A Different Kind of Sommelier

When I heard about Marc Almert being voted the best Sommelier in the world by ASI (Association de la Sommellerie Internationale), I was first of all happy. Happy, that a fellow German has won this title and that there is hope (half-jokingly), that my German taste buds have some genetic advantage in the world of tasting.

Once the happiness settled in and I congratulated Marc, one of my old questions came back to me: Why is it always wine that is associated with the word Sommelier? As a tea and water sommelier, how do I compare?

It also brings back a point I was advocating for over the past years, that we sommeliers would benefit from collaborating. Let me first be clear for the people which already have started to type comments: in Sommelier terms, wine will always play a major role, there is no question that wine plays a dominant role when it comes to fine beverages in the restaurant world.

But let us ponder an additional question for one moment: how can sommeliers, wine, water, tea or even olive oil or chocolate sommeliers benefit from collaborating with each other? Can the customer experience be enhanced by having a heightened experience as a product from Sommeliers getting along with each other?

Sommeliers from different areas do not need to be in competition with each other. I do not think there needs to be a conversation on which field produces the best sommelier. There is no need to look up or down, as respect for each other’s accomplishments will all move us in the right direction. Each specialist, who is passionate about his or her area can contribute to the table experience and add value to what ultimately the customer will benefit from.

@MartinRiese has successfully demonstrated that water sommeliers add significant value and bring water forward as a significant revenue center for the restaurant. Sommeliers like Martin make water entertaining and important for people to notice. The fine water industry is at the beginning of a new beverage revolution where the conversation on fine water will enter front and center.

How about that certificate?

I agree, that a 4-day summer course, where you are presented with a “Sommelier” certificate will not make you an expert. A one-year Tea Sommelier course which brings you to the ability blind taste tea and determine the year and even the tea plantation does. A hands on, intensive course over 3 months with the fine water academy and the expert guidance from Martin Riese and Michael Masha certainly will.

I remember the summers when my family went off to the beach to relax and I would stay for 8 hours in the kitchen to taste and describe different teas. I remember long weekends of water tastings to develop a palette for water flavors and textures. Tasting is an essential skill for sommeliers and it takes a long time to develop enough confidence to develop a good skill level. Certified Sommeliers in the tea and water industry with credible institutions are passionate individuals who want to make a difference in the world and lead the way to a higher level of spirit and sophistication in their industry.

What is a Sommelier?

If you google ‘Sommelier’ most likely the words ‘Wine waiter’ or ‘Wine steward’ will pop up on the top of the list. Ads for sophisticated wine schools and expensive wine classes will be offered. Other beverages will not appear until far, far down the list and rarely in the context of Sommelier.

Sommelier history

King Philippe V of France first recognized the job of sommelier as a formal profession in the fourteenth century when a ‘sommelier’ was a court official charged with the transportation of supplies. The word came from the Middle French – a ‘saumalier’ was a pack animal driver, derived from the word ‘sauma,’ referring to either the pack animal or the packsaddle. In King Phillipe’s day, the job of sommelier involved keeping the provisions of the royal house well-stocked. It also involved taking nibbles of perishable foods and sips of perishable wines to ensure that they were still edible and had not been poisoned. A wise sommelier would need to take careful stock of the popularity of the nobleman or monarch he chose to serve if he wished to preserve his health!

The modern version of a Sommelier

As a dual Tea and Water Sommelier, certified by the World Tea Academy and the Fine Water Academy, I am enjoying my ability to learn and educate in two different yet equally passionate industries. I made it my mission to be a bridge ambassador, who can connect the world of tea and water and identify opportunities for the hospitality industry. I am working with brand owners to develop strategies and ways to get the public more excited and more educated about incredible products the industry has to offer.

Everybody has a different preference and a different flavor and taste profile. Sommeliers taste hundreds of different products to be able to recommend an option to a customer which they would enjoy. Some people might like sparkling water, some might like a still water, some a green tea and some an oolong tea. We all have a different set of taste buds with which we are enjoying the world and it is the opportunity of sommeliers to find that magic match. Sommeliers can spark interest and highlight the benefits of high-quality products to enhance the customer experience.  

A night to remember

I had a wonderful collaboration experience in November 2018. During a networking event for my current job, I met the Olive Oil Sommelier Benedetta in Italy, who conducted an Olive Oil and Balsamic Vinegar Tasting. I learned new things and most of all I could sense her passion to give people more information about Olive Oil and Vinegar, in order for them to improve their choices and their experience selecting the right oil in the future.

For me that is the essential point: A sommelier has the ability to spark an inspiration in people and show them a side of a beverage they have not seen before and what will make their experience better and more enjoyable.

Each island of the beverage industry produces experts who have a passion and developed a way of presenting their knowledge to people who do not think about beverages in such an extensive way.

As a water and tea sommelier I have the good fortune to be certified in two wonderful industries. What connects these industries is the passion to make their beverage more visible and more exiting to the public.

Conclusion

The bottom line is that Sommeliers from different industries should collaborate more and exchanging perspectives and ideas that will benefit us all. I would love to see a cross industry network of Sommeliers to present their ideas to each other.

I am looking forward to the Fine Water Summit in Stockholm in a few weeks where I will talk about the bridge between Water and Tea and the opportunities for both industries. I am looking forward to exchange ideas with the best of the best in the fine water industry in looking towards new trends for the future.

Looking forward to sharing my insights from the summit here on this blog.

