Dmitriy Filimonov is Head of the Tea Department at Goodwine company (Kyiv, Ukraine), winner of Tea Masters Cup International in Enshi, China (first in Tea Preparation, third in Tea Tasting). We were eager to hear Dmitriy’s story for two reasons. First, he is engaged in tea in a non-tea company. Second, he has very interesting and instructive professional tea experience.
How many years are you in tea business?
2 years ago I started to work in tea industry as Head of the Tea Department at Goodwine. Before that I was a fanatic tea lover for almost 10 years.
Do you have any formal tea education?
Initially all my knowledge was obtained from different tea articles and forums. Then I started to travel to tea regions, visiting tea estates, speaking with different people of tea industry, reading books. So, I can say that my tea education was obtained piece by piece and it’s still an ongoing process which I hope will never end.
It’s very difficult to find any other product which can be so different, which can give this large spectrum of aroma, tastes and forms. It’s a never ending story.
Was there any turning point in your life when you decided to start a tea career?
One late night, I was checking my Instagram after some a long day at work. And I found that Goodwine was looking for someone to head their tea department, and I thought — this should be me! I already had a vision of what I am going to do and I had no doubts. So I quit my job in IT and started a completely new kind of business.
You are working at a wine company, what are you doing there?
Goodwine started as a wine importer, but now we are mainly involved in organic, healthy products and delicacies from different countries. My goal here is to bring good tea from all over the world to Ukrainian people, talk about tea and help people discover and enjoy tea.
What are your functions, duties, responsibilities?
I have a very wide range of duties. I search for suppliers, select products, control their quality, do tea marketing, search for new sales channels, organize tea tasting events and sometimes even pack tea for our customers.
What skills and knowledges are required for your job?
I think you need to be passionate in what you do, you need to be a little bit of a nerd, a little bit of a revolutionary, and of course a little bit of an entrepreneur.
With the multi-facet profile of your company, what do you drink besides tea? Do you have any favourite alcoholic beverages?
It’s strange, but when I have started to work in Goodwine, I almost stopped drinking wine. It was hard for me to pair tea with dry wine. But instead I opened for myself a whole new world of sweet and fortified wines, which were perfect with different teas. I like Italian sweet Passito wine, French Sauternes and dry Sherry from Spain — the last one I find extremely gastronomic. And of course whisky, its perfect for the Ukrainian autumn. I like oily and waxy textures of whisky, which is mostly about Highland. Clynelish is my favorite distillery.
Have there been any changes in your work since 2017 when you won Tea Masters Cup International competition in Enshi?
I guess the most important benefit of the victory is that it gave more weight and importance to things I do. I went almost to all TV channels in Ukraine, got a lot of interviews, all this allowed me to bring my tea ideas to a very large auditory. And it also made my Mom happy.
What were you doing this past year?
I did a lot of public tea tastings, gave lots of interviews to different medias, have visited different tea regions (Vietnam, Kangra Valley, Georgia) and brought beautiful Vietnam specialty tea to Ukraine. I was invited to participate in Tea Masters Cup as an international judge in Hanoi (Vietnam) and Riga (Latvia) and had a wonderful time there with my friends.
Would you be willing to share with us your tea aspirations, plans for the future?
I want to bring more different specialty teas to Ukraine at a fair price; and there are also some new tea projects coming, I hope soon you will hear about it.
Getting back to your winning performance in Enshi, could you please, describe your novel method of tea brewing?
This is the a method that I am really proud of. It allows you to control the extraction profile for each tea. Sometimes you want the tea to be more intense and strong, sometimes you want the tea to be more light and aromatic, but what if you want the tea to be strong and light at the same time? I think that’s what this method is all about.
Basically you put the same tea in 3 different glass bulbs and brew each tea consecutively with the same water. Each time you pour the water to the next bulb it cools down by 8-10 degrees. So at the end you have the same tea brewed with 3 different temperatures.
Has your idea gained widespread adoption?
There are a few tea stores that used it in their tastings.
What tea would you recommend your system for?
The method was initially created for Darjeeling first flush teas, but it works good with light oolongs and even with some tender teas like Sencha.
Photo credits: Dmitriy Filimonov, Artiom Vidzemsky, Andrew Panchenko, TMC Ukraine.