So, what about this whole tea sommelier thing anyway? It’s a relatively new concept and one that we’ve talked about previously in these pages, including this article by our Esteemed Editor. Obviously taking a cue from the more established profession of wine sommelier, tea sommeliers are looking to raise the bar for tea consumption, oftentimes in places where fine dining is committed. But it’s still a burgeoning field and one that’s relatively wide open.
If you had the right mindset and a little bit of luck on your side, I’d wager that you could set yourself up as a tea sommelier simply by saying that you are one – assuming that you know tea well enough. But of course, like most other vocations and avocations, it certainly doesn’t hurt your cause if you have some sort of validation for your claims.
If you’re keen to get certified as a tea sommelier there are a few programs that may be of some help, including one sponsored by the Tea Association of Canada. They define a “a certified tea sommelier professional” as “a trained and knowledgeable tea professional who has successfully completed the Tea Association of Canada certification examination, as a result, is well versed on all aspects of tea as it affects the consumer.”
Their course is broken down into eight segments, including Preparation, Consumption & Health, Menu Design, Food Pairing & Cooking With Tea, and The Business of Tea, just to name a few. It takes about 150 hours to complete and is offered at various colleges and institutions throughout Canada.
Here in these United States of America (and sometimes in courses given abroad), you can achieve certification as a tea professional courtesy of The American Tea Masters Association. Who will offer you the chance to take their Tea Apprentice Certification Course and Tea Mastery Certification Course with the eventual goal of achieving the Certified Tea Master rank. Courses are offered in the US and increasingly in locations worldwide, as well as virtually.
It’s not clear how active things currently are at the Tea Sommelier Academy, in Colombo, Sri Lanka. Their web page indicates that they haven’t given a course since 2011 but their Facebook destination seems to be considerably more up to date.
All of which is sure to be just the tip of the iceberg as “good” tea continues to become more popular and the demand for educated tea professionals will presumably become greater.
See more of William I. Lengeman’s articles here.
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