Peter Goggi became President of The Tea Association of the USA, Inc., and its educational arm, The Specialty Tea Institute (STI) in 2014. He brings a lifetime of worldwide tea experience to the position. Over the next few months, we'll be posting interviews with STI's staff, Advisory Board and Tea Mentors and we are initiating this series with a conversation with Peter. Interviewed by Melanie Wisniewski.
STI: Peter – you’ve spent your whole career working in the world of tea. How did you get
Peter: By accident! I was a chemistry major and music minor in college. When I started
looking for a job after graduation, I had a contact at Lipton and landed a job in the tea research
area.as a Junior Chemist. I found that they were looking to train a new taster, so I applied for
that position and moved to Royal Estates, the tea buying division of Lipton U.S. Over the next
few years, I trained as a tea taster, with 3-month assignments in England, Sri Lanka, India and
Kenya. Actually, I did two stints in Kenya – and they still make some of my favorite teas.
When I returned to the US, I became the Production Manager at Lipton’s Santa Cruz tea bag
facility and then became Director of Tea Buying. By the time I left the company I was
responsible for the entire Americas commodities portfolio for Unilever, Lipton’s parent
company. After retiring, I was approached to become the head of The Tea Association.
STI: How did that unfold?
Peter: The president of the association had indicated that he would be retiring, and I’d been
involved with the Association for years. In fact, I was one of Directors when STI was set up (It
was known as ST*R then “Specialty Tea Registry”). I’d always been involved in the corporate
world of tea, but had a great interest in the entrepreneurs the industry attracts.
STI: What’s the most enjoyable part of the job?
Peter: I’d have to say it’s being involved with the entrepreneurs and trying to understand
where and how we can support our members.
STI: What do you value most about your life in the tea industry?
Peter: All tea people are very special. It’s a close-knit group and the industry is more
collaborative than most. And we all share a passion and love for tea. It’s an amazing place for
making and keeping friends – from all around the world.
STI: You’ve clearly witnessed a lot of changes in the industry during your career. What do
you think is the most exciting trend today in the world of specialty teas?
Peter: All the scientific research proving tea’s health benefits has driven a lot of interest in
specialty teas, particularly among millennials. They are – pardon the pun – thirsty for more
knowledge and tremendous tea tasters, curious to know the story of each tea.