Until then, Stay thirsty!

How to Easily Brew the Perfect Cup of Tea

Everybody has their own preference. Some like tea bags, some like high quality loose leaf tea, some are just somewhere in between. It is not up to me to convert you or decide for you what you find the best. My goal is to make you a little bit more curious and provide you with options for your tea journey.

The perfect cup of tea is the one you like the most. It is the one that hits the spot and has the right taste. The perfect cup will bring joy and a sense of gratification to your day. What could be better than to find an oasis of happiness in the middle of a stressful day. I talked a lot about taste in recent posts and tasting right takes a lot of practice. Bringing a little bit of mindfulness in the way you are making decisions when making your cup of tea can go a long way and ultimately lead to better tea enjoyment in the process.

The key components for the right cup of tea are:

1. The right water

2. A high quality loose leaf tea

3. The right brewing temperature

4. The right brewing time.

You can take this further to the top by selecting special brewing vehicles and a wonderful cup to enjoy the tea in, but I am trying to focus on the essentials. The key is that you create an experience that suits you best and connects with what you like. There is no perfect one-size-fits-all solution.

1. The right water

The quality of water is often overlooked. As a water sommelier this is one of my most important areas of education and also one of the most fascinating. You do not have to be a water sommelier to make a good cup of tea, but if you want to expand on your essential knowledge, I can highly recommend a Fine Water 101 course with The Fine Water Academy to learn the basics.

The best tea water has a ph level (check the label on the bottle) of around 7, and a super low TDS (Total Dissolved Solids), best below 50. (As long it is in the neighborhood of these numbers, you can select a water you like the best. I believe that selecting a wonderful water will only further add to the tea experience by adding a little piece of affordable luxury and will complement the high-quality tea. Remember, 95% of tea is water and a fine water will make such a big difference.

2. A high quality loose leaf tea

I often get the comment: “But this kind of tea is more expensive. Is it worth it?” Totally. The beauty of loose leaf tea is that you can re-steep the same leaves, while with a standard tea bag, you can normally only use once. If convenience is a priority, buy some empty loose leaf tea bags or pyramid teas. Try to research where the tea is coming from, which country, even which state or province. Try to learn more about the characteristics, what is the best way of brewing it, what are the intended flavors or aromas. Most high quality loose leaf tea is produced by experienced tea masters and they turn a leaf into a piece of art and into a wonderful taste.

Certainly there are limits and it’s the same with water or wine. There is the terroir and the conditions that will influence the characteristics of the tea leaf. The soil and the water running trough the ground will have an impact on the growth of the tea plant. A tea plant in the soil of China will be completely different than a tea in the soil of India. The beauty is that you have six types of tea to choose from and thousands of different kinds of tea. Even if you would drink a different tea every day for the rest of your life, you would not be able to experience them all. So pick something you like. If you give me a preferred taste you like, I can guide you in the right direction to fast track your search.

3. The right brewing temperature

Most teas are pretty forgiving. You can boil the water and pour it over the tea leaf and you get a decent cup of tea. Some high quality loose leaf teas are not so forgiving. Use the wrong temperature and the tea will turn bitter or weak. So using the right temperature is essential and the below picture can guide you in the right direction. You do not need a thermometer. Just use the fisheye method to ‘eye ball’ the right temperature. When you see bubbles on the bottom of the pot, it will tell you about the temperature of the water. Tiny bubbles (the size of shrimp eyes) will be a water temperature of about 160F, while the size of fish eyes will be about 180F).

4. The right brewing time

If you brew some teas too long, they become too bitter. Brew it for too short an amount of time and they become too weak. In the picture below you can see the right combination for a tea type. You might have to experiment a little bit to find just the right spot for your tastes.

Conclusion

Being mindful of these components will result in a better cup of tea, one that you never imagined. It is like flying business class for the first time and never wanting to go back to economy. Life is full of obstacles and challenges. Treat yourself to a nice cup of tea and great a little piece of happiness to brighten your day. Choose a favorite cup or mug to drink the tea to further elevate your experience.

If you know the background of the water you are brewing the tea in, the culture and terroir of the tea leaf, brew it at the right temperature and at the right time, I guarantee you that you will create something magical, something special to be remembered. And you can use this knowledge to bring joy to your friends and family. Nothing creates happiness more than a wonderfully brewed cup of tea, at least for me.

Stay Thirsty!

Energize Yourself to Make Your Day More Productive

Over the past year I spent a lot of time implementing habit loops, to make my days more productive and ensure I can get the best results out of my time. I love the concept of ‘Return on Energy’, asking myself the question: with a minute (or an hour or day) spent, what did I got out of it? How has this energy spent on this minute helped my life? Has it been able to grow me as a person? Of course there will be minutes you perceive as ‘boring’ or ‘normal’ but it will be about your perspective on how you value your time and what you decide to do with it.

In this blog post I will give you powerful tips to implement small hacks to create positive habit loops that will help to advance your life. I sorted them by time of day, so you can decide what best fits into your daily routine. Hydration is tricky. We normally drink water when we get thirsty. When your brain receives the ‘thirsty’ signal it is normally too late, your organs have already started to struggle to function optimally. The key in hydration is to drink water throughout the day to keep the engine and your systems running smoothly. Most people underestimate this. If you hydrate constantly, good for you and you are ahead of the game.

Your body is made from 70% water. Give it the attention it needs.

