What Is a Teaologist?

Julia Bainbridge
·Food Editor
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The teaologist’s kitchen? Photo credit: © StockFood / Del Olmo, Henri

While everyone’s hysterical over the fact that Oprah has debuted a blend of tea, Teavana Oprah Chai, it was something else about the report that caught our attention:

“Oprah Winfrey personally developed the tea with Teavana’s leading teaologist Naoko Tsunoda,” reported Yahoo Finance.

Teaologist? Wuz dat?

"My official title is Director of Tea Development & Tea Authority, though internally those with my background can be referred to as a ‘teologist.’ This is someone who shares a deep passion for tea and tea culture," Tsunoda told us in an email.

"A Teavana Teaologist is someone who engages and educates customers about the ritual and enjoyment of tea," she continued. "Teologists are experts in the art of discovering and blending the world’s finest loose-leaf teas to create delicious and unique flavor profiles."

So it’s a Teavana-specific term? Innovative Beverage Concepts produces a tea line called Teaology, but that’s not the same thing. And while the company seems to have started a Teaologist Twitter handle, it’s not active and has but nine followers.

We checked in with Ravi Kroesen, operations manager and tea buyer for Brooklyn-based artisanal tea company Bellocq.

“It’s a marketing term,” he said. “That’s the short answer. The media is very good at doing that, getting a catch phrase to simplify [something].” (Oh, you mean like a beer sommelier?)

That said, Kroesen seemed in favor in favor of the growing interest in tea. “I’ve been involved since the late ’90s and early 2000s—we were in Dark Ages compared to what we know now—and an enormous amount of knowledge has seeped in since then. There’s more interest in America now, and there are classes coming out that will help you get a strong foundation of understanding of what tea is and what the various types are.”

“There is certainly a lot to learn about tea.”

And a teaologist, while maybe sorta kinda a fake name, can certainly help show the way.