Let’s be honest you are either a tea person, or a coffee person, but a great cup of tea can certainly soothe the soul. Imagine my excitement when I found that British Tea brand Tetley are making some serious inroads in to South Africa.

Established in Britain in 1837 and brewed from some of the world’s finest teas, the brand is steeped in history. Since joining the Tata Global Beverages family in 2000, Tetley has gone from strength to strength.

Today it’s the second largest tea brand in the world, and one of the UK’s top teas. In fact, every day millions of cups of Tetley tea are enjoyed in 40 countries across the globe – including South Africa

So, let us start at the very beginning. Tea tasting is a serious business – and, like wine tasting, there is also an art to tea tasting. I recently got to meet the Director and one of the founding members of Joekels tea, Johnathan Kelsey, who has become a master of this art.

The story of how he got involved in this skill is inspirational.  As a child of around 8 years he watched a program on TV about a tea taster and thought it interesting, years later he applied for a job as a Trainee Tea Taster and today he is master of this art.

With his tongue and taste buds being the most important part of his business, Jonathan has insured them for a cool R 5million and to continue his tea tasting legacy, he has three apprentices in training.

According to Jonathan the main factors to look for in a good tea blend for our South African market is briskness, broadness and flavour.

Here are the steps and what to look for when mastering the art of tea tasting:

1. Consistency – this refers to the colour, texture and scent of the leaves.  Good tea will be consistent across all the layers and not just some of them.  Pay attention to what you can see in the leaves and take note of any obvious characteristics like shape and shades.

2. Look at the infusion – what colours do you notice and is the brew milky or clear?  Is there an oil like film?  Examine the liquid and take notes, there is a reason for the way it looks..

3. Get scent-sational – smell the tea and try and pick up what aromas you should be getting on your nose,  is it grassy, earthy, fruity or nutty?  The options are endless so smell away.

4. Taste it – what are the first notes that you get on your tongue?  Is there a certain mouthfeel. Do the flavours develop over time or do you experience an aftertaste?  Some flavours may be delicate and some may linger longer than ours.

Find out more about Tetley tea here

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