Meet The Tea Expert Who's Giving Sommeliers A Run For Their Money
Get acquainted with Vetida Namprasert, the tea sommelier bringing her expertise to Auckland's newest inner-city hotel
You’ve heard of a wine sommelier — the well-informed wine professional who sidles up to your restaurant table to impart their knowledge of a wine’s origins, tasting notes and food pairings. In the same vein comes a tea sommelier, a tea expert who understands different tea varieties, their origins and environments, and what makes that tea unique.
Hailing from Vietnam, Vetida Namprasert (Som) is a tea sommelier at Auckland’s newest inner-city hotel, SO/ Auckland. In Asian culture, people treat tea with the same appreciation and care as the French do wine, and Som is well-versed in the tasting notes, smell and ceremony involved with drinking tea. She works with guests at SO/Auckland to discover a speciality tea that works for their preference and palate.
Som brings with her a wealth of tea experience — she completed her tea sommelier training in New Zealand and was an integral part of developing a 45-strong tea menu at a previous hotel. At SO/ Auckland, Som has created four bespoke speciality teas available at Mixo bar on the ground floor of the hotel. All four teas draw their inspiration from Auckland’s unique volcanic landscape.
These blends include The Morning After, a full-bodied black tea to kick-start your morning; Som’s Special Grey, a smooth yet subtle black tea spiced with bergamot, citrus, lemongrass, cornflowers and jasmine; The Big Smoke, a Chinese tea with strong, smoky pinewood flavours; and So Spicy, a South African red bush tea with cocoa and orange peel, cocoa bean, cinnamon, chocolate stars, jatoba, raspberry flakes, sandalwood and beetroot pieces.
Guests can enjoy a chilled tea upon arrival called SO/ Heart, which looks to kawakawa leaf and promotes healthy heart, liver and lungs. And should you crave something a little stronger, the tea-infused cocktails are said to be tea-riffic.
• SO/ Auckland, 67 Customs St, Auckland Central, 1010.