Wake up

Our normal instinct is to get up and kick start the brain with caffeine, either a coffee or a tea. What our body needs most first thing in the morning is a glass of water to replenish the liquid lost during the night. With every breath we are exhaling tiny droplets of water. By the end of a good night’s sleep, you will have exhaled a cup of water! That first glass in the morning will jump start your organs and will prepare the metabolism to be ready for breakfast.

Add a few drops of lemon juice which will give you a good initial boost of Vitamin C in the morning. If you have water with a high TDS (Total Dissolved Solids) available, go for it. Minerals will help your body to get started. If you only have tap water within reach, add a little salt to it to help your body with minerals. The key will be to develop a daily routine to help your body to become stronger and healthier.

Breakfast

Make it a habit to have a glass of water with your tea (or coffee) for breakfast. While cups of coffee and tea will help with your daily liquid intake, it is the caffeine which will dehydrate you. A nice glass of water with breakfast will help you to hydrate better and assist your body with digesting the food. You can brighten your day by adding a nice brand of fine water from an interesting part of the world. When you eat with your family this could be a good conversation starter and a way to learn something new.

Morning

Hydration does not stop after breakfast. As you jump into your busy day, water can become your companion. I always carry a water bottle with me and sip once in a while and it gives me a good feeling. I feel that despite the challenges I am facing that day, I continue to invest into my body and support my wellness. In addition, I love to have a cup of tea by my side and I always take a moment to appreciate the taste of the tea I have picked for myself that moment.

We are working together with people, we are working towards larger projects, but it is important not to forget about investing in yourself constantly. The better you become, the more productive you will be. Always remember the safety instruction on an airplane. First put the oxygen mask onto yourself and then you can help your loved ones and those you travel with.

Lunch

Make every day special. The more you can mix things up and create variety the better and happier you will be. We all face challenges and we all are surrounded by things we cannot control, but focus on the things you can control. When you have lunch, be curious and select a new brand of water you have not tried yet. Focus on the taste. How does it compare to the water you normally drink? It will add a new little taste experience and it will enhance your day.

Afternoon

My energy normally drops in the afternoon. That’s where I get my secret weapon out – a strong black tea. I have been trying this habit for a few weeks now and it works like magic. The strong tea will bring back my needed energy more gradually and it will help me to focus and accomplish my remaining tasks for the day.

Evening

Dinner will be an opportunity to relax and unwind from a busy day. Adding a nice fine water rather then the dull glass from the tap will add a little pleasure, a little piece of luxury, to celebrate your accomplishments of the day. Try a nice sparkling water, which will also have the benefit to replenish your minerals, aid with your digestion and will get you ready for the night.

Night

Have a water near your bedside. This way if you get thirsty in the middle of the night , you can replenish your fluids quickly. Pick a water with a medium to high TDS to add a bit of minerals and help your body in the middle of the night. As you fall asleep and recover from a busy day, remember that water and tea have been there to boost your day a little bit and make it more pleasurable.

I hope these little reflections and hacks got you thinking about how you can improve your day. We certainly do not focus on water or tea the whole day and surely I am thinking about this way more then you need, but I am here to help.

Feel free to reach out to me if you need ideas for specific brands and where to get them. That’s what we sommeliers are for, to give you ideas which match your taste. With hundreds and hundreds of amazing brands, it’s no easy task, but somebody’s got to do it.

Stay thirsty!

The Overlooked Secret of Healthy Minerals in Your Water

We all drink water to hydrate. Many think that as long as the water is clean and comes from a safe source, it will be fine for us. We spend a lot of time thinking about what kind of foods we are eating and have developed different tastes and preferences. However we seem to treat water as more of an afterthought.

I would like to shed some light on the magic inside of water. Each kind of water is different. The mineral content in spring and mineral waters can vary from town to town and from brand to brand. What turns me off to tap water, even though it is safe to drink, is that it does not contain enough minerals. It also contains other chemicals that are not normally found in nature. Let me equip you with the basics of minerals in water so next time you choose a water in the store you can make a better choice. I will also tell you about minerals you should avoid.

During my water tastings I have been able to get people to think more about what is in their water and to look at the water label. The European label will be a bit more descriptive compared to an American one, but a lot of mineral data can be obtained online.

The Basics

The basic minerals most waters have in common are Calcium, Magnesium, Sodium, Potassium,  Bicorbonate and Silica. Most waters will have a combination of them. The amount depends on the journey the water took – from when it was rain, to the source. The overall mineral content is measured

Calcium (Ca++)

Calcium is good for your bones. Your body needs lots of it every day. It is also good for your teeth and cell membranes, for the transmission of nerve and muscle impulses and it also helps prevent blood clots. Normally the number on the label will be less then 100 mg/l but it’s good if you find a brand which has a higher amount.

A glass of clean mineral water in a woman’s hands. Concept of environment protection, healthy drink.

Magnesium (Mg++)

This mineral is a big part of your cells. It is needed for the regulation of muscle contractions and the transmission of nerve impulses. It also activates energy-producing enzymes. Your bones need magnesium, as it helps to expand blood vessels which lessens the risk of heart attacks. Many deficiencies such as nervousness, lack of concentration, dizziness, headaches and migraines come from not having enough magnesium in your body.  A normal brand will have about 20 mg/l.

