Tea consumption is on the upswing in the US, and with that comes the rise of high-end varieties and yes, even tea sommeliers. For those interested in acquiring such a title, it's time to get up to speed on the scents of flowers, reports Modern Farmer. The website interviews Chas Kroll, executive director of the International Tea Masters Association, a group that issues three separate certifications of varying skill levels. To be able to describe the tastes and aromas of various teas, Kroll has his students smell all kinds of flowers to develop what Dan Nosowitz writes is a "mental rolodex" from which to draw. "A popular flower used in teas is the jasmine, but most of my students have never smelled a jasmine before, or could tell you what the aroma of chrysanthemum or orchid is,” says Kroll. Hence the crash course on flowers.
Those in the two most intense courses combine in-class lessons with studies at home to become expert in brewing, tasting, smelling, and, of course, talking the talk. They also have to identify teas from around the world in a process similar to wine tasting, writes Nosowitz. "They smell, sip carefully, swish, and describe the different qualities they perceive." Then comes a dissertation and a final exam. The most difficult course involves identifying three mystery teas that come with zero information, along with essay questions on topics such as terroir. "My vision for the future is to see every major restaurant in the world serving tea—not just tea but high-quality, loose-leaf tea—to their guests to make it a central product just like wine is today," says Kroll. Click to read the full interview. (Read more tea stories.)