Take Five for a Tea Sommelier

25 Sep 11  |  By Snigdha Manchanda

If you need to solve a puzzle, apply your brains.

If you need to run a mile, prepare your body to run.

But how would you prepare to start identifying the exact notes while you're tea tasting!

From my own learnings as a Tea Sommelier:

  1. Your tongue has it's own memory. Even if you don't remember, it's still engrained in you. Thankfully, that was my first lesson from Kumekawa-sensei, (my Tea Master.)
  2. Tea Bag is not Tea. There are different grades of Tea and only the lower (rather lowest) grades are blended for making Tea Bags. Hence, for Tea Tasting, only loose leaf tea will do.
  3. It's a myth that high-grown tea implies higher quality of tea and low-grown is lower quality. Each tea has it's own character. Never a judge a tea purely on it region.
  4. Every Tea Estate have their own quality season, i.e. the best season for their tea. Be sure to sample quality season tea to know the variations.
  5. Good people make good tea. Tea Estate Managers taste over 300 cups of tea a day. If you can trust the Tea Manager, you can expect to taste good tea.

Snigdha Manchanda




1. Excellent summarisation of the prevailing circumstance.
2. Yes the quality depends on the season and climate. In Darjeeling we make good spring flush tea in Mar upto 15/4 and summer flush teas from around 20th May to end June. The Autumnal teas are made in Oct/Nov after Durga Puja/Diwali.
3. Tea Estate Managers always try to optimize the production quality which is dependent on many factors including climate/season, cultivar, standard of plucking and level of technology available with the producer.


My name is Angela and I own Serenity House Tea Society. I love reading your 5 tips and seeing you taste tea. How great this trip must have been and thank you for sharing.

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