Ralf Janecki is an internationally renowned tea taster whose love and passion for tea is the foundation for his success. He carefully selects ALTHAUS teas, creates new blends, and cultivates intensive relationships with preferred producers and packing companies.
He is supported by an international team which considers itself ambassadors of a modern tea culture: young, open, and full of cosmopolitan flair.
ALTHAUS combines the demands for highest product quality with modern production methods, old tea traditions with surprisingly new tea compositions, and attractive design with superb value for money.
ALTHAUS tea experts combine their extensive knowledge of the best tea-growing regions with a sensual connoisseurship and a skillful judgment of product quality. Their fine grasp of delicate blending finds expression in perfectly balanced and innovative tea varieties enjoyed by people all over the world.
Where are you from and where did you grow up?
I am from Lüneburg, which is near Hamburg. My family comes from this area, where they are traditionally rooted in the coffee trade. I, however, chose to go a different path and this is how I ended up in the tea industry.
How did your career in tea start?
After I graduated, I went to South England for a tea internship. They made me ‘pot boy’, the one who prepares the tea tastings and cleans the spit pots afterwards. I scrubbed pots and packed tea samples day in and day out until I started dreaming of tea at nighttime.
At some point during that internship I decided I wanted to become a tea taster as well. I went home to Hamburg, started as a business apprentice at one of the biggest tea factories and started travelling to all the famous plantations: Darjeeling, Assam, Ceylon. There is an unwritten law in the industry that states: It needs 7 years until you start knowing tea. I spent those years learning to the fullest and tasting every kind of tea there is.
Can you tell us a bit about the background of Althaus Tea and what makes it so special in your opinion?
We try to make tea special in its simplicity. Many people don’t dare to put on a cup of really fine tea because they are worried they might spoil it with incorrect water temperatures or brewing times. The secret to good tea is: It is not a mystery. It should not be hard to prepare. If the quality is high, then the preparation comes easily and forgives minor mistakes. That is what Althaus Tea is all about: A top quality product, easily accessible to everyone who likes to drink tea.
Describe an average day for a Tea Taster?
The art of a tea taster is the capacity to remember flavor and taste of many, many teas. This takes a lot of practice. An amount of up to 300 cups a day is quite usual. This is why most tasters spit out the tea instead of swallowing it – it would simply be too much of a good thing. The job also asks for a lot of patience and experience. It takes a long time to create such a database of flavors in your head. Once you have acquired it, you will be able to blend the same-tasting blends every year from different quality harvests. This is basically the main task of a tea taster which he or she is quite indispensable for.
What are a few of your favourite blends and why?
This depends on my daily mood but I usually prefer single origin to the blended teas. The only one that I will always love is from my very first day of tea trade in England: A real English Breakfast blend with a shot of fat milk.
I also love special blends like Althaus’ Milk Oolong, a partly fermented China tea with the aroma of fresh milk. It is extraordinary and very special to me.
Tell us a bit more about the current tea list available at Althaus Tea…
We currently have more than 60 kinds of loose tea on our list, plus an abundance of other packaging like the pyramid bag or grand packs for tea pot portions. There are a lot of classic blends, like the typical Earl Grey in different variations, as well as some quite unusual mixtures that you do not find with other tea brands. Palm Beach, for example, which resembles more of a hot fruity cocktail than a typical fruit infusion. Specialties like Jasmine Pearls Bai Jin show the very high quality of our selection, which is always a little more progressive compared to the very traditional tea market.
What’s hot for next year in terms of tea trends at Althaus Tea?
We are actually working on something quite interesting for next year. It is a variation of the classic matcha tea powder, blended with further spices and flavors to mix it up a little. As usual with Althaus creations, this is a very modern, cosmopolitan product line that we think will hit the zeitgeist of contemporary bar culture.
Find out more information about Althaus here | www.althaustea.de