A voyage through the world of tea: interview with tea sommelier Felix Bürklein
Dress your kitchen
To find out more, we talked to German tea sommelier Felix Bürklein, who works in a fairy-tale location: the Teekontor Keitum on the island of Sylt in the North Sea: the perfect place for a steaming, fragrant cup of tea. To meditate on life and breathe deeply the aroma of adventure and poetry.
Felix was born in 1972 in Wiesbaden (Hesse) and lives in Klanxbüll, on the North Sea, not far from Sylt. After training to work in the hotel industry, because he has always loved making others comfortable, he decided to begin a new career specialising in the promotion and sale of wine.
When and why did you start to work with tea, Felix?
“After taking a break. Six years ago I left wine management behind to work in a field I already had a private interest in: tea. After training as a tea sommelier, passing the state examination at the TeeGschwendner Akademie in Meckenheim / Bonn and obtaining additional qualifications as a tea sommelier and nutritional scientist, I now work in this profession.”
What is “living tea” all about?
“Living tea in all its forms is an expression of quality of life, style, emotions and, above all, pleasure. Tea is a highly varied and very complex beverage. Tea and wine have a lot of things in common: terroir, climate, location and handling are essential factors for both. These parallels represent a challenge for me, as I already have a personal affinity for them.”
What does a tea sommelier do?
“A tea sommelier advises customers and guests, in prestigious stores but also, as in my case, in exclusive teashops.”
What is the question you get most often, since you became a tea sommelier, and how do you answer it?
“There isn’t really a typical question. Everybody asks different things. Infusion times, types of tea, what they taste like... but in the end, it’s not the questions people ask us; for a tea sommelier, what really counts is to convey our enthusiasm about one of the world’s oldest beverages (people have been drinking it for five thousand years!) Tea is the world’s most popular beverage, after water, which explains its socio-cultural importance.”
What is your role in your workplace?
“In the Teekontor in Keitum, on the island of Sylt, I am in charge of advising guests: helping customers choose the best kind of tea for them. I have to make tea properly, using the right amount of tea for the quantity of water, the right infusion time, and the perfect water temperature. All of these are essential keys to the perfect tea tasting experience, just like perfect presentation, which is also my concern.” (cont’d)