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Steeped In Knowledge: Our Resident Tea Sommelier Shares Her Favourite Tea Facts

Fairmont Vancouver Airport

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Meet Laura Reyes, our Assistant Outlets Manager and resident Tea Sommelier. 

With the introduction of the LOT 35 tea, Fairmont’s exclusive tea collection, Laura, along with a select group of Fairmont colleagues from around the world, were sent to the Metropolitan tea headquarters for in-depth Tea Sommelier training.  

So what exactly is a Tea Sommelier? …Like fine wine, good tea is a gastronomic delicacy that possesses a deliciously wide range of aromas and flavors. A Tea Sommelier is an expert in all things tea – from tea procurement and proper storage, to developing tea menus and pairings, to specializing in the perfect steep-to-service process. 

Laura’s top 5 little-known facts about tea:

  1. Black, green, oolong and white teas are all harvested from the same plant type called Camellia sinensis (aka the tea plant or tea tree). The plant grows as an evergreen tree that produces delicate flowers that contain about 4% of caffeine.  So what differentiates the tea types? The length of time the fresh leaves are exposed to oxygen (aka oxidization or fermentation) during manufacturing is what determines the color of green, blank and oolong tea.
  2. A tea plant can go on producing good tea for up to 100 years.
  3. Looking for something in between black and green tea? Oolong is a semi-fermented tea which production starts with freshly plucked leaves that are exposed to oxygen until they have reached the mid-way point between green and black teas before drying.  Laura’s personal favourite: LOT 35 Organic Goddess Oolong
  4. To maximize the shelf life of loose leaf tea, store in a cool, dark cupboard, away from direct heat or sunlight. Properly stored, loose tea will generally stay at best quality for about 18 to 24 months.
  5. All teas are not created equal and, as a result, not meant to be enjoyed with the same accompaniments. Black teas are best enjoyed with milk, sugar or honey.  Green, fruit, herbal, white and oolong teas on the other-hand, are meant to be enjoyed straight-up (or with a touch of sugar or honey).  Milk actually curdles slightly in these teas due to their acidity. 

Laura’s favourite tea in the new LOT 35 collection? Ontario Icewine – a luxurious white tea, hailing from China, with Riesling and berry notes and a silky white tea smoothness.  And, with high antioxidant levels and low caffeine, this tea’s sweet flavour makes for the perfect guilt-free treat.

View our full tea collection and our new Spring afternoon tea menu here 


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