Jason M. Cohen is the author of the series An Introduction to the Art & Science of Chinese Tea Ceremony. Tea Technique hosts the canonical, most up to date version, of the book.
Subject Matter Expertise
My interest in tea began in 2007, while attempting to study politics in Kunming. For reasons that should be apparent, I did not study much politics in Kunming. Instead, I spent most of my time in the tea market, focused on Pu'er.
In 2008, I picked and harvested my own tea on Makaibari tea plantation in Darjeeling, India.
In 2009, I revisited China and India to further my tea education. While transiting through Nepal, I attempted to visit the tea fields - which were unfortunately closed because of the continuing Maoist insurgency in the remnants of the civil war. I wasn't quite warned of this in advance and was abducted by soldiers in Ilam who took me to their fortified compound in the tea fields to be interviewed by their commander. The soldiers and commander were thankfully government forces (not Maoists) and sent me on my way after confirming I was not an arms dealer. While my research in Nepal was not exactly successful, I was able to return to Darjeeling to continue my studies on tea in India.
In 2010, I founded the Tea Institute at Penn State, an interdisciplinary research institute dedicated to the study and preservation of tea, tea ceremony, and tea culture. At Penn State University I oversaw the research of 30+ students in five fields of study, and did my own research in sensory science (the science of taste), machine learning, and artificial intelligence. I remained the Executive Director or Executive Director Emeritus from 2010 - 2018.
In 2011, I studied tea in Taiwan with multiple high level practitioners and Korean tea with Brother Anthony of Taize (http://anthony.sogang.ac.kr/; author of two books on tea) and Hong Kyeong-Hee (one of) the Inheritors of the Dharma of Cho Ui.
In 2012, I led the Tea Institute's Experiential Learning Opportunity Abroad in South Korea, leading a group of 5 Penn State students to pick and process their own tea, work with ceramic artisans, and study with Buddhist monks. I then returned to Taiwan to continued my education with multiple teachers, and visited Japan to finalize the Institutes relationship with the Urasenke and Omotesenke Chanoyu Schools.
In addition to my time spent in Asia, from 2009 - 2016 I directly oversaw (first as Executive Director and then as Executive Director Emeritus) the research, events, and education of students at the Tea Institute. During those years, I spent hundreds of hours researching, overseeing, and assisting tea related research; and personaly instructed about 80 students to perform Chinese tea ceremony. Proudly, many of my students have gone on to teach others - a few hundred individuals have learned there tea practice from my lineage.
Working with the Institute's leadership team, we directed weekly programming and yearly international events: each year, the Tea Institute would host a major international event, inviting a high-level pracitioner to Penn State for a week-long series of public events, workshops, and private "master class" for advanced students of the Institute. I directly oversaw and benefited from those closed-door sessions for the institutes most advanced practitioners.
The first book On Theory, Meta Theory, and Culture was finished on December 16th 2021; the second book in the series, Yixing Teapots - Knowledge, Connoisseurship, and Technique, began publication on June 2nd, 2022 and is expected to complete in mid-2024.
I am the Founder & CEO of Simulacra Synthetic Data Studio, an AI platform used by CPG companies to enhances their existing data and re-use prior consumer behavioral research.
I was previously the Founder & CEO of Analytical Flavor Systems, a venture backed ~20+-person tech-startup. Our platform, Gastrograph AI, is a Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence platform used by large multinational food and beverage companies to develop new products, optimize existing brands, and enter new markets by predicting high-preference flavor profiles for targeted consumer demographics around the world.
Analytical Flavor Systems grew out of my research at the Tea Institute.
I am a recognized expert on the application of artificial intelligence to predict human sensory perception and preference. In my previous role as Founder & CEO of Analytical Flavor Systems, I work with the world's largest food and beverage companies, have spoken at academic conferences to audiences of up to ~1,000 attendees, and continue to publish research on the applications of AI for human sensory perception.
I am frequently interviewed within the industry and have appeared on podcasts, radio, and video for general interest interviews about AI and food development.
One of the best examples of an on-the-spot interview is available here: https://www.gastrograph.com/sleepwalkers-ai-sparkling-water-development/
I have also been interviewed by:
- The Atlantic: https://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2018/12/gastrograph-flavor-goes-digital/577270/
- The Economist: https://www.economist.com/1843/2019/01/21/for-your-mouth-only-welcome-to-the-era-of-personalised-food
- The New Statesman: https://www.newstatesman.com/science-tech/technology/2018/05/how-artificial-intelligence-could-personalise-food-future
- The Guardian: https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2018/may/23/food-for-thought-will-an-era-of-hyper-personalized-meals-leave-a-sour-taste
- The Counter: https://thecounter.org/artificial-intelligence-personalized-food-beverage/
I am very happy to receive personal inquiries - though I am often slow to reply.
For questions related to the chapters published here, please discuss in the comment threads (subscriber only).
My email address is: akedomakona [at] gmail [dot] com.