The health importance of Magnesium

Sodium (Na+)

Plain old Salt. It’s interesting that salt water has a TDS of 35,000 and it is not recommended to drink salt water as it will dehydrate your body. While many foods have plenty of salt in them, we do not have to worry about not having enough salt. The opposite is the true. Most water brands will have 10 mg/l but some amazing brands like Vichy Catalan can have over 1,200 mg/l.

Potassium  (K+)

Our body needs about 2 – 4 grams per day. The pressure of water between cells is regulated by potassium. It plays a special role in muscle contraction and our heartbeats. A potassium deficiency can weaken skeletal muscle and make smooth muscles tired. Normally you will find 5 mg/L of potassium in most brands.

11298042 – potassium form periodic table of elements – 3d made

Bicarbonate (HCO3-)

This mineral is essential for maintaining the body’s ph balance. It is also found in your stomach. Typically you will find 50 – 200 mg/l in most water brands. It neutralizes lactic acid generated by physical activity.

Glass of water with baking soda on white background

Silica (SiO2)

Most adults need between 20 – 30 mg daily. It reduces the risk of heart disease and prevents osteoporosis. It also helps to repair tissue by serving as an antioxidant. Normally you will find 20 mg/L. Some waters like Fiji and Healis will have a much higher content, which will give it a distinctive taste.

Nitrates

This is one mineral you do not want to see in your water. In the water industry, the level of Nitrates will give you an indication of the environment the water source is in. Water with no nitrates is considered superior and is a good one to go for. Water with 7 – 10mg is still acceptable, while the total amount should not exceed 50 mg/l.

Nitrate free food label outline icon. linear style sign for mobile concept and web design. Line vector icon. No chemicals symbol, logo illustration. Pixel perfect vector graphics

Go and explore

With a basic understanding of the main minerals in water, now go out and explore new waters! Waters with a high TDS will have a combination of these minerals (hopefully minus the nitrates) and will give the water a distinctive taste and wellness benefits for your body. As you go through your day, it is good to have a partner with you that can help you to support your body. Keep sipping water throughout the day!

Stay thirsty…

Following Footsteps ….Selecting fine waters in Berlin

Inspired by @MartinRiese’s visit to the KaDeWe department store in Berlin, I decided to give it a try. I thought that for sure I would be met by a larger variety then I would find in Myanmar.

I took the opportunity to create tasting notes about waters I have never experienced. Germany is a great country to try new waters with hundreds and hundreds of different springs. Trying water will expand your palette and give a greater understanding on the diversity of water brands.

In this blog post I would like to give you further tips on what to look for when selecting that special bottle of water, what are great finds and what are some of the risks when being faced with new, unknown waters. You also find will come across bad finds which are not so much fine waters, but rather more like fake news.

Below is a selection of waters you can find in one of the largest department stores in Berlin, the ‘Kaufhaus des Westens’ – the department store of the West, one of Berlin’s most luxurious malls. Up on the 6th floor is the fabled Food and Drink section and the water area did not disappoint me. Here are some of my finds:

Evian  – Chiara Ferragni Limited Edition (France)

Evian is a water known all over the world. You can can get it in almost every fine restaurant around the world. What makes this brand special is that it has become more then just a water, but a way of life. I always enjoy seeing Evian travel waters at the airport with different city themed water bottles.

At KaDeWe I found a wonderful glass bottle designed by Chiara Ferragni, the famous fashion icon from Italy. It is a great example to take a well known water (you can’t go wrong with the taste) and add a wonderful visual experience to your dinner table. For sure it will be catching the eyes of your dinner guests and you can present a wonderful story as part of your dinner experience. A water does not have to be a glass of water but can also come with a story.

Sonnenstein – Hexagonal Primary water (Germany)

This water is a good example that a brand’s story sometimes can go too far or simply is wrong. Some water brands are eager to enter the fine water market and will present you with a story which sounds good. Sonnenstein, which comes in a pretty and elegant water bottle, claims to be a hexagonal water, where the molecules are aligned to provide extra health benefits.

Be cautious when a water brand tries to present health benefits, because mostly they are not true. Minerals in water will provide you benefits but be cautious if specific health claims are listed. Water is for wellness, hydration and enjoyment. The brand will present you a ‘scientific’ explanation and will charge a premium for their health claims, which are almost always unfounded. Same goes for Alkanine water which is not much more than a marketing scam.

Healsi (Portugal)

When I explored the waters at KaDeWe this one popped out right away. The water comes in three different colors; white, blue and pink in an amazing, diamond shaped bottle.

The water has a low TDS of 189 but interestingly has a high silica content. We mostly know silica from Fiji water and it gives water a smooth and elegant taste people like so much. Healsi is another good example.

The water has a smooth and soft mouthfeel with a very round taste. I love these waters which are pleasant to drink and easy to remember.

Nevas Water Cuveé (Germany)

When I first noticed that bottle in the store, I thought a champagne bottle had been misplaced on the shelf. Nevas Water brands itself as a luxury table water as a Cuvee. For me, it’s a great example that it does not always have to be a fancy champagne for a special occasion. Nevas would be perfect for any special occasion.

When you pour Nevas into a glass you instantly notice the strong and bold bubbles like you would see in a Perrier or in a Gerolsteiner sparkling water. The taste is impressive. The intensity of the bubbles creates an energetic dance around the tongue. I loved the vibrancy and the uplifting feeling during the tasting, which is quite unique. It’s a pricey but worthwhile water for a special occasion.

