To cel­e­brate the Mid­dle East launch of Tet­ley loose leaf tea, mas­ter tea blender Se­bas­tian Michaelis, whose taste buds have been in­sured for $1 mil­lion, was in Dubai and we caught up with him on ev­ery­thing tea.

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How to make the per­fect cup of tea with mas­ter tea blender, Se­bas­tian Michaelis.

Tell us a lit­tle bit about your­self.

For the past 12 years I have worked at Tet­ley Tea, as a mas­ter tea blender. Be­fore that, I had never heard of a tea tast­ing job, but I also never wanted a nor­mal nine to five desk job and the tea taster po­si­tion ticked all the boxes. Who doesn’t love tea and travel?

Tell us about your visit to Dubai.

I was very for­tu­nate to be in­vited to visit Dubai to help the launch of our Tet­ley loose leaf blends and speak with food blog­gers about the art of blend­ing. I chose the teas for these blends specif­i­cally for Dubai. You can re­ally tell when you’re drink­ing a poorly blended tea, it will taste flat and stale. Bal­anc­ing the flavours is cru­cial to get a bright, flavour­ful cup.

How have you de­vel­oped such a strong taste for tea?

A life­long habit, I started drink­ing tea at a very young age. How­ever, be­fore I joined Tet­ley I didn’t know very much about it. The train­ing pro­gramme at

Tet­ley in­volves an in­tense five years of tast­ing hun­dreds and thou­sands of teas to re­fine my pal­ette and de­velop the skills to make a per­fect blend. A typ­i­cal week will in­volve tast­ing a few hun­dred teas and grad­ing them very pre­cisely us­ing our in­house tast­ing lan­guage Uhuru (mean­ing free­dom in Swahili).

Which is your favourite flavour?

When I taste tea it in­volves slurp­ing a very strong brew us­ing a soup spoon and spit­ting it out. It sounds a bit rude, but it’s nec­es­sary to pick up all the flavours. I sep­a­rate the process of tast­ing tea with just en­joy­ing my cup of tea. De­spite tea be­ing my job, I have man­aged to main­tain my love for it and usu­ally drink six or more cups a day. My favourite is our ex­tra strong blend which has very brisk Kenyan teas, it has lots of flavour and is just a touch bit­ter.

Your se­crets on mak­ing the per­fect cup of tea?

Al­ways use freshly drawn wa­ter from

the tap rather than wa­ter that’s al­ready been boiled, as it can af­fect the taste of your brew. If you’re mak­ing black tea, you re­ally want to use boil­ing wa­ter, so make sure you pour the wa­ter from your ket­tle as soon as it reaches 100°C. Green tea how­ever doesn’t like it too hot, it can make your brew taste overly bit­ter. I rec­om­mend leav­ing the ket­tle for two min­utes af­ter it’s boiled be­fore pour­ing.

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