We’re delighted to shine the spotlight on Vijitha Hettiarachchi, one of Ahmad Tea’s senior tea tasters who is based in our Emirates factory. Vijitha has been with our business for a decade and has been perfecting his skills within the tea industry for 27 years. Every day he tastes up to 500 cups of tea so he’s a master in the art of tea. Over to you Vijitha:

Tell us what’s it like to be a senior tea taster for Ahmad Tea?

I love my job as it is both challenging and fascinating. You need both courage and determination to hold down a job as a tea taster.  No two days are the same and the job is constantly evolving. The obvious skill that you need is that your palate needs to be sharp as we’ve got the responsibility of maintaining the consistent high quality which our tea fans expect. We work very closely with the tea tasters in the UK, William and Dominic, who offer us a lot of guidance and help. Even though we work within different countries, we’re one team.

What’s your favourite part of the job?

I love tasting the teas. As the seasons change, it is such a pleasure to taste the differences in the teas. I love the aromas of the tea and the smell inside the tearoom is intense. I drink so much tea that I’m pretty sure that I have tea running through my veins! There is something magical about tea, as soon as the latest shipment arrives, we are all excited about trying out the latest batch, seeing how the flavours differ from the last shipment. The magic of tea never tires. I love the people I work with, it’s a friendly environment which makes each day more fun!

What’s your favourite tea?

That’s an impossible question for me, but if I had to choose one, I would say that I love the Ceylon season. It lasts from the last week of February to the end of March. I also really enjoy Rwandan teas which, in my opinion, are full of flavour and are high-quality teas.

What part of your job do you find challenging?

Working with various teams to launch new products can be very challenging, although I still enjoy the process. It takes a lot of trial and error to perfect a new blend and then we work with different teams to help bring new products come to life. The other element of the job which is challenging is that our Emirates factory operates 22  out of 24 hours and our teas are tasted throughout that time to ensure the consistently high-quality is maintained. This means that the tea tasters must work in a shift pattern to ensure that all the relevant tests are taken whenever the factory is in operation.

What trends are you noticing?

We’re witnessing the impact of climate change on the tea plants and how the changing weather patterns are impacting the growth and flavour of the tea bushes. We can’t rely on our previous knowledge of weather patterns, and we are having to work that bit harder to ensure we buy the tea which has been harvested at exactly the right time. We’re also witnessing changing tastes; consumers are continuing to be more adventurous with their tea choices. The tea industry never stops evolving but that’s what makes it interesting!

Thanks so much for your time, it’s been a pleasure talking to you Vijitha.

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