Rodrick J. Markus, rare-tea hunter at Rare Tea Cellar Inc.
How he got the job: After receiving degrees in psychology and hypnotherapy, he found that tea had similar aspects to wine and if one could translate those aspects to people through tea, it would be epically powerful. Twelve years ago, chefs started requesting single ingredients in his tea blends and it blew up into a current portfolio of 1,400 teas and over 4,000 additional ingredients.
What he does: Markus sources rare tea and ingredients direct from tea estates, farms, and foragers in 160 countries that push the daily limits of all things botanical, beverage, blending, and spirits. Privy to uber-confidential workings of some of the most esteemed kitchens on Earth, he also works with top culinary minds across the globe on everything from tea and truffles down to rare, never-seen-before nectars. His portfolio of teas ranges from $20/per pound to over $100,000/per pound, with many of his teas and blends being next to impossible to procure even in the country of origin. His obscure findings are gobbled up in kitchens everywhere from Grant Achatz’s Michelin-starred Alinea to Billy Corgan’s Highland Park teahouse Madame ZuZu’s.