Globetrotter: Joyce Muendo of Tetley's

Joyce Muendo tastes up to 400 cups of tea a day as Tetley's senior tea taster, buyer and blender and counts Sri Lanka as her favourite destination.

by Elizabeth Anderson
Last Updated: 09 Oct 2013

How many business miles have you clocked up this year?
About 26,000 miles in the first half, including trips to the US, France and India and Sri Lanka, where much of our tea is imported from.

Where do you source tea?
From all over the world, because no country produces the same kind of blend.

In north India, the tea has lots of body; in Brazil it has more sparkle and tastes sweeter. Other countries produce higher quality blends - white tea, the most expensive, comes mainly from China.

What does your role involve?
My job is to make sure our tea is always consistent.

I do lots of tasting - sometimes as many as 400 cups a day. Tea is very seasonal so it tastes different depending on the climate of the country it's come from.

Favourite place to travel?
Sri Lanka. The landscape is very beautiful and the people are friendly - the level of hospitality never ceases to amaze me. You'll be taken out for lunch, dinner and everything in between.

Favourite airport?
Newark - I use it a lot when I go to our offices in New Jersey. It's not too busy and you're in and out very quickly. Atlanta airport is mad: very hectic, with a lot of distance to cover. It's the last thing you need after a week of meetings.

Most memorable experience?
The first time I visited a tea farm, in Kenya. A tea farm is like a green mattress which stretches out for miles so you just want to jump onto it. I still love visiting the farms.

My favourite moment is when the farmers bring that first cup of tea - it tastes so fresh, as it's come straight from the bush.

Video conferencing or eyeball to eyeball in the flesh?
It's essential we meet our suppliers face to face.

We visit the farmers, understand how they grow the tea, and talk about issues they face and how we can help them.

It's the only way to ensure we blend the same taste that the British public loves.

Jet lag remedy of choice?
I cope with jet lag by making sure I get some sleep on the flight, followed by a session in the gym after I land.

Drinking a cup of tea on touchdown also wakes me up. Even after 20 years of tasting up to 400 blends a day, I can't do without it.

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