x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 18 January 2018

Tea tasting in Dubai: Slurp, roll and spit

Tea tasting is an art, which can take years to perfect. And Sanjay Sethi just has to look at tea to know where it is from.

Sanjay Sethi just has to look at tea to know where it is from.

The director of Gundlach Packaging, a tea tag printing facility set up three months ago in Dubai, has been a tea taster for 30 years.

"My father was also in tea, so I was born and brought up on tea in Assam and then trained as a tea taster in Kolkata," said Mr Sethi, who used to head the Dubai Tea Trading Centre.

Tea tasters are tasked with ensuring that the morning brew is consistent.

"Tea is an agricultural commodity, so depending on weather patterns, depending on cropping patterns, many other factors. It varies in quality," said Mr Sethi.

"The same production in the morning could be very different from the production in the afternoon because it depends on so many factors.

"So we as tea tasters come in to ensure that wherever the tea may be purchased from, the ultimate product is consistent throughout the year for our consumer."

Tea tasters must have a sensitive palate and it takes years of experience to differentiate between each cup of tea.

But it takes some time to get the technique right.

"For people who haven't seen tea tasting it's quite an experience because we slurp the tea. It makes quite a large noise. When somebody does it for the first time they probably choke on it because the taste buds [are in the throat]. Then you roll it on your tongue and spit it out," he said.

Slurping tea and rolling it on the tongue helps the taster to understand the attributes of the tea, such as the briskness and the strength.

Over many years, tea tasters learn to differentiate the origin and blend components.

"It's an interesting job," he added.