Vai Wai (Fiji)

We mostly know water from Fiji as ‘Fiji Water’. While it is widely available around the world as a mega brand and very popular, it is only one of the waters available in Fiji. I was curious to try another brand and to see how it matches up to the well known Fiji water. My first impression was the wonderful bottle and I was pleased to learn that the bottle is biodegradable.

Vai Wai has a crisp and initial impression. I found it special as it has an elevating high note at the finish. It quickly wraps around the tongue leading to a pleasant finish.  

I hope these water selections have inspired you to visit a water section in a store nearby and select a water for your next dinner or occasion with friends and family. There is so much to explore and to be gained by learning more about these fascinating waters.

Stay thirsty!

5 quick changes before Valentines Day that will make your life better

The internet is full of articles about making your life stronger and better. Companies will try to sell you stuff which you don’t need or will promise you a short cut to an easier life. We are disappointed when they do not live up to their promise and sink further into despair.

The following five tips are from my own life, they are proven and have done amazing things for me. And most importantly they will not cost you a fortune, some of them are even free, and will improve your live in significant and long lasting ways. We are looking for big changes but sometimes the best improvements are right under our nose.

Hydration

The game changer. One of the areas that will have the biggest impact on your life. Chances are that you drink water once you are thirsty or you have a beverage with your meal. You don’t think about water on a constant basis, even though you consist of 70% water. We focus on so many things in our life but we ignore the most important aspect of our body because we believe it is working and does not need much attention.  Many meetings and places I go to, I am the only one carrying around a water bottle with me. If you are one of the few people who bring (hopefully reusable) water bottle, you are ahead of the game. Just by sipping water through the day you support your body and your brain in many functions, you provide the oil for your engine. Try the 8 x 8 rule, 8 glasses of 8z per day, easy to remember. After a few weeks of sipping water on a constant basis, you will not even notice it anymore, sip on autopilot and your body will be up and running.

While many people reach for the faucet in the morning, you can kick start your day in a much better way.  Drink a glass of fine mineral water first thing in the morning and you tell your day that you mean business. Your body will receive a jump start portion of minerals to fire up all vitals. Your organs and metabolism will thank you. You can even add a spritz of lemon to the water for an extra boost of vitamin C.

Fine Water at Dinner

The conversationalist. With most people using water from the tab, using water for dinner becomes uninspiring, dull and boring. By having an interesting, exotic and unique mineral water at your dinner table will enhance your experience, you can add something special to your evening at small cost. We will have the opportunity to talk about where the water comes from with our family, dream about an exotic location at a rain forest or mountain area. We will experience a unique taste from a different part of the world. Life is all about special moments and creating unique experiences, even during a normal, routine work day. The more you can enhance your normal day and make it special, the more value the day will have to you and your mood will increase. Life for me is to create a growing mosaic of meaningful moments.

With valentines day around the corner, you can make your dinner special by ordering a wonderful bottle of fine still or sparkling water along side your food. Impress your date with stories about where the water came from, the romantic environment of a rain forest or mountain stream. Water is life and it is good sometimes to dream.

Fine Water Tea

The enhancer. Most people make their tea with tab water. You work hard, you invest everything you got into your life,you purchased an amazing high quality loose leaf tea,  you deserve the best cup of tea possible. Using the right water for making your tea will bring out the best flavor and your taste buds will thank you for that. Tea water is a vessel to bring our the best in tea as the tea master has intended. Use high quality spring water for tea water. I know it will be a bit more pricey then running it from the filter or tab, but you deserve a good cup of tea and not just an average one. Look at the label. Select a water with a super low TDS level (below 50 if possible) and a ph level of 7. Any other water will not give you the best possible experience. A water with a high mineral level will interfere with the minerals in the tea itself and the ideal taste will be off.

Life is too short to drink a bad tea.

Tea of the day

Diversity. We are living in times where diversity and cultural connections are more important than ever and that’s good. Diversity will make us stronger and we can only learn more from each other. The most interesting thing about tea is the thousands of different types and blends and mixes which are available around the planet. We could drink a different tea for the rest of our lives and just have experienced a fraction of what is available. And new types are coming onto the market every day. Sommeliers are here to identify the best solution for you. You like a certain taste. You might like it more fruity, more sweet, more milky or like me ultra pure. Make it a habit to include a new tea every day, learn about different tastes, research the tea, ask sommeliers more about a certain tea type. I am here to help you to make the best out of your day and make your day special.

Fine Water and Friends

The socializer. Water and tea are great platforms to share new experiences with friends and family. Next time you go to a restaurant, see what waters or teas are on the menu. Ask the waiter what they have. You can share this new experience with your friends and you can impress your family with your knowledge about a certain water or tea. Like any knowledge there is so much around us which we have not experienced yet, which is just waiting for to be explored.

You can gift that knowledge. You can gift a special someone in your life with a water 101 course at the fine water academy to learn more about water.

I hope these tips have send a spark of inspiration your way and make you think about trying one of these tips out for yourself. They are small ideas and changes but can have a big impact on your life.

Stay thirsty.

How to smash your day with water and tea at your side.

We all want to get the most out of our day. You want to be full of energy, conquer your goals and be successful. We are constantly on a quest to find the best inspirational solutions to get us trough the day. Sometimes the best solutions are where we least expect them – right in front of our nose.

To master the challenges of the day we need loads of energy, inspiration, good mood and grit to stand our grounds in the complex world we are living in.

