Are Tea Sommeliers the Next Big Thing?

Tea experts who pair tea with food could be the next big thing in high-end dining


Do you still have to do the swirl-and-sniff with a cup of tea?

You’ve heard of wine pairings and beer pairings, but what about tea pairings? Tea sommeliers may just be the next upscale touch at high-end dining institutions.A tea sommelier might recommend Chinese green tea to bring out the creaminess of a particular Brie, for instance, or black tea to complement rich desserts.

"The whole idea of pairing tea with food is that you should have a tea that's going to enhance the flavor of the food, or vice versa," Aurelie Bessiere, a tea expert at Palais des Thés, a tea production company in France, told NPR. "What you want to happen in your mouth is to feel the different layers of taste and flavors of both tea and food."


The idea of a sommelier itself is a Western concept, even though tea originated in the East. A tea sommelier could give you tea recommendations based on what kind of food you’re eating, the weather outside, and the time of day, according to Bessiere. Palais des Thés is starting to work with more and more American institutions, including New York City’s Eleven Madison Park, which is well known for its tea program.