9th Annual GTI Colloquium: Tea in a Changing World (2024)

Event Date

UC Davis Conference Center
 REGISTRATION IS NOW OPEN! To register, scan the QR Code below or click HERE.

This Year's Program

final flyer program

About this Event:

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.

This Year's Speakers

2024 Speaker Rich Bruno

Richard S Bruno, PhD, RD

Professor and Chair, Human Nutrition Program
Director, Phytochemical and Cardiometabolic Health Lab
The Ohio State University

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. While the totality of benefits of green tea remains to be discovered, this presentation will provide an overview of green tea’s unique post-harvest processing that preserves its catechins along with the modern-day scientific evidence regarding green tea catechin absorption, metabolism, and anti-inflammatory actions that can allow the audience to respond to the question with, ‘Yes, green tea is good for my heart health’.

2024 Speaker Chalo Muoki

Chalo Richard Muoki

Geneticist, Chief Research Scientist
Head, Tea Breeding and Genetics
Programme Leader, Crop Improvement and Management, Kenya Agricultural & Livestock Research Organization

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.


2024 Speaker Lou Thomann

Lou Thomann

Founder, Yaupon Wellness Group of Companies, Yaopon Teahouse & Apothecary, Yaopon Tea Company

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.


2024 Speaker Shuenn-Der Yu

Shuenn-Der Yu, PhD

Research Fellow, Institute of Ethnology, Academia Sinica, Taiwan

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.


Industry Panel

2024 Industry Speaker Rona Tison

Rona Tison, Chair

Executive Vice President, Corporate Relations & PR, ITO EN, North America, Inc., New York

A tea industry connoisseur with a refined approach to the U.S. Japanese culture, Rona Tison is the Executive Vice President of Corporate Relations at ITO EN (North America) INC., Japan’s #1 green tea brand and the world’s leading purveyor of premium and sustainably grown green tea and healthy beverages. events. The company has received numerous awards including recognition as one of “50 Companies Changing the World” by FORTUNE for its commitment to sustainability and the revitalization of tea farms through its Tea Region Development Project, and its proprietary tea leaf recycling program. In addition to her role at ITO EN, Tison serves on the Board of the Tea Association of the USA and the Tea & Health Committee, the U.S.-Japan Council and Advisory Board of the Global Tea Initiative at University of California, Davis, and member of the Tea & Herbal Association of Canada. She has been a frequent speaker at the World Tea Expo, the United Nations, the Shizuoka World Tea Festival, the James Beard House, and the Smithsonian Lecture Series. She received the “2017 John Harney Lifetime Achievement Award” for her educational contributions to the tea industry, the first woman to ever receive this award.

2024 Industry Speaker Peter Goggi

Peter Goggi

President, Tea Association of the USA

Peter began his career at Unilever and spent over 32 years working with Lipton Tea as part of Royal Estates Tea Co. Peter was the first American-born Tea Taster in the history of T.J. Lipton/Unilever and was featured on The History Channel’s Modern Marvels. His career at Unilever included Research, Planning, Manufacturing, and Procurement and his final position was as Director of Commodities Procurement, sourcing over $1.3B of raw materials for all Unilever operating companies in the Americas. In 2011, Peter became the President of the Tea Association and Tea Council, updating and implementing their Strategic Plan. He continues to drive the Tea & Health message of the Tea Council and helped guide the Tea Industry on its path to growth. He serves as the U.S. representative on FAO’s International Governmental Group for Tea and was the keynote speaker at 2022’s Tea Trade Dinner in London in May.

michael ham

Michael Ham

Co-Founder and President, Wild Orchard

Michael Don Ham, is a dynamic presenter who brings a wealth of knowledge and passion to the world of wellness, regenerative organic agriculture, and sustainable living. As the Co-Founder and President of Wild Orchard, Michael is at the forefront of building awareness for regenerative organic agriculture and the benefits it brings to both human and planetary health within the tea industry. With degrees in Kinesiology, Education, and a minor in Nutrition, Michael has spent over two decades dedicated to health and wellness. He's held leadership roles in non-profits, technology, organic farming, and consumer packaged goods and also co-founded an award-winning wellness technology brand, RePure. With expertise in regenerative organic agriculture, indoor air quality, air filtration, water quality, and more, Michael has been a speaker at prestigious events such as the World Tea Expo, IAQA, CES, CEDIA, and beyond.

2024 Industry Speaker Jason Walker

Jason Walker

Marketing Director, Firsd Tea North America

Jason Walker is Marketing Director for Firsd Tea North America. Prior to his work with Firsd Tea, Jason served in a variety of roles in marketing and operations. His 15 years of tea and beverage experience includes marketing consulting services for tea brands, a top-ranked online destination for tea consumer education, and operating a coffee company. Jason was a keynote speaker at the 3rd China International Tea Expo, a repeat speaker at World Tea Expo, and an editorial advisory board member of Tea & Coffee Trade Journal. Jason’s work with Firsd Tea involves sustainability and traceability projects, including the Sustainability Perspectives Report. The report is based on a global survey that captures industry views of coffee and tea professionals. Jason regularly shares sustainability findings in the press and industry events. Jason lives in Westfield, NJ, with his family.