she’s passionate about helping others find comfort in their cup.

Tracie spends her days drinking tea, talking tea and selling tea…all while being ridiculously happy and usually over-caffeinated!

Tina McDonald

Academy of Tea

Tina is an instructor for 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.

Laila Saidi

École Française du Thé et des Tisanes

Laila Saidi is a certified TAC Tea Sommelier® Professional. 

As far back as she can remember, tea was always on the “coffee” table. Green tea, mint, pine nuts, and scents of jasmine flowers are reminiscent of her childhood as she grew up between France and Tunisia.

After her graduation from Panthéon-Sorbonne University and Gustave Eiffel Institute of Business Administration, Laila started her career in Singapore as a mergers & acquisitions professional. As she traveled extensively in the Asia-Pacific region, she started visiting tea plantations in her spare time, and tea became a growing passion.
 

In 2015, she started the Tea Sommelier certification process, following Gabriella Lombardi’s footsteps in Europe. In early 2021, she founded l’École Française du Thé et des Tisane in Paris to help promote tea education. She collaborates with a network of researchers and artists, willing to share their knowledge of tea history and culture with a francophone audience.

 

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 President & In-Person Toronto

Shabnam Weber has spent the last twenty 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.