October 25th, 2004

Fishy Circumstances

Tea Sommeliers

Tea business is growing. Between 1991 and 2001, tea sales grew from $2 billion to more than $4.5 billion worldwide. And where there's that kind of business opportunity in a commodity which extends into the luxury market, there's business. And not just the sort of business in which business meetings are being held in conjunction with afternoon tea. There are jobs as well.

James Labe, at the Heartbeat Hotel in NY, seems to be considered the world's first tea sommelier.* Certainly he was thought to be the world's only as of 2000. But he's not the only one any more. The Mandarin Oriental in D.C. has one, and so does the Fairmont Royal York, right here in Toronto (Canada's only).**

* Enthusiastic description of a James Labe-designed tea.
** Thanks again to the anonymous Toronto-events commenter for pointing out to me that the Royal York serves afternoon tea; also, Second-hand description of how good an afternoon tea looked at the Royal York.