A little more than a year ago, I registered at George Brown College (a local Toronto college, with a strong culinary department) for their Tea Sommelier program!
I've never blogged about it, because...well, not that its not interesting because it really is. Rather, I didn't know how far I'd go with it. To be honest, I didn't know anything about tea except that I like it, and I liked some of the flavour blends I'd tried. Other than that, well, I knew BUBKUS!
Twelve months later, I am an official Tea Sommelier! We just had our certification exam, and I really hope/think I passed. I knew 9/10 teas in the blind tasting portion of our exam. Also, we had to write an essay, answer 40 multiple choice questions, serve tea properly to our examiner (only after picking the type of tea out of a hat), and making a presentation on another topic picked out of a hat.
To be honest, I'm quite proud of myself. I've learned so much about tea over the last year. This wonderful, complex leaf, and how it is plucked and processed with so much attention. It is quite fascinating to learn that so many complex flavours can come out of one plant! I'm not talking about 'Provence' flavour or 'Vanilla bean' or other contrived tea flavours. I'm refering to the gentle natural floral/peach essence in a lightly oxidized Oolong, or the charcoal toasty Keemun. How about the gentle delicate taste of the lovely Silver Needle white tea? The natural tastes, flavours, essences come from the way this leaf is plucked, withered, heated, oxidized, dried, etc...
What a shame that when we think of tea, we only think of a little bag! Well, thats what I used to think but now I just gasp at what a wonderful thing I've discovered.
I dont think I'll ever use my title of 'Tea Sommelier' but its nice knowing I've earned it. If anyone has any questions on tea, or is considering such a path, feel free to ask questions.
My kettle is boiling, gotta go!