Tea Science Popularization Social Media Expert- Tea Science PhD Student

Wenzhuo Liu

Dylan Rothenberg, a doctoral student at South China Agricultural University in Guangzhou, is from the United States and studies soil health and microorganisms in organic tea plantations. 2023-2024 is already his last academic year as a doctoral student. After graduation, he plans to continue his beloved research work. In his spare time, Dylan is also a social media tea expert, Wu Mountain Tea, teaching Chinese tea and tea culture in English. He obtained the qualification of an intermediate tea evaluator and also translated the terms of sensory evaluation of tea by himself. He hopes that more people in the world will understand the system for evaluating tea and promote its internationalization.

Dylan studied his undergraduate course in the Chinese Department at the University of Colorado, Boulder, USA, and spent a year as an exchange student at Peking University in China. During his time in Beijing in 2013, Dylan offered his service as a Chinese translator for a friend who was doing tea business in Switzerland. They spent four months in Guangzhou. By coincidence, he met Zhang Lingyun, a professor of tea science at South China Agricultural University, and Dylan decided to follow Professor Zhang to study for a master’s degree. It was very difficult for Dylan to switch from literature to science. During his three-year master’s degree study, he made a lot of efforts to teach himself about plants and other related subjects in Chinese. He is very pleased that he did not give up halfway, insisted on staying through to his master’s degree, and continued to challenge his doctoral degree. He is studying under SCAU tea science professor Yahui Huang, his research focuses on organic tea garden soil health and tea garden soil microorganisms.

At the beginning of his doctoral research, Dylan, who likes teaching, conveniently shared tea science education videos in English on his social media account Wu Mountain Tea in his spare time. He felt that there were not many tea experts in the West, and hoped that through his own explanation, more Westerners could be exposed to real tea knowledge. The videos released by Dylan are generally both educational and popular, and he will chat about tea while tasting it, while adding some scientific content. The audience can both understand and learn some popular science knowledge, and is generally welcomed. The account not only attracts people interested in tea, but also many groups from food, wine, plants, health, and science will also pay attention to it.

For several years, Dylan has held several positions and provided various services to international tea companies, such as searching for tea sources within a fixed price range, serving as a guide for foreigners on tea tours in China, providing tea education and training to tea companies, and teaching tea sensory evaluation and tea garden management. I believe that this to some extent indicates the lack of international tea brands in China, and that Chinese brands and training institutions have not done a good job of international publicity. International tea companies are still accustomed to and continue to seek cooperation with China’s tea industry through centuries of seeking intermediaries. Dylan’s educational background and mastery of language are considered to be a relatively reliable intermediary role. He has been admitted as an intermediate tea evaluator, and he believes that China’s tea evaluation system is more comprehensive and detailed than that of other countries, and should be applied in international tea evaluation. I find it interesting that Dylan himself translated the terms for sensory evaluation of tea, distinguishing between positive and negative reviews. Although his translation differs from the translation of English terms in Chinese national standards, there are not many evaluations conducted using the Chinese tea sensory evaluation system in English. I feel that the practical applicability of the English translation of adverbs expressing degree in the evaluation is not high, and if this system is to be used internationally in the future, it is bound to require further proofreading of the translation terms.

In 2018, Dylan participated in a black tea making competition and said that he could make oolong tea and black tea through course learning. Because there are many great tea makers in China, Dylan can only say he can make tea, but he can’t say he can make good tea. I talked to him about some American tea plantations and their whimsical innovative attempts at tea making, which can sometimes truly make people speechless. Dylan also noticed that some Western tea gardens make tea at will, lacking the support of the knowledge system. It is necessary to learn traditional methods well before making innovations. This is why Dylan hopes to open tea subjects and majors in American universities after graduation in the future, systematically and scientifically teaching Westerners tea expertise.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *