By Jane Pettigrew and Nan Cui
In December the Chinese State Council canceled the Chinese chayi jishi qualification taught by private institutions. The so-called “tea master” certification has been very popular for the past 15 years.
The decision does not apply to the various public sector degrees and tea certifications offered by more than 20 universities and at least 50 colleges as well as 100 vocational high schools.
Tea art specialist became a national standard vocation in 1999 and starting from 2006 these certificates became a required qualification for those who work in related fields according to the Hongyi Tea Aesthetic Center for culture based in Kunming, Yunnan.
Tea experts in China say the decision will clean up the tea education industry in China.
Li Le Jun, c.e.o. of Hongyi Tea Academy (the Private Life Aesthetics Training Department at the Yunnan Hongruijunyi Culture Industry Investment Co. Ltd.) sees this change as a great opportunity to aim for excellence in tea education and commented, “the demand for studying tea is huge.”
“We focus on how to make a delicious cup of tea and on the skills of tea tasting,” said Li Le Jun. “This was the original intention of tea education.”
In the private sector standards and the quality of teaching and testing vary widely and so 433 of those certifications and qualifications have been cancelled – around 70% of all courses and qualifications offered. The only tea qualification offered by the private sector that has been retained is that of tea taster.
The council has cancelled 319 job qualification certificates since 2014 in six batches. The latest eliminated 114. This is part of the central government’s effort to streamline vocational certificate management.
China once had 5,000 certifications issued by various central government level organizations.
Previously there were five levels of certification: elementary tea specialist, intermediate tea specialist, senior tea specialist, tea master, and senior tea master (chayi jishi). A government spokesman said that certifications obtained previously remain valid.
According to the government decree the objective is “to promote the decentralization of vocational management, to optimize public service by the government, and also to promote public entrepreneurship and encourage people to innovate”
The Hongyi center predicted demand for quality education and well-trained tea related work force will increase with the growth of the tea market and tea lovers. It is a challenge for all tea educational institutes to offer quality tea education in new ways to keep up with the trend and growth of the market.
Ding Yi Shou, head of the China Tea Culture Graduate School at Anhui Agriculture University, said that he supports the decision to cancel tea master qualifications and commented that it will make the tea education industry much healthier.