The Global Tea Initiative Becomes The Global Tea Institute

For almost a decade, GTI has been working with the international specialty tea industry to develop a program integrating commercial tea businesses with the diverse academic programs at UCD. And every year the public is invited to attend a Colloquium, a robust program with international speakers and industry professionals. This year’s theme is “Tea In A Changing World” and features the speakers and industry professionals listed below along with descriptions of their presentations. Admission is free but advance reservations are necesary. This is made possible by funding from generous industry sponsors. 

Thursday, January 25, 2024 · 9am – 5pm PST


In a world that is constantly shifting around us, GTI’s 9th Annual Colloquium, Tea in a Changing World, presents a day full of talks that consider the diverse ways this is happening to tea in society and culture, science, and health, and as well as from the perspective of the tea industry. We think about shifts in time, space, and expectations, and whether changes in the climate are affecting how tea is grown. We consider how tea rituals have changed and adapted over time in various cultures and societies around the world. We ask how the human body responds in different way to having tea in its system. And we learn how the industry is pivoting to address these many changes.   From The U.C. Davis GTI Website

Featured Speakers and Focus Topics for the 9th Annual GTI Colloquium

Richard S Bruno, PhD, RD

Is Green Tea Good For My Heart Health?

Centuries of anecdotal evidence have suggested that green tea provides a variety of medicinal benefits. However, its actual health benefits have only been established in the modern era compliments of research that has provided an understanding of how its frequent consumption could help to lower the incidence of premature death, especially from heart disease. Carefully conducted investigations have detailed the compositional differences between green tea and other varieties of tea from the
Camellia sinensis plant. This has prompted continued study to identify the extent to which its bioactive catechins are bioavailable and can aid in the management of blood lipids, lower blood sugar and inflammation, and alleviate ‘leaky gut’ to support heart health. 

Chalo Richard Muoki

Growing Tea in the Changing Climate of Kenya

Great progress has been made in the assessment of the relationship between tea productivity and climate change. To avoid vulnerability to predicted climate-related effects, and subsequent socioeconomic and environmental problems, there is a need for scientific and community-based adaptation and mitigation strategies. The adoption of multi-targeted approaches that seek to understand the complex physiological, biochemical, and molecular networks associated with stress will enhance the sustainability of the tea sector in Kenya.

Lou Thomann

Ceremony, Medicine, Caffeinated Tea: Unearthing the Forgotten North American Stimulant Yaopon (Ilex vomitoria)

For thousands of years, the indigenous people of North America revered Yaupon for ceremonies, medicine, trade, and caffeinated tea. After fading into obscurity for hundreds of years, Yaupon is experiencing renewed interest for many of the same reasons it was initially forgotten. 

Lou is the founder of Yaupon Wellness Group of Companies, ​Yaopon Teahouse & Apothecary, Yaopon Tea Company

Shuenn-Der Yu, PhD

Sense-Making in Taiwan’s Tea Art Ritual

Taiwan’s contemporary public tea gatherings mark a new phase of the development of tea culture in Taiwan as it transforms the once daily tea sharing
ritual into a new form of cultural performance. This presentation will trace how it emerged from Taiwan’s tea art culture from the perspective of sense-scape, and the cultural world of sensory experiences, and discuss its significance. Shuenn-Der argues that this local practice and invented tradition strongly identified with Taiwan has been embraced as a “traditional” cultural practice in contemporary China and presents an acultural paradox deserving our attention.  Dr. Shuenn-Der Yu is a Research Fellow, Institute of Ethnology, Academia Sinica, Taiwan

Thursday, January 25, 2024 · 9am – 5pm PST


Annual Industry Panel

Share a robust discussion about what’s happening in the specialty tea industry on a gobal scale that affects the tea in our cup. 

  • Rona Tison, Chair – Executive Vice President, Corporate Relations & PR, ITO EN, North America, Inc., New York
  • Peter Goggi – President, Tea Association of the USA

  • Michael Ham – Co-Founder and President, Wild Orchard

  • Jason Walker – Marketing Director, Firsd Tea North America

Presentations from Past Colloquius