Christian Elsing, the tea sommelier at Victoria’s Fairmont Empress Hotel, chooses an unexpected beverage to quench his thirst after a strenuous workout. Personally, Elsing likes the taste of tea as his go-to beverage, mixing it with orange juice, lemon juice, a bit of salt, and lots of ice.
If you’re feeling festive, Elsing has you covered with marzipan rooibos or a Grand Bazaar spice tea laced with warm Turkish spices. But what precisely does “tea sommelier” entail? Elsing plays a similar role to sommeliers in the wine industry.
He is well-versed in teas and tisanes, including the subtle differences between green, black, and white teas (all of which are made from the same plant). He explores the history of leaves and herbs, how plantation height affects flavor, and the complex process of collecting tea leaves.
The Madame Butterfly Jasmine of the Empress is one of Elsing’s personal favorites. This remarkable tea has layers of green tea beautifully scented with jasmine through numerous manual rolling and knotting processes. Another interesting option is the Rose Congou Emperor, which was created in a similar way to mimic the floral flavor Princess Diana loved in her cup of tea.