What Is a Tea Barista? (What Do You Call a Tea Specialist?)

Last Updated on December 20, 2021 by John Moretti

If you are like me, tea is the drink of choice! I have loved it since my first cup and have sampled hundreds of cups over the years! Does this make me a tea specialist? If I pour my mom a cup of tea, am I a Tea Barista? So, what is a Tea Barista, and what do you call a Tea Specialist?

A Tea Barista is a skilled professional with a passion for serving and brewing tea but is not accredited. A Tea Specialist is called a Tea Sommelier; they are accredited, certified, and are connoisseurs in the art of blending, brewing, flavoring, aromatics, and the history of tea.        

There is so much more to just brewing the perfect cup of tea. What is the required training, what does a Tea Sommelier earn, what variety of teas are available, and where are they grown. All this information forms a vital part of what you need to know before ordering your next cup of refreshing fragrant tea.  Let’s dive into the world of the Tea Sommelier.  

tea barista - what do you call a tea specialist

What Is A Tea Barista?

A Tea Barista will be able to brew the perfect cup of tea and serve it to you with professionalism and skill. Tea Baristas have a passion for what they do and only lack the certification required to become a Tea Specialist. 

What is a Tea Specialist Called And What Do They Do?

The correct name for a Tea Specialist is a Tea Sommelier, often referred to as Baristas. Tea Sommeliers are certified and have an understanding of the history, flavor, and knowledge of tea. They are expert tea blenders and have a deep knowledge of aromas, taste, and correct brewing methods for all teas.

This expertise allows them to recommend and blend teas to your satisfaction. Highly experienced Tea Sommeliers will tell you the history of the tea and from which mountainside it was grown. They can gain this information by simply tasting the tea; these artists are Master Tea Sommeliers.

Becoming a Master Tea Sommelier will require further study, completing more modules, and working experience from at least one tea estate.  This position of expertise often takes years of experience to obtain.

How Do You Become A Tea Sommelier?

tea sommelier at the shop

The first step to becoming a Tea Sommelier is to have a deep passion for tea.  Enrolling in a Tea Sommelier School, one internationally recognized, is recommended as this skill is in demand worldwide.

This school will provide you with the necessary skill set to understand the brewing process, taste, and fundamentals required to become a Tea Sommelier. 

Here are a few modules that need to be studied:

  • Pairing teas with food
  • Tasting and sensory analysis of tea
  • Presentation and cupping
  • Blending, brewing, and flavoring tea
  • Brewing methods
  • Tea Culture and regions
  • Types of tea and brewing techniques

The course duration is  2 to 2 ½ years, and once completed, the student receives a certification.  You will need to gain knowledge by testing it out in the field to expand your resume. Experience is necessary to progress toward becoming a recognized Tea Sommelier.

Where Can You Work As A Tea Sommelier?

A certified Tea Sommelier’s options are limitless and international.  This field of work is in demand as the tea culture is growing rapidly, and most food establishments are adding new specialized and unique teas to their menus.

Tea Sommeliers work in restaurants, tea wholesalers, tea manufacturers, and international hotels, depending on their knowledge and experience in the tea world. Some will work in the field as contractors, working with several smaller establishments to create new and exciting teas to pair with their menus.

Establishing your own tea shop will allow you endless possibilities and allow you the freedom to experiment with your newfound passion.

What Does A Tea Sommelier Earn?

Remuneration is dependent on experience; the higher the qualification, the more you will earn. A newly certified Sommelier with less than four years of experience can earn $25 000.00 – $30 000.00 per year.  A Master Tea Sommelier with more than 15 years of experience can earn $80 000.00-$150 000.00 per year. 

What Types Of Tea Do Sommeliers Specialize In?

All Tea Sommeliers will have their specialty; some will be great blenders or skillful brewers, and some will specialize in a specific type of tea.  Here is a list of the leading tea varieties:

  • Black Tea – Grown in China, Sri Lanka, and India. This tea is full-bodied with a rich floral aroma.
  • Green Tea – Grown in China and Japan and has a bitter-sweet grassy aroma.
  • White Tea – Grown in China, Sri Lanka, India, Kenya, and Malawi.  This tea has a delicate sweet floral aroma.
  • Rooibos Tea – Grown in South Africa and has a full body sweet honey aroma.
  • Oolong Tea – Grown in China and Taiwan and has a Spicy sweet floral aroma.

What Is A Milk Tea, And Can A Tea Barista Prepare It?

Milk tea is a beverage that contains a combination of tea and milk with added ingredients such as honey, sugar, or spices. Milk tea is popular in many cultures around the world; here are a few examples:

  • British milk tea – hot black tea served with a dash of milk
  • Bubble tea or pearl milk tea – sweet tea served with tapioca balls
  • Burmese style milk tea – hot black tea served with condensed and evaporated milk 

A Tea Barista will be able to prepare most drinks that contain tea.   


With the popularity of tea growing rapidly, restaurants and hotels are changing their menus to suit their customer’s needs. The Tea Sommelier and the Tea Barista are in high demand to accomplish specialized tea for the consumers. With his passion and knowledge of tea, the Tea Sommelier will create a delicious and unique cup of tea for you to enjoy.

The next time you order a tea, remember to ask the Barista for a little more information on the beverage they are preparing.   I am sure they would love to tell you all about the antiquity of tea.