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The tea sommelier


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3 replies to this topic

#1 Fat Guy

Fat Guy
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Posted 29 October 2002 - 08:33 PM

Is it true?

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
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#2 Michel Nischan

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Posted 31 October 2002 - 11:02 AM

Yes, it's true! I have always loved pure, loose-leaf teas. They are produced as seriously and lovingly as any wine. There are highland, lowland and coastal plants of the same genetic makeup that each respond differently to their terroir - not to mention the many different varietal plants and production methods including aging and smoking. I do not believe in the frou-frou oiling, flavoring, perfuming and blending of "designer" teas; rather I love well-crafted leaves brewed individually with great care.

I hired James Labe, who shared this belief. His only job was explaining and brewing tea and I didn't know how better to explain him than referring to him as a sommelier for tea. I apologize that it caught on and became bastardized by others who started pairing their "personal blend of passion-fruit lotus tea" with this or that dessert. :raz:

Our intention was to offer very fine teas, each brewed individually according to their own character. While many American diners have kind of smirked at us, international travelers and press have applauded us for taking this centuries-old art more seriously than crushing low-grade teas into a paper bag and pouring hot water on it.

#3 Sandra Levine

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Posted 31 October 2002 - 05:19 PM

Is Jim still with you? I worked briefly with him at Dean & DeLuca.

#4 Michel Nischan

Michel Nischan
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Posted 31 October 2002 - 05:53 PM

Jim has opened his own tea company but still works with us. His trained apprentice, Mohammed Siddique has taken his place as our sommelier.