Van Hilst Coffee and Tea Sommelier

Lose tea

At the beginning of February 2020 we started a new training as a tea sommelier at the International Tea & Coffee Academy. With this training we want to increase our own knowledge of tea, further train perception in the field of taste and smell and thus further strengthen our company. During our 20-year practical period, we have of course gained a lot of knowledge about tea. However, the need arose to look for further depth.
With the knowledge we have gained, we want to be able to serve you better in terms of advice and assortment.
We will also be better able to advise customers and the catering industry about tea & food pairing afterwards. Tea is increasingly served during the various courses of meals in renowned restaurants.
In the coming months I will take you with me and I will use various blogs to give you an insight into what has been learned in the beautiful but also very complex world of tea.

Update: the first year is now over and the certificate has been obtained!

Serious work

The training is serious work: the one and only Tea Sommelier training is given at the International Tea & Coffee Academy (ITC) in The Hague. The training also complies with regulations and quality requirements.

A tea sommelier is theoretically and practically able to analyze the taste of tea and to use tea in culinary combinations.

To work

Tea Tasting - Tea sommlier

The first day was therefore very intensive with a lot of information and practical experience. When we got acquainted, we immediately started tasting. While everyone entered one by one, tea was immediately made and the tasting and comparison immediately began. The fellow students all have different backgrounds. One does this with the aim of starting a tea house in the future, the other especially likes to do more with tea at home.

But first the basics: what is taste?
During the analysis, all kinds of aspects of taste are discussed. The basic flavors are sour, sweet, etc. And very important for taste is the smell. Without smell, little remains of the taste of everything you eat or drink. When you have a cold you usually don't taste anything or very little.

Furthermore, mouthfeel and taste volume are aspects of taste that are very logical for professionals in the food industry, but as a tea drinker you often don't think about it. But it is logical that a tea with a lot of tannins, just like wine, gives a different experience than a tea with few tannins. The latter is often experienced as milder. Tannic acid (tannin) is a naturally occurring substance that also determines the character of the tea.

Good food and drinks

In addition to all the theory, it is especially important to taste. So lunch is enhanced with, again, several types of tea.
Herein lies the essence of tasting: it enables us to enjoy and enjoy what we eat and drink. And thus it is a basic element for life. Deepening knowledge and experiences in the field of taste is therefore especially fun and increases the pleasure.

And in the rest of the afternoon program, smell and taste remain central. For example, when blindly smelling all kinds of fragrances. And that turns out to be very difficult. If you smell lemon without seeing or tasting a lemon, it is very difficult to identify the smell exactly.
The practical acquisition of knowledge is an important part of the training. You build up a personal flavor library with it. With this we learn to analyze odors and flavors and, in our case, we can work more specifically on the product tea and its composition. But we also learn to combine flavors, where some flavors are each other's opposites and stay side by side very well. Other, often related flavors merge into a harmonious whole. And some things don't combine at all or cancel each other out. So not good combinations.

All in all, at the end of the day the head is full of impressions and information, but: It tastes like more!
So we will keep you informed in future blogs.