Speaker Biographies

This list is not final and is subject to change.  The full speaker, talk, and tasting schedule will be posted soon.


Mark Adams

Managing Member, Chief Operations Officer, Adams Tea Shop  |  adamsteashop.com

Mark is a tea lover, a lifelong gardening, horticultural, and animal husbandry enthusiast, and retired pastor. Dr. Adams holds several degrees from various institutions of higher education across the Southwest. His farming interests date from his youth when he assisted in various family and community gardens. In recent years, he has been successful in growing oak trees, vegetables, and tea in South Texas. His tea credentials include World Tea Expo’s Tea Business “Bootcamp”, International Tea Association’s “Sommelier Training” (graduation pending), and teaching “Urban Tea Growing” courses. Mark is currently the secretary for the US League of Tea Growers, a longtime member of the Society for Human Resource Management, a certified Mentor for SCORE, and is classified as a “Small Grower” by the US League of Tea Growers. Dr. Adams is a managing-member and the Chief Operations Officer of Adams Tea Company, LLC, DBA Adams Tea Shop.

Josephie Dean Jackson
Owner, East Texas Tea Company | easttexastea.com
    represented by
Brian Ball
Farm Manager, East Texas Tea Company | easttexastea.com

Since 2009, Certified Tea Specialist Josephie Dean Jackson has been growing and processing East Texas artisan tea. Despite droughts and grasshoppers, there have been many positives, successes and great lessons. Josephie is currently in Coeur D’Alene, establishing the first tea farm in Idaho.
Brian Ball, a crop expert with an M.S. in Agriculture from Texas A&M, is overseeing the next phases of development and will be speaking on Josephie’s behalf.

Adrian Hernandez, M.S.

Owner, The Drink Station  |  thedrinkstation.com

One of the rarest of creatures, a native Houstonian, Adrian Hernandez has been exposing the nation’s fourth-largest city to the wonderful world of tea for nearly 13 years. Though he specializes in Taiwan teas with a focus on Nan’Tou oolongs, Adrian’s café chain, The Drink Station, offers a wide assortment of teas which have been carefully vetted through a decade of international travel and tea industry networking. He does not consider himself to be a tea master; instead, he considers himself to be a lifelong student and, above all else, an avid fan of tea cultures across the globe. His many tea-related stories and unique experiences have helped to ensure his company’s success and solidify The Drink Station’s longevity in the local tea market. When he’s not drinking, serving, packaging, or dreaming about tea, Adrian can be found performing about town. A former chorister of the Houston Grand Opera and current front man for local party band Bare Necessity, he considers musical performance to be his second love. Adrian earned his Bachelor’s Degree in Nutrition Sciences and a Master of Science in Health Education from Texas A&M University. Part of his life’s work has involved finding ways to incorporate tea into one’s life as part of a well-balanced, holistic approach to healthy living.

Brenda Sterling Meyers

President, Sterling Tea  |  sterlingtea.com

In early 2006, Brenda Sterling Meyers opened Sterling Tea, a tea boutique and blending facility based in Rockwall, Texas.  Today, Sterling Tea is a leading Texas based importer and artisan blender of premium loose leaf teas. They source the finest natural ingredients and craft their teas in small batches to provide superior taste and aroma.  You will find Sterling Tea blends in restaurants and shops throughout the Dallas metroplex.

Marzi Pecen

Certified Tea Sommelier

Marzi is based in Dallas and is the first person to hold all certifications from The Specialty Tea Institute, Canadian Tea Association, and The World Tea Academy.  Embracing creativity and collaboration, she instructs tea professionals, tastes for sensory research and partners with artists in olfactory art.  Her tea cocktails are featured at Min New York's private sensory soirées & are included in the upcoming book on Tea Cocktails by chef, tea sommelier and author Cynthia Gold. Sharing her knowledge and the accessibility of tea is her biggest joy.

Ann Ranson

President, By the Grace of Tea  |  bythegraceoftea.com

Ann Ranson is the president of Bottom Line 3 Marketing, Inc., a socially conscious enterprise that works with small businesses, nonprofits, and individuals who are seeking an authentic, focused, strategic, head-and-heart yet practical approach to exploring the possibilities for success. She began By the Grace of Tea in 2010 to answer her desire to promote the joys of tea and the conversations it invites. Her gourmet tea blends are named for values she promotes, such as Creativi(ty), Possibili(ty), Authentici(ty) and Generosi(ty).