Millions of dollars are spent each month on bigger and better things to make us grow. Sometimes it is simply what we call affordable luxury, a small token with high purpose which will have the biggest impact on our life.

We normally treat water to quench our thirst, many do not see water as an indulgence to make our day. This is when fine water comes into the picture.

Start the day

To start the day with a fine water which suites our taste, may it be with bubbles or without, will set our mood into the right direction. Knowing more about where the water came from, picturing the clear mountain stream or the snow capped mountain will enhance our spirit. We can choose a water from a tropical paradise or from a stream nearby, the possibilities are endless. The important element is that we bring meaning into our present moment, rather then just opening up the faucet and get some tab water.

In the past years I made it a joyful practice every morning to pick out one tea a day and drink at the office, re-steeping a high quality loose leaf tea which keeps on giving. This year I am going one step further. I am selecting several teas and matching them to my energy and mood level throughout the day.  I found one more habit loop which can make me more productive and brings more joy to my day.

Having tea and fine water in my life is something I am always grateful for and which I am trying to appreciate on a daily basis.

Fine Water

Fine Water gives me the ability to fine tune my hydration needs and to make sure that I take in the right level of minerals needed for my daily growth. My zero-calorie drink habit forces me to search for the most desirable taste and flavor paired with the satisfaction that I am fully in charge of my calorie intake.

Select a Tea to fit your mood

My tea selection in the first half of the day is normally more mellow – white and green teas are the order of the day. I still enjoy the ritual in the morning to fill up empty cotton tea bags with my favorite high quality loose leaf tea. It brings me so much joy to check in with my mood for that day and select the perfect match. Some days I select a Japanese Sencha or a Dragonwell tea from China. Other days I will go for a Anji Ba cha or a Yin Zen. For the afternoon normally I pick a strong black tea. I tend to lose some of my energy in the afternoon, so I am in need of a pick-me-up. I normally tend to pick a strong second flush Darjeeling tea or a traditional Earl Grey. It has made a big difference in the dynamics and productivity in the afternoon.

For me the tea and water experience is a complete package. Try to explore the terroir of a fine water and tea, research the source of a water, look at the TDS and mineral levels to better understand what to expect from a certain fine water.

Research the terroir of a tea, where it comes from , what the desired taste should be and how it should be brewed. Select a cup or mug which connects with you. All these elements combined set the foundation for a great beverage experience. When the fine water or tea hits your taste buds, it will build on this knowledge and the experience becomes so much more rich.

These are the simple pleasures, the affordable luxuries which can positively enhance your day. We are living in a complex world surrounded by challenges, but you have the ability to control and positively impact your day with these little habits and procedures. When your focus zooms away from the noise which is around us and we focus on the joyful moments and environments which we have created, our lives will improve and our mood will change for the better.

Stay Thirsty!

We All Want The Same Thing From Taste -Zero Calorie Drinks

One habit I’ve gained from my zero calorie drink habit is to find creative ways in finding satisfying tastes and flavors. Just because I have elected not to consume calories in my drinks does not mean I do not want to have fun and find excitement in my life. By contrast, it has challenged me to find new ways to fulfill that need. I love the fact that I can better control my calorie intake and my overall diet.

A few suggestions and tips if you would like to try something similar

I realized that we are all the same when it comes to what we want from our drink selections. Yet the result and the outcomes of our desires are vastly different and can be either good or bad for your health. I am trying to nudge you down the path of a more healthy diet in 2019.

We all look for a taste that excites our taste buds. Sadly in today’s world we are sometimes just ‘downing’ our food and drinks without paying attention to how they taste to us. I guess if it does taste not bad, it must be good.

What makes us taste differently?

For a sommelier this becomes the eternal question. Sure, it would be simpler if we all liked a few tastes – a few products on the market – done. But having this infinite diversity of tastes and cultures is what makes our job as sommelier so special, so unique. We try to guide you in finding your personal product which matches your taste. We all have a different amount of taste buds with different intensity and yes, the tasting map is still a myth.

Yet there is so much more to tasting, and being mindful about it will enhance the quality of our life. I am able now to find great taste in water thanks to the education of the Fine Water Academy. I am able to select different teas based on my mood or the time of the day to enhance that time of the day and to bring more energy to the day.

Short cuts

Sometimes we are keen to find short cuts. That is not only true for tastes but also for other areas in life. When we drink a soft drink we like the taste combined with the sugar rush that kicks in immediately after the first sip. We like the little buzz we get after the first cocktail or alcoholic drink together with the taste.

Imagine a world where you do not have that sugar kick or buzz but experience the world as it is. Drinks that do not put your system into insulin lock down or shut down your brain cells. Living a sober and on the extreme side, zero calorie drink life has done more for me than I could have ever imagined. Gone are the days of hangovers or bad stomach aches due to ‘something’ I drank the night before.

As I started to combine my drink diet with better nutrition, mindfulness and fitness, something magical happened. I started to dream bigger dreams, achieve higher goals and feel better about myself. I am able to reach for the stars and grab them with only the sky being the limit. I gave up something small but gained a much better and fulfilled life.

The taste of water

The taste of water continues to fascinate me. I am travelling around the globe with open eyes, experiencing the world more in a more mindful way and discovering things I could have not imagined before. I see globalization not as a threat but as an opportunity to grow and expand in my abilities every day. And I am achieving that with feeling good about myself. A major part is due to my perspective on life and my relationship to taste.

