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So What Tea Goes With a Happy Meal, Mr. Man???

By Chuck Sudo in Food on Mar 27, 2006 5:20PM

2006_03_tea house.jpgChicagoist has been preparing for the introductory sommelier course and exam in the fall. In addition to being daunting, we've found our studies to be a little, um ... let's be generous and say "haughty" 'cause we don't know who may be reading, okay?

So we took a break from taking notes on "other wines of Mediterranean basin" - that really is part of the course syllabus - to read Janet Rausa Fuller's article in today's Sun-Times. NoMI, that bastion of haute cuisine located in the Mag Mile's Park Hyatt, now has a full-time "tea sommelier." Bou Chu, a long time manager at NoMI, by all accounts is the perfect man for the job, having both extensive knowledge of both tea and the NoMI menu.

It's a proactive step for a facet of the beverage market that has seen some explosive growth recently. Fuller's Sun-Times piece cites numbers from the Tea Association of the USA that shows over $6 billon in tea sales last year, and a 7 percent growth in sales from 2002 to 2004. Much of that growth is attributed to the health benefits of drinking tea, which has been shown in tests to do everything from lower cholesterol; be a great source of antioxidants; boost immunity; and quite possibly put the tiger in your tank. (Wink wink nudge nudge. Say no more.)

Chu and NoMI are heralding the promotion of its new tea sommelier with a series of prix fixe tea dinners (five courses, each paired with a different tea and history of the tea by Chu, for $110) beginning next month.

Maybe we're studying the wrong subject.