Plucking tea with 35°C and 100% humidity

When you know what the climate is like here in Assam, you realise this woman must be brave to work outside. Throughout my stay in the Jorhat region, the temperature varied between 35° and 38°C, while the humidity came close to 100%.

Whatever the temperature, she rarely removes her wide-brimmed hat: it protects her from the powerful rays of the sun and also from the frequent and torrential downpours that can come at a moment’s notice.

Posted in Country : India by François-Xavier Delmas | Tags : , , , ,

Preparing tea requires precision

Preparing tea requires a certain amount of precision when it comes to professional tasting. If you are preparing to taste and compare a number of teas, it is essential that the infusion takes place in exactly the same conditions for them all.

So everything is done with attention: the water must be at the correct temperature, the recipients must be clean and of the same colour. The exact same quantity of leaves is placed into each pot, to the nearest tenth of a gram. Then the infusion can begin – timed, of course.

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Drains dug into the soil to protect tea plants

The tea plant enjoys humidity, but it hates having water sitting around its roots. How awkward! To keep its feet dry when the ground is flat, like here in Assam, drains are dug into the soil.

Switching locations from the plains to the peaks, I want to tell you about the mountain blocking my view right now. It marks the start of Nagaland, the sparsely populated region that borders Assam. The Nagas are a friendly people, but due to one of their ancient customs, thankfully now abandoned, they are sometimes known as “Head Cutters”.

Posted in Country : India, Tea plant by François-Xavier Delmas | Tags : , , ,

The inchworm is an enemy of the tea plant

Among the enemies of the tea plant, the inchworm features in prime position. With a ferocious appetite, it can munch its way through quite a few leaves in a short space of time. Getting rid of them isn’t easy, especially on organic plantations. Birds are the principle predators of this creature, whose name derives from its strange gait: it advances by taking calculated “steps”, measuring out each one with apparent expertise.

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“Delmas Bari” : a tea plantation named after me

One day, when I was in Darjeeling, I was surprised to find that a plot on the North Tukvar plantation had been named after me. It was a new plot, mainly planted with the AV2 cultivar which I am particularly fond of.

This gesture from G. Somani, superintendant of North Tukvar and Puttabong, touched me greatly, and from time to time I return to “Delmas Bari”. The tea plants have grown, they look magnificent at the moment. The place has a unique charm about it. A small stand provides shade where you can enjoy a cup of tea and take in the incredible beauty  and utter tranquillity of the surroundings. I feel quite at home there!

Posted in Country : India, Places I like in Darjeeling by François-Xavier Delmas | Tags : , , , , ,

The author

François-Xavier Delmas is a passionate globetrotter. He’s been touring the world’s tea plantations for more than 20 years in search of the finest teas. As the founder of Le Palais des Thés, he believes that travelling is all about discovering world cultures. From Darjeeling to Shizuoka, from Taiwan to the Golden Triangle, he invites you to follow his trips as well as share his experiences and emotions.

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