Wanted: Trainee to travel the world and drink tea

Tea Buyer Henry Boocock, sampling some of the teas.
Picture: James Hardisty.
Tea Buyer Henry Boocock, sampling some of the teas. Picture: James Hardisty.
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IT’S a job many would die for: travelling the world working at the top of your game - and drinking as much tea as you could dream of.

Taylors of Harrogate is searching for a trainee tea buyer, who will, alongside tasting hundreds of teas per week, travel to far-flung corners of the globe to meet the tea and coffee growers that make Yorkshire Tea and its other products so distinctly tasty.

The world of tea is so much more than the cup you drink every day

Henry Boocock

The right candidate for the rare position will start in the tea tasting room, organising samples and preparing tasting batches, as the palate is trained to pick up the delicate sensitivities of a brew, and the “unique” language of the tea industry is picked up. Up to six months of the initial training will be spent abroad, visiting Africa and Asia.

For tea buyer Henry Boocock, who has spent the last five years at Taylors, its the perfect job. He’d just finished a degree in international business when he heard about a tea buyers’ role.

“It was never a job that I’d even thought about,” he said. “But I was looking for something different - and this ticked all the boxes.

“I enjoyed drinking tea but had never considered it as a career, so came to it with a clean slate.

“Tasting is something you have to learn. They say 95 per cent of us can technically be trained as a professional taster. It’s about teaching your tongue as a muscle to pick up the skill.”

Working alongside people with 30 years’ experience tasting certainly helped - especially when it came to getting to grips with the language of tea.

“When we’re evaluating different teas, we use words and phrases in a way I’d never heard them used before,” Mr Boocock said. “Sometimes, for example, we’d say a tea was brisk, gutty or useful - which means it would be a good tea for us. But if you were ear wigging on the conversation a few eyebrows might get raised.”

For the lucky applicant, dedication and enthusiasm will be key - there’s a lot to learn.

“I’ve been here for five years now and although I’d say I’m technically confident, there’s still a lot to learn,” Mr Boocock said.

“Because tea is an agricultural crop, its always changing, subject to changes in the climate or conditions it’s grown in. We can’t be blasé and expect a certain tea to always taste the same, we have to ensure the quality is kept up.”

But of course there is much more than just tasting to a buyer’s role.

“When you’ve learnt as much as you can here in Harrogate, ticking the final box will be to go the origin of the tea, be it in Malawi, Kenya, India or China, touch the tea plants, meet the key suppliers and understand what is going on on the ground.”

For Mr Boocock, there are many perks of the job.

“Being able to taste so many different types of tea, being spoilt for choice in types, flavours and infusions, is great. The world of tea is so much more than the cup you drink every day.

“Having all that at my fingertips makes me feel very lucky - and travelling to the origins is very special. You get to see first hand the social and environmental impact our projects are having around the world.”

While your palette can be trained, strong social and numerical skills are needed - as is the confidence and flexibility in travelling alone. If you’re up to the challenge, you need to be quick - applications close on Wednesday August 10.

Keeping Yorkshire Tea in your shopping basket

WHILE data suggests us Brits are drinking less tea - with sales slumping by almost a quarter between 2010 and 2015 - Yorkshire Tea is the only brand in the top five to be in consistent growth, up 3.9 per cent in July.

Brand manager Tom Blair said a lot of work goes on behind the scenes at Taylors to ensure Yorkshire Tea stays a staple in your shopping basket.

“When you’re buying Yorkshire Tea it’s not just about selecting a better cup of tea, it’s a belief in Taylors as a brand,” he said.

“We care about what we do, not just in our ethical sourcing, but in things like the hand painted landscape that we commissioned for our packaging.

“You don’t see things like that with other brands.”