Food & Drink

Love a Cuppa? Here’s How to Become a Tea Sommelier

The UK is a nation of unstoppable tea drinkers! According to 2021 Statista figures, over 7.3 million people indulge in over four cups of tea per day, with a further 8.8 million enjoying a cup two to three times. In Britain though, tea consumption is a pretty one-track affair: a YouGov survey found that, in 2020, Brits only mainly drank English breakfast tea, shunning flavoured, green, and other speciality varieties.

Variety is the spice of life though, so if you’re an adventurous tea lover, consider becoming a tea sommelier – a trained and knowledgeable tea professional! If that sounds like your cup of tea, there’s all sorts you can do to fully submerge yourself in the study and mastery of tea.

Educate yourself on the history of tea

If you want to become a hot-shot sommelier you must always keep in mind that tea has a rich history and culture. Make sure you learn as much as possible about this heritage – knowing the background of the wild and wonderful teas of the world will give grounding to your more taste-focused studies!

Know all your tea flavours

Between camomile and mint tea, there are many tea flavours out there to sample, appreciate, and learn from. You’d be surprised to hear how many and how wonderful they can be: pickled tea, Russian brick tea, Panda dung tea, tomato mint tea, butter tea and many more are out there just waiting to be sipped and enjoyed.

Learn about food pairings

Just like beer and wine, tea masters need to be aware of the correct science behind tea and food pairings. There is a perfect tea pair for whichever food you want to eat. For instance, camomile tea can pair very well with desserts and brighter, fruitier flavours, while black teas can pair brilliantly with more robust meats like lamb, beef, and venison.

Visit tea estates far and wide

If you want to take your sommelier studies even further and become a true master, consider visiting tea plantations and estates in different countries. Tea history and cultivation is focused in countries like China, India and Japan. Head there, request tours, and discover first-hand the dedication it takes to grow and pick the tea leaves.

Becoming a tea sommelier is a serious undertaking, and whether you’re exploring the activity on your own or signing up to a qualification from the likes of the UK Tea Academy, use the tips above and you’ll be an expert in no time!

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