Brew Monday: A Day In The Life Of A Tea Taster

Shutterstock / Syda Productions © brew monday

Brew Monday is an initiative launched by the Samaritans, to encourage us to reach out to a loved one on January 18, which is traditionally named “the most depressing day of the year”.

The cup of tea may have to be virtual this year, but with the country in the throes of another lockdown, there’s never been a better time to connect with others. 

To mark this Brew Monday, we share A Day In The Life of tea taster Louise Cheadle, first published in “The People’s Friend” in Special 179.

It sounds like a dream job, but there’s a lot of hard work involved!

When I first started out in my career, I trained whilst working for a big tea company and this involved lots of travelling to different estates, as well as tasting thousands and thousands of cups of tea from all over the globe.

It was my first job out of university. The tasting developed my palate and travelling to remote tea estates opened my eyes to how complex the world of tea really is.

Now I am a tea taster and founder of Teapigs, and although I like developing new blends, tasting existing ones is still a huge part of what I do.

Let’s be honest, it is pretty amazing

To do my job, having a love for tea goes without saying, as you’re going to be drinking a lot of the stuff!

And although sitting around sipping tea may sound like the dream job (and let’s be honest, it is pretty amazing!) there is a lot of hard work involved.

In terms of a honed palate, if you’re a big drinker or smoker it probably isn’t the job for you, as you need your taste buds to be in tip-top condition, but it’ll take around five years to fully train your palate.

Although there’s no degree in tea tasting – yet!

There isn’t really a typical day in the Teapigs office. We are expanding globally so my role can involve lots of travel to interesting places from LA to Rwanda.

When in the UK, some days I work from home. But I really enjoy coming to the office to spend time with the team in Brentford. They are a great bunch with lots of good ideas.

We always say it tends to slow down in the summer, but that’s just not true any more. We launched a cold brew in the summer – a range of infusions that are all natural blends. Tea is now an all-year-round thing.

We’re also launching more and more limited edition teas these days, and while a throwaway comment of “Let’s make a chocolate orange tea” felt like an amazing idea at the time, actually having to create the blend, with round upon round of tasting, is another matter entirely.

I wouldn’t change it, though – as a tea lover I have found the perfect job.

I love being able to see new products develop every step of the way, and being busy shows we’re doing something right. It’s also exciting to develop new flavours.

Our tea sales make a difference

So it makes for an interesting job. I’ve been doing this for more years than I care to admit, and I’m still loving it.

I’m also extremely lucky to have visited some incredible places and seen some very beautiful locations. Tea is generally grown off the beaten track in very rural areas with stunning scenery.

I recently returned from a trip to Rwanda with the Point Foundation to see the amazing work carried out as part of our ethical scheme – over the years we’ve supported vulnerable youngsters in the tea-growing communities.

Without these tea-growing communities I wouldn’t have a job. So to be able to spend time seeing first-hand how our tea sales make a difference is a real career highlight.

We only ever use whole leaves, herbs and spices in our teas. These whole ingredients mean bigger flavour and tastier tea.

We also work with the Ethical Tea Partnership to make sure all our teas are sourced ethically.

My favourite at the moment has got to be Tung Ting Oolong. It’s a light and delicate cross between a black and green tea.

After a hard day at work, I relax by exercising.

We have weekly exercise classes in the office. But with two small kids at home, sometimes coming to the office is my relax time!

Advice I would give my twenty-year-old self

Don’t worry about the little things.

For more on Brew Monday, click here.

For more fantastic features from “The People’s Friend”, click here.

Iain McDonald

Iain is Digital Content Editor at the "Friend", making him responsible for managing flow of interesting and entertaining content on the magazine's website and social media channels.