Candace Roney

Owner, Denton Spice Company  |  dentonspicecompany.com

Denton Spice Company started out twenty years ago as a cottage business based in Ellis County under the name Telico Farms. Temperate-zone herbs were raised organically in luscious river bottom soil. On weekends, Candace would set up a table at a fair, festival or farmers market. The demand for her products became greater than her ability to produce; so she started sourcing product from two great importers. She no longer uses these two companies, not because they weren’t great, but when you can improve on greatness,-then do it!
After selling the farm and moving to Denton, it was time to raise the business to a higher level. Denton Spice Company was born three years ago with a commercial kitchen, additional products and a website. Candace no longer farms, but her sources are up to her high standards of quality, attention to the environment, and fair business practices.
Today, Denton Spice Company is a thriving small processor of small-batch seasoning blends made from the finest herbs and spices from small farms worldwide. Most are organically grown. To purchase Denton Spice Company spices, you are enabling a small farmer to feed his/her family and support his/her community. You are also supporting a small, local business based in Denton, Texas.

Patti Snell

Owner, Patti's Place Coffee & Tea and Tea Junkie  |  pattiscoffee.com 

Patti is the happy mad scientist with tea.  She loves blending and creating very unique flavor profiles that make your daily cup or cups more interesting.  She does not add any sugar, artificial flavors or colors to any of her teas!  Her teas are so good, they need no dressing up!
Patti renovated and opened Patti's Place Tea Room & Bakery in a 120-year-old house in Plano in 2007.  She sold the business in 2011 and now works exclusively on coffee and tea. She has served tea to the Queen and offers more than 250 varieties to have fun with.  Patti is truly a Tea Junkie!

Vayne Thomas Jr.

Conscious Love Coach; Author of From Monster to Man  |  facebook.com/vaynethomasjr

Vayne Thomas Jr is a Mentor, Coach, and Teacher who inspires people to use proven self-development techniques to heighten productivity and achievement.  With these techniques, Vayne Thomas Jr. has helped countless individuals start businesses, heal their relationships,  heal themselves by releasing trauma, and fully experience self realization. Many come to Vayne broken and leave Blessed, Bold and Blissful.

Joe Uhl

Owner, Joseph Wesley Tea Importers  |  josephwesleytea.com

Joe quit his job as an attorney in 2013 to start Joseph Wesley Tea Importers. However, his passion for tea began more than twenty years ago with a study abroad program in Malaysia in 1992; an experience that he parlayed into a lifelong journey. Through subsequent travels and stays to varying corners of the world – Europe, Russia, China, Central Asia, Southeast Asia, South Asia, and East Africa – Joe met remarkable people, many of whom spurred his desire to gain a deeper understanding of tea and tea culture.

Eventually these travels compelled him to find and meet the world’s great tea growers, producers, and connoisseurs. These meetings enraptured him by the complex historical, cultural, and philosophical importance of tea and allowed him to learn the art and craft of the world’s great tea in some of the most famous classrooms, classrooms such as the ancient tea fields of Southeast China, the Nilgiri mountains of Southern India, the Himalayas, the highlands of Sri Lanka, as well as the colonial tea fields surrounding Kenya’s Rift Valley.

This over twenty-year journey not only brought Joe to some of the most esteemed growing regions but it introduced him to some of the most revered cultures and histories of tea. From sampling yak butter tea with the Mongols in the Pamir mountains of western China, partaking in England’s high tea in London, cheering Teh Tarik competitors in Southeast Asia, to participating in the age old debate as to what Indian cities promote the best Chai Wallahs, Joe developed a portfolio of tea-related adventures unsurpassed by all but a few and received access to some of the most meticulously created and perfectly balanced tea.

Joe then made it official. He hung up his gray suit at a multinational law firm, started the revered Joseph Wesley Tea Importers, and dedicated himself to celebrating the art and craft of tea. Through Joseph Wesley Tea Importers, Joe seeks to share the stories that captured his heart as well as the tea that forever changed his life. Joe is author of the book The Art and Craft of Tea: an Enthusiast’s Guide to Selecting, Brewing, and Serving Exquisite Tea (nominated by the World Tea Awards as one of the top five publications about tea).

Amanda Vermillion

Owner, The Tea Mistress, LLC  |  theteamistress.com

Amanda Vermillion is the owner of The Tea Mistress, LLC, a Houston-based company that specializes in event planning and tea sales. The Tea Mistress, LLC combines Amanda’s passion for teas and herbs with her extensive event-planning experience. Her shop in Houston/Clear Lake will be opening in September 2016. She is also the organizer of two meetup groups for friendly tea drinkers, Tea and Conversation with Friends (Houston Metro Area) and Tea and Conversation with Friends (DFW Area).

Amanda holds a Tea Master Certification from the American Tea Masters Association and a New World Tea Certification from I-TEI. She has also studied Tea Blending with the Canadian Tea Masters Association.

Amanda currently serves as Director of Lone Star Houston Tea Festival, Inc., a 501(c)3 non-profit organization that put on this festival, as well as the first annual Lone Star Iced Tea Festival (held in Houston, Texas on August 9, 2015) and the first annual Houston Tea Festival (held on February 20 and 21, 2016).