Do you look at tea the way Benedict Cumberbatch does? Then, we have information you might be interested in Image: Omaze
Chai-garam chai is like music to some ears and we certainly belong to that category of people who gulp down fragrant cups of tea, one after another, lovingly. It's basically the fuel to keep us going through the day, night, morning, afternoon, midnight, et al. Get the feels?
What if we told you that the cup of tea you so much enjoy, reaches you after a lot of meticulous efforts of someone tasting that tea — day and night — for whom it is a full-time profession? How would you take that news? Tea tasting is a legit full-time career and there are many who are in the business.
So what do you need to become a tea taster or teaconnoisseur? Powerful and sensitive taste buds, a sharp mind, the ability to differentiate between various varieties, expert advice on how to brew the perfect cup, knowledge of cultivation of tea at plantations, and know-how of the tea market. A tea taster should also abstain from smoking, consuming alcohol and having very spicy food. *Ouch*
Sounds like something you can do? But it ain't that easy. "Tea tasting is a very niche job and with the increasing market for specialty teas, the value for a taster will go up. However, you need experience on your side as well as this is an art. I am a tea-taster myself and before we raised our first round of funding, most decisions were taken by me directly. I still taste 50 teas on an average, every day. Now, of course, we also have over 100+ years of tea-tasting experience in the team and have skilled tasters who do this full time," says 26-year-old Bala Sarda — founder of Vadham Teas.
"So, what's the eligibility for becoming a tea connoisseur?" you may ask. A graduation degree in Botany, Food Sciences Horticulture or allied fields helps. And there are certificate courses that will help you hone the skills and prep you for the job. You can choose from a 3-month certificate course to a year-long diploma.
Taste of Japan tea tasting today at @teasutranewcastle. I always love tasting the different flavours of pure teas, people always go ‘tea is just tea they all taste the same’ how wrong can they be! 10 different Japanese greens were on the menu today ranging from the well known sencha to the more obscure Hojicha. I tried teas today I would ordinarily have overlooked in their menu so I would strongly advise going to a tea tasting so you can try, without the commitment of a full pot. #tea #teatasting #japanesetea
But Bala feels, "command over the product including tasting, is the most crucial thing needed." He lists three important things to note if you are interested in this line of career.
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“Firstly, you need experience and a mentor/senior to practise with to grow. Next, practice and only practice will make you perfect. It is an art, not a science. And thirdly, you need to appreciate and understand every taste and be curious to really become a passionate tea taster," says Bala.
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True that! And, if your interests are piqued further, what you can do is — to test the waters — embark on tea-tasting tours that are regularly organised at Dibrugarh, Jorhat, Dooars, Manas, Munnar and at Darjeeling and around. Details are available here. Vacation and education rolled into one.
Wondering what are the career prospects? Well, a high-paying job with a trainee's salary of Rs 5000, senior level being Rs 25,000 and skilled professionals drawing a salary of upto Rs 50, 000 a month. The job role could range from detecting defects in the product at plantations, coordination with gardens, brokers and traders, or consultancy services on varieties (new and old) of tea.
Institutes such as the Indian Institute of Plantation Management (Bangalore), Dipras Institute of Professional Studies (Kolkata), Darjeeling Tea Research and Management (Darjeeling), University of North Bengal, Department of Tea Husbandry and Technology (Assam) offer a limited variety of courses to choose from.
How refreshing is that from the daily grind of 9-to-5? We say, pretty much. Plus, you always have a cuppa in your hand. The tea you drink with so much passion could also be your full-time job. Win-win!