I failed my Tea Sommelier exam and I learned from it.

I FAILED the Tea Sommelier exam last month. This is my 7th out of 8 courses. I did well for the last 6 courses. I always passed with more than 80%. This time, I didn't pass. I was extremely disappointed and sad. 

There are 4 components for the exam, and I did not pass the blind cupping taste test, which is the most important one.

That day, I couldn't taste anything properly. One Monday in April, on my day off, I scheduled my blind cupping taste test in the afternoon. I had a dentist appointment in the morning; a regular checkup and cleaning. No big deal. I didn't even think twice.

Since I take this course online, I asked my husband to be the exam assistant, a.k.a. tea buddy. He prepared 8 teas, carefully following the instructions without me looking at the leaves.

When I started to taste these 8 cups, I was sure of only one tea, China Black Lapsang Souchong. Because, as you may know, it has a very distinctive smoky aroma. Other than that, I couldn't taste the differences at all. I had to guess from the colour of the tea. I am not supposed to look at either the dry or wet tea leaves. As a tea sommelier, I have to be able to identify different tea types, countries and regions from the taste of the liquor alone. I followed the rules. Oh, I was really tempted to peek at the leaf!! BUT of course, I didn't. 

I submitted my answers reluctantly. 

Two days later, I got an email from my teacher. She said I didn't meet the requirement to pass. I knew it. Still, it hurts.

Fortunately, the school let me re-do the tasting part. My teacher sent me a package again.

I practiced different tasting cupping sessions by myself before the re-do test. 

I anxiously submitted my answers. I got a message right back in a couple of hours reporting that I passed this time with a final total mark of 80%. Phew.....

So, I learned a good lesson. There is no win or lose, it’s win or learn, right?
I don't know what exactly happened, but I now know I shouldn't do a tasting after a dentist appointment. Maybe I shouldn't even use mouthwash.  

I am now even more curious about our sense of taste. It is a very interesting topic. After I complete all of my courses and finish my certification, I may do some research about our taste buds.

Now I will move on to my next and last course, probably in the summer. After I pass this, I can take the Final Certification exam. Almost there. I will do my best, with or without the dentist…

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