Tea has been grown and appreciated for more than 5,000 years so perhaps tea tasting is the oldest profession?
Tea tasters are employed by both the sellers of tea (brokers selling on behalf of producers) and the buyers of tea (mainly packers).
The career tea taster develops a very sensitive palate and will have had a 5 to 7 year apprenticeship often spread over several producing countries. He (for they are almost always male) is able to identify a tea's country and the season when it was harvested, and often the name of the plantation. He can tell if the manufacture was done with care or if mistakes where made. He can judge quality and value. His tasting speed is legendary: sipping slurping and spitting up to 300 teas an hour!
You however, can quickly develop some of the taster's skills by observing some simple rules as outlined in the accompanying pages.