NEWS RELEASE: TEA SOMMELIER ANDREW MARRONE
News Editor Kristi Basi at HOSPITALITY EXECUTIVE spoke with Tea Sommelier Andrew Marrone, in Washington, D.C.
KRISTI: "Tea Sommeliers are in high demand at luxury hotels and fine dining restaurants in places like Saudi Arabia where no alcohol is served. Yet very few are available. Mostly from the U.K. What is the difference between Western and Eastern Tea sommelier service?"
MARRONE: In the Western world we have a much more diverse view of tea then in countries with a very strong tea culture. The native tea culture tends to take over. While I am able to step back and learn from many different traditions equally. I have personally learned tea traditions from Indians, Japanese, Chinese, Moroccans and British to name a few. Tea drinkers tend to have very strong preference to tea they grew up with making their choice in teas very biased. This is not always best for the customer. The first necessity of any sommelier is to identify with the palette of the customer and not his or her own.
KRISTI: "Instead of tea just with dessert, tea service at the high end pairs a different tea with each meal course. The most expensive are aged and presented with aplomb. What are your comments on Tea aging?"
MARRONE: Pu-erh tea is one of the only teas that can really develop over age. As with wine, some precautions must be taken while aging to finish with a great product. The four basic elements to look out for are humidity, temperature, odor and ventilation. Stability in humidity and temperature play a large part as well. To create an ideal atmosphere, a controlled humidor works perfect. Natural caves also work very well depending on the location. Humidity should be between 70-80 percent, and temperature between 20-30 degrees. Changes, if any, should be steady and natural i.e. seasons changing. The area were the tea is stored must be completely odor free as teas absorb whatever is around them. The tea should not be wrapped or sealed in plastic but should be able to breath. The area should be lightly ventilated. Paper, cardboard and bamboo work perfectly. The tea must also be shielded from light at all times.
KRISTI: Thanks for your comments. My research shows you are at a Park Hyatt hotel. As I recall the Park Hyatts are at the top end of Hyatt hotels. This after Hyatt took over Park Plaza in Toronto, a highly successful business hotel. Being at a very desirable position would you consider working in Asia if the right Tea Sommelier position came along?
MARRONE: It would be a pleasure.