Tea Tasting at the Hotel Vier Jahreszeiten Kempinski, Munich – A GHA Local Experience

By Jonathan Spira on 9 September 2012
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Joël Belouet, Tea Sommelier at the Vier Jahreszeiten

The 150-year-old Hotel Vier Jahreszeiten Kempinski is a grand hotel dating back to the time of the Bavarian King Maximilian II, who wanted to build “the most beautiful hotel in the city,” not coincidentally located on the broad boulevard that would bear his name, the Maximilianstraße.

The Vier Jahreszeiten, one of my favorite hotels to visit, is part of the Global Hotel Alliance (GHA), a hotel loyalty program that Kempinski co-founded.  GHA offers its members the opportunity to enjoy what it calls a “local experience,” or an activity that can range from behind-the-scenes access to an event, a specific cultural experience, or an activity not generally available to the public.

The Vier Jahreszeiten offers several local experiences and the type of event GHA members have access to varies based on whether the member enjoys gold, platinum, or black status with the program.  The black local experiences include a shopping trip to the Viktualienmarkt, Munich’s open air marketplace, with Sven Büttner, the hotel’s executive chef, and a tea tasting, similar to a wine tasting, with Joël Belouet, the hotel’s tea sommelier (the hotel’s website refers to him as its “tea master in gold”).

Monsieur Belouet at the tea station

The tea degustation, which consisted of two flights of tea (borrowing from wine-tasting terminology), regular and green, was held in the hotel’s elegant lobby, which is dominated by a large, circular stained-glass ceiling depicting the four seasons (“vier Jahreszeiten” means “four seasons” in German).  It was a rainy Sunday afternoon, perfect for staying inside and enjoying tea and people-watching in the lobby.  (See the bottom of the second page of this article for a virtual tea tasting.)

Monsieur Belouet has been at the Vier Jahreszeiten for over 36 years and is also the head of lobby service.  He is a distinguished looking gentleman in black tie and, while I had met him before, I hadn’t known of his knowledge and love of tea and, during the course of the tasting, I found out that he has visited many far away places to see how tea is grown and prepared.

Click here to continue to Page 2The Tasting Begins plus a Virtual Online Tasting

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