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The job of the tea sommelier

Estimated reading time: 2 Min Read

While the tea sommelier is a profession in its own right in some Asian countries such as China, Korea and Japan, as well as Russia, it is rare in France to find a professional who is entirely dedicated to this beverage, apart from a few specialist establishments. Since 2015, Palais des Thés has ena- bled its employees to take a tea sommelier diploma to confirm their level of expertise.

Passion, learning and transmission

Curiosity is undoubtedly the most common quality among tea sommeliers. They are pas- sionate about their work and are pioneers in a world that is constantly changing, with hundreds of different teas. Faced with this diversity, tea sommeliers must have a good memory and regularly stimu- late their senses of taste and smell during tasting sessions. Far from being a solitary occu- pation, the tea sommelier is generally concerned with sharing and passing on their knowledge. This requires good listening skills, a combination of teaching and psychology, and the ability to make their knowl- edge accessible.

A variety of fields

Ourloveofwinesometimesleads us to forget that the sommelier has always been responsible for all types of beverages (spirits, water, soft drinks, teas, coffees, etc.). In fine-dining restau- rants and hotels, in addition to advising diners and preparing and serving tea, they are often responsible for choosing and buying tea and ensuring it is correctly stored. When tea fea- tures on the menu, they work with the head chef. In stores dedicated exclusively to tea, the tea sommelier chooses a bespoke range of teas and infu- sions, and must be thoroughly familiar with the house teas in order to advise a clientele of increasingly well-informed tea lovers in search of new products as well as background informa- tion on their favourite beverage. At Palais des Thés, the tea som- melier might also host in-store tasting workshops, provide training at the Tea School and take part in events.

Being a tea sommelier at Palais des Thés

In your local Palais des Thés store, the tea sommelier is responsible for the vibrant, unique and personalised selection of flavoured, single-origin and premium teas. Depending on their clientele, they might place greater emphasis on certain flavour types, provenances and categories. They will be able to explain why a rare limited-edition tea can disappear just as quickly as it arrived in the shop! Like a wine merchant, they can reserve a particular rare tea you’re after, or let you know when your favourite tea arrives.

They help every tea lover by understanding their tastes and the way they drink tea at different times of day. They can tell the story of a tea and its producer, of how it was processed and the best way to prepare it. They can explain how to choose the right accessories, pair it with food, and even cook with it. When customers have such confidence in their tea sommelier, they can be inspired to try a tea for the first time as they listen to the sommelier talk about it – unless they already have the cup to their mouth.

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