Tuesday, June 22, 2004

This may be your cup of tea
Pramod Chaudhari

Known as an Englishman's meal, tea is relished all over the world. Having a cuppa is considered de rigueur any time of the day-bed tea, noon tea, evening tea or high tea-any occasion and tea is welcome. Moreso in India, the largest producer of the leaves. People begin their 'good mornings' with a cup of tea. And with it comes a career in tea tasting.

The job of a tea taster is one of the most promising careers in the world today. Off beat as it seems, it is gaining ground in India.

Tea tasting is a totally scientific experience. For it, one has to have a good smelling power. In fact, to begin a career in tea tasting, one has to have a complete knowledge of farming in tea leaves. To make one's mark in the line, the person should ideally work in tea farms for a while or at least see how the farming is done.

With the passage of time, the person develops the tea tasting ability in every pore of his finger. It's a five-finger exercise, literally. Just by seeing the size of a leaf, he can tell how tasty the cuppa would be or what colour it would have. By just smelling the leaf, he can tell how 'sippable' the drink would be. Interestingly, the art is inherent in many people. Of course, it can be honed and developed further.

In order to become a tea taster, one should ideally be in the age group of 18 to 25. Academically, it is sufficient to have a plus two degree. Those having science as a subject are preferred.

A good tea taster can earn up to Rs 50,000 a month besides perks. With tourism in India becoming a golden industry, a tea taster is bound to go places. An expert taster can identify 1,500 types of tea based on their characteristics such as aroma, colour, flavour, strength and pungency. Tea tasting is both a science and art. Through years of training and practise, the five senses are honed to the point where they act in unison to say, 'This is indeed a nectarean drink!'

The career offers equal opportunity to both boys and girls. It is directly linked to the hospitality industry. Many hotels, especially the five-star, offer a good salary and other facilities to a tea taster. Tea tasting is a fascinating career. Many non-alcoholic beverages come to the market only to disappear after a while for want of a consumer. However, tea has been in the world from times immemorial and will remain till eternity. So, the career of a tea taster is for life. He does not retire at 58 provided his sense of smell remains fine and provided his taste buds remain sharp. In order to keep his taste buds in the pink, he should abstain from smoking, alcohol and spices.

There are several institutes which award diplomas/certificates in tea tasting. They impart a thorough knowledge of tea tasting. Some of the important institutes are:

  • Depross Institute of Professional Studies, Kolkata

  • Getting a degree from this institute means a lucrative career in tea tasting. Students who get degrees from here have been making their mark in tea industry.

  • Darjeeling Tea Research and Management Association in Kadamtala-734433. It offers a PG Diploma in tea tasting

  • Assam-Darjeeling Tea Research Centre, Kurseong, Darjeeling.

  • Chaudhari Sarban Kumar Krishi Vishwavidyalya, Palampur (Himachal Pradesh) 1760662

Some universities even offer 'tea tasting' as an additional subject.

A career in tea tasting offers rich emoluments. A good tea taster can earn up to Rs 50,000 a month plus other perks.