Sips & Bites: Exploring the World of Artisanal Tea

Tea pouring into cups

Event Date

Virtual, via Zoom

The Global Tea Initiative (GTI) for the Study of Tea Culture and Science was established in 2015 to promote evidence-based knowledge about tea, the most consumed prepared beverage in the world. With UC Davis’s extraordinary breadth of expertise and GTI’s holistic mission, GTI is unique in the world, and the first and only entity to promote research and teaching on tea culture and science, and from a global perspective. Current studies are expanding collaborations with industry partners and university researchers in the US and across the globe, and creating new knowledge about tea.

Founder and Director Dr. Katharine Burnett shares an overview of the Global Tea Initiative. Manik Jayakumar, Founder of Qtrade Teas & Herbs, and Rona Tison, Executive Vice President of Corporate Relations at ITO EN, North America, Inc, discuss their work in the tea industry and walk attendees through a tasting of their exquisite teas.


We tasted a selection of artisanal and award-winning teas. Green teas are available at the ITO EN website.

  • Ceylon EX SPL, black tea from Qtrade Teas & Herbs
    Steep in 6 ounces of 210-degree water for 5 minutes
  • Ti Kuan Yin, oolong tea from Qtrade Teas & Herbs
    Steep in 6 ounces of 190-degree water for 3 minutes
  • Oi Ocha Matcha Genmaicha, green tea from ITO EN
    Steep in 6-8 ounces of 180-degree water for 30 seconds
  • Matcha Love, Japanese matcha, and green tea from ITO EN
    Steep  in 6-8 ounces of 176-degree water for 30 seconds


Dr. Katharine Burnett joined the Good Food Show on KSRO and spoke with Chef John Ash and Steve Garner about the Global Tea Initiative and the Sips and Bites event. Listen to the show.


Dr. Katharine Burnett is a Professor of Art History, and the Founder and Director of UC Davis’s Global Tea Initiative for the Study of Tea Culture and Science (GTI). In her research and teaching, she likes to explore definitions of culture and how culture is formed. Her new book project is Art History without the Art: The Curious Case of Sino-Vietnamese Teapots before 1700. Indeed, it was a fascination with teapots and the philosophy and politics involved in shaping them that led her to found GTI. Dr. Burnett’s efforts for GTI have been recognized locally, nationally, and internationally.

Manik Jayakumar is the Founder of Qtrade Teas & Herbs and on the Advisory Board of the UC Davis Global Tea Initiative. He has been working in tea for 57 years. For 25 of those years he grew tea in Sri Lanka where he was also the consultant for the first organic tea garden in the world. Manik was awarded a Lifetime Achievement Award for tea in 1989 and founded Qtrade Teas & Herbs in 1994. Qtrade Teas & Herbs has won 108 awards at the World tea expo in all categories.

Rona Tison is a tea industry connoisseur with a refined approach to the U.S. Japanese culture and innovative marketing. She 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. 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 UC Davis Global Tea Initiative, and member of the Tea & Herbal Association of Canada. 

Moderator Andrew Waterhouse is a professor in the UC Davis Department of Viticulture and Enology, and has previously held the John E. Kinsella Chair in Food, Nutrition, and Health, and the Marvin Sands Endowed Chair in Viticulture and Enology. He has won a UC Davis Chancellor’s Fellow award, holds an honorary doctorate from the University of Bordeaux, and he has been named one of the most highly cited researchers in agriculture by ISI. In 2018, he was named the director of the Robert Mondavi Institute. 


This event is part of the Sips and Bites series, which explores the stories behind foods and drinks with winemakers, brewers, and culinary innovators with tastings and conversations about what inspires them to make their wines, beers, and foods. 


This is a virtual event that will be presented via Zoom. In order to access this webinar, you will need a free Zoom account, which you can sign up for here.


If you have questions about this event, please email: