Job: Tea Master at The Ritz, London
My job in a nutshell: Afternoon Tea at The Ritz is almost an institution in itself. It has become the quintessential British experience, and our job is to maintain this. As the deputy manager of the Palm Court [where afternoon tea is held] my role involves sourcing our teas, training our team and ensuring our guests have a memorable experience. Tea has become my passion. In my spare time I travel extensively in Asia to visit tea plantations, and learn everything from picking and processing to grading different varieties of tea leafs. I also recently completed my Tea Master certification.
How did you start out? I grew up in an espresso bar in Sardinia. When I moved to London a friend asked if I would be interested in working at The Ritz, which I of course was. I started in the Palm Court 13 years ago, beginning as a commis waiter [the lowest-ranked waiter in a restaurant] and progressed through the ranks. I went to an introductory tea sommelier course in 2008 and fell in love with tea.
A great day is: One where all of our guests are happy and leave with a lasting, pleasurable memory from their experience.
A challenging day is: Ensuring that every guest receives the same level of quality of experience. It can be challenging as we often do almost 400 covers a day in the Palm Court, but that is also the fun!
I’ll never forget: The first time I actually saw a tea plantation. It was in Sri Lanka. From the beginning, I knew that tea was going to become an important part of my life.
Most people don’t know: That like fine wine, there are so many varieties of tea-leaf. Being a Tea Master involves pairing different varieties of tea to the person and food, much like a wine sommelier.