15067806 – dripping heart over the water

I continue to explore the relationship between water and food. Since my studies with the fine water academy and my eye opening visit to the water library, I am continuing to explore matching and contrasting pairs of water and food. My all time favorite is Vichy Catalan and dark chocolate. This is an amazing example of how two different components that taste great individually, can create a flavor symphony together. If you have access to this water and dark chocolate, try it. You will not be disappointed. Also, the podcast of Martin Riese has great episodes on food and water as well of course the amazing fine water facebook site.

Just yesterday I tried one of my favorite flavor experiments and I would highly recommend it to you. I brewed a cup of Earl Grey from a standard supermarket tea bag and a cup of high quality Earl Grey made from a high quality loose leaf tea.

Flat vs Flavorful

The different is staggering. The standard tea bag tea will taste flat, but if you are used to this taste you will not notice the difference. Its like flying business class for the first time. Once you experience that it is hard to go back to economy.

A high quality loose leaf tea will come in dimensions. You will have a great entrance of the tea. It will swirl around and leave your taste buds nourished and excited. Great teas will stay in your memory and will make a taste impression for a long time to come.

The same goes for water.  If you taste tap water it will be an OK experience, but once you compare it with a high quality fine water from an amazing source you do not want to go back. There are waters that will leave you longing for more which you will remember years after you first tasted them.

One such water for me is Cotorella from Italy. It is something about the stage between the mouth feel as it is swirling around and the finish. It leaves you wanting to take another sip.

So with that go out and explore the great waters and teas this world has to offer and hopefully they will bring a little bit of joy into your life.

Stay Thirsty!

How to Find Tea and Water Inspiration In Stunning Japan

With the holidays now behind us (☹ ) , it is time for me to reflect on the past few days and weeks. For me travel is always a journey of inspiration. Our Christmas trip this year brought us to Japan, a country that has such a deep tea culture. I had also been in Japan in 1993 and was looking forward to showing my family around.

The holiday period also gave me time to look forward to the new year and to think about where to take my sommelier experience. My goal in the tea and water world is to continue to inspire as many people as possible and to raise awareness and excitement for high quality tea and fine water. I want to continue working with the Myanmar hospitality industry to make an impact on raising awareness of fine water and learn more about high quality tea. I am in need of practical tea making experience and hope that 2019 will be the year I can work on a tea plantation. We have only reached the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the best water and tea experience.

My tea and water blog

From now on I will blend both industries into this one blog. My experience in the tea world can benefit the fine water industry. And my amazing experience learning about fine water will help to inspire the tea industry to use better quality water when brewing tea. I aim to further develop my skills to become a bridge ambassador between the water and tea industries and bring value to both. I do not want to have ‘just another tea and water blog’ but want to ‘oooh’ and ‘ahh’ you with my entries. Sometimes thinking about one industry helps me to understand the other one better. They are certainly not in isolation, but are linked to other areas and categories in the hospitality industry.

Tea in Japan is everywhere. It is firmly embedded in traditions, in the culture and for sure in any restaurant you will eat at. Japan produces and consumes 90% green tea. I was excited to find Japanese black tea at a shop on the bottom of Mt. Fuji together with amazing green teas.

It was great to experience the combination of tea as a drink and as a food. Two of my favorite things: freshly brewed Japanese green tea and green tea ice cream.

The first tea experience when we arrived in Tokyo was at the Hama Rikyu Gardens. We found ancient tea houses, some of them have been rebuilt with amazing materials and a passion for original details. A tea house in the gardens offered matcha tea with sweets. I had to think back to my first visit to Japan in 1993 and how we were privileged to experience a traditional tea ceremony. My wonderful tea educator, Donna Fellmann has studied the tea ceremony for decades. It is a world of tea rituals and procedures which work together to create the best experience for its guests.

For the kids there was a different kind of fun – tea cups in Disneyland!

I just love how readily tea is available in Japan. Everywhere there are vending machines dispensing ready to drink tea. I loved this matcha as a morning drink!

In the evening I would order Oolong tea in a restaurant, served in a wonderful tea pot and tiny tea cups. In the western world it is not common yet to drink tea together with a meal, it is rather a dessert option. I found it wonderful to pair my teas with the respective dish. An Oolong with a roasted and complex flavor pairs well with a meaty and hearty dish.

Find this print on Redbubble

While being inspired by the peace and tranquility of Japan, I was able to reflect on the fine water category as well. The hotel we stayed in had a water dispenser machine. It got me thinking that the relationship of people with water is impacted by such machine. We see wine as precious coming out of a fancy bottle. However we are used to water coming from a tap or a dispensing machine. 

How do we change this relationship? How to we make people feel more interested in fine water and the benefits it comes with? These are questions I will ponder more in 2019.

I will leave you with my wish that you spend 2019 a bit more mindful about water and tea and get inspired to try the best of the best for a little piece of affordable luxury.  

Stay Thirsty!

How to create your happy life in 2019 guaranteed – Turning wine into water

As we approach the end of the year, we start reflecting on what went well and what did not. We will search deep for our desires and sometimes will feel regret on what we didn’t have time to do. What if I can show you a way that your desires will come true in 2019 without promising you a magic pill? What if there are achievable ways to make time for your dreams and growing as a person? What if I told you that there is a way to become happy by making small changes? And it is all in front of you in and it is as simple as water

This year has been amazing in so many ways. Working with Michael Masha and Martin Riese to become a Water Sommelier has been a life changing experience. Becoming the first graduate of the Fine Water Academy has just been the icing on the cake.

