I appreciate how lucky I am to have one of the greatest jobs in the world. As a tea connoisseur I can spend whole days making tea, inspiring others, taking amazing trips to plantations and brainstorming with chefs about tea and food combinations. Recently I have my own tea brand, Crusio Tea. I can completely invest myself in that. My favorite part is selecting tea leaves. I order them directly from the farmer.
You have to imagine that there are sometimes hundreds of tea samples delivered from every corner of the world. And it is up to me to taste each one thoroughly. Amazing, but sometimes your head spins after a whole day of tea. En then you still need to start making the recipes.
At this stage I try to get the best out of the tea leaves. I experiment with the extraction times, temperature, amount of water and tea until I am completely satisfied with the flavor. My kitchen looks like a laboratory during the tasting. The countertop overflows with scales, water cookers, thermometers, pots and measuring cups.
Treasure chest of flavour
I have a truly fantastic job. I can only imagine one job that is more fascinating: professional tea taster. Tea tasters, select tea leaves that will end up in the bags of the big brands. Everyday dozens, sometimes even hundreds of teas pass their lips. The tasters ensure that the tea always has the same, familiar and trusted, taste. They construct a super-complex puzzle because tea leaves never taste the same. The harvest differs per season, and each growth area and sub-variety are also different. It is the refined task of the tasters to select the blend that the consumer is accustomed to drinking. They thus need to be able to perceive the finest flavour nuances, even after trying hundreds of tea samples. Deep bow. Master tea tasters are “it.” They play a Champions League final daily, you can compare it to that level. It would be fantastic to be able to taste that well and to work so many types of tea daily. A treasure chest of flavor information.
And yet there is a slightly bitter aftertaste to their work. As a tea taster you have to significantly restrain your indulgence of earthly pleasures. You can have a glass of wine or cup of coffee only very occasionally. And you also have to take care with strong spices. A cigar once in a while? Forget that! These are all bad for the oh-so-valuable taste buds. I am, except for coffee, a moderate user of such things, so that is something. But still, some wine, a cold beer or a well-spiced meal—I come from an Indonesian family—I wouldn’t want to miss them. I prefer to stay a tea connoisseur. “My specialty” tastes, in the end, of so much more.