World Tea Academy (WTA) – the leading online tea education and certification program from the organizers of the World Tea Expo Conference + Expo and World Tea News – named Leslie Beatty as the recipient of the 2020 Brian Keating Gratitude Scholarship.
Beatty will receive free tuition in 2021 towards earning a WTA Certification, which will include seven WTA classes (cost of class kits and shipping is not included in the scholarship). World Tea Academy currently offers two levels of certification and five advanced certification paths. Details on the WTA certification programs can be found here.
A native of Charlotte, N.C., Beatty is a chemical engineer, innovator, thought leader in the healthcare industry and mother of two children. She currently resides in Arizona, where she demonstrates her passion for women’s empowerment, African American youth leadership, and social justice through various channels of community involvement. By leveraging her leadership, life experiences and skills, Beatty also dedicates time to helping victims of domestic violence transform into thriving survivors, in addition to educating them about tea and the wellness benefits of tea.
On the tea front, Beatty is a re-emerging tea specialist and influencer who hosts tea parties and shares her passion for tea with youth. Prior to COVID-19, she created tea blends and held tastings for small groups who were interested in tea. And, as a Girl Scout leader, she held tea parties for girls of different ages to help them develop an appreciation for tea, enjoy the afternoon tea experience and learn etiquette.
WTA Spurs “Science Mode”
“When I first learned of the World Tea Academy in 2017, I was excited about having another quality, flexible option to learn about tea in the United States,” said Beatty. “Today, with the global pandemic at play, I am highly drawn to the virtual, guided approach to learning about tea as opposed to the strictly in person approach offered by other organizations.”
Beatty said that by removing travel as a factor, the savings with WTA are notable and the classes are cost effective. “With the class design for certification, multiple tracks for advanced learning and frequency of offerings, World Tea Academy has done an excellent job at addressing the various aspects of the art and science of tea. As a person who loves chemistry, I enjoy the self-paced, hands-on learning over a 30-day period because it allows me to be in ‘weird science mode’ and really experience the depth of tea through tea tastings and other activities. By being a part of the World Tea Academy community, having access to various experts in the tea industry is invaluable.”
As a chemical engineer at Motorola, Beatty traveled throughout Asia and experienced many different types of teas and customs during her month long trips. In 2006 and 2007, she began pursuing her dream of starting a tea business – a tea shop. She earned Level 1, 2 and 3 certifications through STI and was conducting tea tastings with different blends. But when life happened, and her dream became deferred.
“Nine years later, I became a domestic violence victim/survivor and divorced mother of two, fighting for my life in every way,” said Beatty. “With sheer determination to break free, an unwillingness to give up and an invaluable support system, I have been fortunate enough to heal and transition to building a new life for my family. As I was hosting a virtual tea party with friends earlier this year, I was speaking so passionately about tea again that they encouraged me to pursue the dream I shared with them over 10 years ago. My desire to become a master tea blender and open my very own tea store is as strong as it was in 2006. As an active speaker and advocate for domestic violence victims and survivors, I also want to give back by bringing the tea industry to those who are walking their healing journey from the trauma they have experienced.”
WTA Supports Beatty’s Vision
For her dream tea shop, Beatty originally envisioned providing a relaxing environment for customers to meet with friends for a nice cup of tea paired with a lovely dessert, tea sandwich or scone – essentially a modern twist to afternoon tea. “Customers would be welcomed to participate in tea tastings and collaborate to create custom blends,” she said. “While I haven't abandoned that dream, I have modified my immediate goals to launch a business that aligns with the current market landscape, while offering blended teas and incorporating my core values such as customer satisfaction, experience, and quality.”
Currently, Beatty enjoys sharing the world of tea with the younger generation. “I believe today's youth should learn about tea and it's benefits to enrich themselves and the world around them,” she explained. “Tea has a rich global history and ceremonial aspect. By learning about tea's history, its contribution to the world and the different tea ceremonies and experiences, youth can better understand and appreciate other cultures. Holding tea parties for girls and taking them to afternoon tea, helps them to understand the social aspect of tea and learn etiquette. It is also important for youth to know the health benefits of tea and what sets it apart from other popular beverages. By understanding the benefits, more youth may choose to drink tea as a first choice.”
Overall, Beatty believes World Tea Academy can help her achieve her tea shop vision. “Earning the WTA Tea Blender Certification will enable me to be more proficient in blending and quality,” she explained. “I expect it will fast-track my ability to produce quality blends and provide a product my customers will love. The focused track will also help me better understand how the tea industry has evolved over the past 10 years and address my blind spots. As a professional with quality experience, I understand the importance of quality systems and regulations, and I am eager to learn and contribute to the continuous improvement of the industry and provide excellence to my customers.”
On the horizon, Beatty plans to utilize her professional experience to drive transformational change in the industry, to increase the market share of tea as a beverage. “I look forward to using my knowledge, skill and abilities to create innovative products, equipment and systems, as well as leverage people, process and technology to efficiently and effectively address gaps/opportunities to better position our country in the global world of tea.”
Educating Students Around the World
The Brian Keating Gratitude Scholarship was established in 2019 in memory of tea visionary Brian Keating, who passed away in 2018. According to WTA, Keating was a generous mentor, consultant and strong voice for tea education in the specialty tea industry, and he served as an invaluable resource and strategic technical advisor to World Tea Academy. In his honor, one WTA scholarship is awarded each year.
Since launching in 2013, World Tea Academy has enrolled more than 900 students from 59 countries, 6 continents and 46 of the 50 United States, plus the District of Columbia.
“When I think of the value that WTA brings, the world enablement comes to mind,” said Beatty. “The education and network that World Tea Academy brings makes it a distinctive enabler of my tea journey as an innovator and aspiring business owner. The knowledge rich nature of the offerings addresses any gaps I may have while building upon my foundation with the advanced components of tea and the tea industry. Although I am passionate about tea blending, I acknowledge that blending is both art and science that is enhanced over time. The WTA Certified Tea Blender track provides the focused, structured approach that I need in my busy life as a mom of two.”
To learn more about World Tea Academy, visit WorldTeaAcademy.com. Questions? Email [email protected].