What this year has done has changed my relationship with liquids, in particular with alcohol and my transition to my zero-calorie drink intake.

Yes, you read that correctly. I do not consume any calories when taking drinks. Period. What sounds like a dull and boring experience has become an elevation of my life perspective and a substantial improvement of my health to levels I would have never imagined to be possible. It is an entirely different world.

 I only consume three type of drinks: Water, Tea and Coffee. All of them in their natural and purest form do not contain any calories. That requires skipping sugar or milk or anything else. The trick is how to make it interesting, have fun in life and experience joy and flavor with this horrible sounding drink mix.

Let’s start with the benefits.

Go back 15 months ago and you would find me in the evening on the couch in a sad mood having consumed glasses of wine to dull the sadness. I was exhausted, depressed due to heart problems, and morbidly obese. I did not have any energy and was not looking forward to what was coming. My marriage and my relationship to my kids where hanging by a thin thread, spiraling downwards. My doctors did not make my life outlook too promising unless I decided to change something radically.

Then came October 2017. Something made ‘click’ and the pieces were slowly falling into place. I joined a group called ‘One Year NoBeer (OYNB)’ to find that straw of hope to cling on to. Once you sign up, you receive a short daily video on Day 1 , Day 2 and so on. Each video would focus on what can be done to change your life, one single step at a time. I started to take small steps, and made small changes. Eventually the small changes started to lead to big changes. The OYNB community would lift me up, put energy under my wings to make me fly higher and be myself. One day became 28 , 28 days became 90 days and 90 days became 365 days. One year without a single drop of alcohol!

What sounded like a horrific, sad and uncomfortable journey has become the best journey of my life. Back to the present. I lost 75 pounds, maintained my target weight for the past 5 months (BMI 22.5), have perfect blood pressure (114/71) and I am starting to see the shape of a six pack (not in the form of cans but on my stomach). I experience levels of energy I haven’t seen in 15 years and my family could not be more happy with me.

Having control over your calorie intake for drinks gives you better control over your nutrition management and ultimately over your wellness for the day. Instead of a constant roller coaster ride of cravings and energy lows and highs, it is a more stable and joyful experience. One that lets you focus on growth and a balanced approach towards health and happiness. 

That single step in October 2017 created a journey which continues to elevate me to new heights.

How to do it?

Being a water and tea sommelier has helped a lot. Through the fine water academy I learned to experience and appreciate water on a different level. I learned to see water as an affordable luxury. I started to learn about the origins and the taste profiles of water and how water can become not just a hydration tool but also an enjoyable part of my dining experience. During my journey I learned that balance is essential to move forward and grow as a person. Complement this with the varieties of tea and coffee and I have all that I need to enjoy my life, while maintaining my health.

 

When we grow up we are culturally programmed. We are told at a young age that in order to have fun we need to drink alcohol and that it is cool to drink with your friends. Advertising for alcohol is all around us and many studies are trying to convince us that alcohol in moderation is good for our health. What the ads do not tell us is what alcohol is doing to our body, not only the drink, but the sugar and the calories. The ads do not tell us what  alcohol does to our energy levels and to our development.

“Having alcohol is borrowing happiness from tomorrow”

We all want to be happy. Our whole life purpose is to stay happy or to become happier. We are told that alcohol is the solution, that once we drink we will be happy. Yet sometimes we do not understand the difference between happiness and pleasure. Pleasure can be good or bad and it might not lead to the road to happiness. A short term pleasure kick might set us on the path to illness. A lot of addictions prove that. Our body likes the feeling once we drink alcohol but regret sets in the next morning when we have a hangover. Somehow we forget and the cycle starts over again, looking for that happiness.

Shortcuts 

The marketing world around us is so helpful. They present us with shortcuts so we do not have to put in the hard work to grow or to achieve happiness. They suggest us that short term pleasure (over and over) is good for us and that sustainable and long term happiness is a fiction. Here is a pill to make you happy. Here is a pill for weight loss. Have a beer to make you feel better and to get comfortable. Take this drink to achieve great things. Have this comfort food to make you feel better.

Wrong. 

Short cuts (the way marketing suggests) almost never lead to happiness. They give us instant gratification but they will be soon over and the problems will be still there, in some cases even worse.

 

Over the past year I have learned to become happy by drinking water. I enjoy the different tastes and stories behind the waters. I am on a path to show people that drinking mineral water can be cool and can improve your taste experience and your wellness. This is my mission as a water sommelier and I am joined by a few converted who hopefully can join together to reach the broader masses. With my OYNB friends we feel like the unplugged from the movie ‘The Matrix’, seeing real life as it really is. A big part of becoming a better human is to help others and as a water sommelier I am planning to do just that.

Having a life that makes me a happy, while at the same time makes me grow, keeps me healthy and elevates my ability to function as a better human being. It is priceless. I am trying to reach out to you, to help you to see that once you give up a little bit (like booze) you can gain something bigger (a happy and fulfilled life). 

I hope you can join me on that quest. Feel free to reach out to me for further details. For my fellow OYNB friends, I have written 10 blogs on the OYNB facebook page on my main success factors to stay sober and have fun for 365 days. 

Stay thirsty!