Time For Tea with Our Tea Sommelier

tea sommelier

Our team of trained and accredited Tea Sommeliers work in partnership with our customers to understand exactly what their project needs before curating the perfect tailored solution.

With an unrivalled understanding of international tea tastes, our experts know what consumers respond to, sharing their insights at every turn.

Read on to understand more in an interview with one of our Sommeliers, Deepthi Ananth.

What formal training have you undertaken to become a Sommelier and what does this involve?

I completed the Tea Sommelier course from the International Tea Master’s Association (ITMA) giving me the Certified Tea Sommelier™ designation, a prestigious title in the tea industry, representing a significant level of tea knowledge and expertise. This involved a two-part ITMA Certified Tea Sommelier Course™ - a two-month program, containing all the educational requirements needed.

You learn all about the varieties of tea, from green to black to oolong. Each major tea category has countless sub-varieties and, as a Tea Sommelier, you truly get to understand what’s what, enabling me to appreciate the key differences between different varietals, where in the world they’re produced, and how each type is traditionally served.

You’re also trained on ‘cupping’, the technical term for how the tea is prepared and tasted. With preparations varying depending on the type of tea, with special equipment and controlled variables, it can be complex.

Learning how to evaluate the tea uses your eyes, nose and tongue, and all starts by looking at the tea, studying the colour of the brewed tea and how the wet leaves look. We then use our noses to absorb the notes of the tea’s fragrance, which may or may not match up with the tea’s taste. There is a wide range of terminology we call on, giving what we detect comparable descriptors, also noting the mouthfeel and or weight of the tea, for a full evaluation.

I have also completed formal training with coffee cupping in India. Coffee cupping, or coffee tasting, is the practice of observing the tastes and aromas of brewed coffee by a professional coffee taster who has had prior training in evaluating different coffees. Cupping allows evaluation of different characteristics of a particular coffee bean. Cupping also helps us compare and contrast coffees against each other, and allows us to get a better understanding of each coffee.

How does this help you in developing new tea solutions?

My role as category manager for Tea and Coffee means my team and I manage all technical enquiries for these product ranges. Having a deep understanding of the incredible variety and complexity of each type of tea leaf means I can make sure we’re making well-informed decisions. The knowledge gained also aids in practical application, as the lines continue to blur between beverage categories it allows us to work creatively with customers, introducing tea alongside flavours such as botanicals and citrus in things such as flavoured waters for example.

How do you keep on top of what’s trending in tea?

I stay up to date on the market through both our marketing team and industry publications and websites. I attend refresher courses and attend various tea festivals to ensure that I am well placed in terms of future tea developments too. This really helps me in managing both our portfolio of tea solutions, and when working with customers particularly on re-formulations and new product developments.

Discover more about our tea offering and how we can work with you to create the perfect tailored solutions right here.