The Journey to becoming a Tea Master

Tea Shop co-founder Kellie Marshall speaks with In Noosa Magazine about the sensory art of tea, uncovering her journey as one of only four certified Tea Masters in Queensland!


Firstly, what is a Tea Master?

The Tea Master qualification dives deep into the heart of tea, recognising an individual who demonstrates an understanding the complexities of tea processing – how they intertwine with variations in colour and flavour, the influence of terroir on the tea plant and how the environment shapes the very essence of each leaf.


How did you become a Tea Master?

To gain certification as a Tea Master, I underwent a structured program of comprehensive online studies, assessments and an immersive in-person seminar held at the Australian Tea Masters facility.

The curriculum covered a wide range of modules, spanning the historical evolution of tea, methodologies for tea grading, professional tasting techniques, the intricate realm of chemical composition, the mechanics underlying taste and the intricacies of plantation and harvesting.

It also explored nuances of processing and production, systematic tea grading protocols, tea-producing nations worldwide, varied brewing methodologies and the fine art of tea blending.

The culmination of the program involved a series of rigorous theoretical and practical exams, coupled with research assessments addressing diverse topics such as the health benefits associated with various teas, geographical nuances of tea cultivation and cultural practices.

Why was it important to achieve this?

I’m always curious to learn more about tea and to be able to provide knowledgeable service to customers.

It’s also an opportunity for me to educate others on potential health benefits, brewing techniques and how we can reduce waste by using loose leaf tea.

What did you discover about tea that you hadn’t previously known?

A significant concept in tea production is terroir, a French term often used in the context of wine and agricultural products including tea.

It refers to the unique combination of environmental factors that influence the characteristics and quality of a crop, including its taste, aroma, appearance and overall character.

In the realm of tea production, terroir plays a crucial role in shaping the flavour profile and identity of a particular tea.

How will you use this knowledge in your business?

I am poised to substantially elevate and expand our business. This newfound understanding of tea’s history, grading, tasting techniques, chemical composition and cultural significance equips me to curate an exceptional range of teas that really resonate with our customers.

I’m planning to leverage my proficiency in tea blending and brewing methods so I can continue crafting unique and captivating tea blends.

I also want to provide insights on the potential health benefits of different teas and tisanes which will enable us to offer wellness-focused selections that cater to a health-conscious demographic.

What do you love most about creating small-batch, loose leaf tea?

I love the uniqueness of our blends, the freshness of our ingredients and the loose-leaf flavour that is far superior to mass production.

What is your favourite blend of tea?

It’s really hard to answer this question. It’s like asking, “Who is your favourite child?” But I always start my day with a Robust, our strong black tea blend.

Throughout the day, I vary from something naturally sweet like Honeybush Chai; something refreshing like Lemon Myrtle Green; or something to aid digestion in the evening such as our Peppermint, Dandelion and Fennel blend.

Tea is also very seasonal, and our blends offer versatility from a comforting hot brew to refreshing cold infusions.

What is your favourite tea infuser?

The tea stick infuser! It’s a practical and convenient tool, perfect for brewing a single cup while also contributing to a sustainable future – zero waste, no contribution to landfills and plastic-free!

Can you give us a taste of the new blends coming to Tea Shop?

We’re excited to have recently released our Honeybush Chai, a flavourful and naturally sweet caffeine-free chai with delightful spicy notes; and our Liquorice Mint, a refreshing minty-flavoured herbal blend with a naturally sweet aftertaste of liquorice.

We have a couple of other blends we’re working on, but we’ll keep those a secret for now!

Watch this space!