Tea leaves spread out as far as the eye can see

In Assam, anything related to tea processing takes place on a massive scale, because of the incredible yield they get here: four times higher than in Darjeeling. The plantations themselves cover a much larger area than elsewhere in the country.

Take the withering, for example. Instead of troughs 10 to 15 metres wide, which I am used to seeing in other parts of India, here the leaves are spread out as far as the eye can see. I took this photo at night, and the dim light adds to the mystery of this essential stage in tea processing. During the withering, the leaf will lose much of its water content (up to 40% for Assams; up to 70% for Darjeelings).


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

Smelling the wet tea leaves : an essential step

When you taste tea, the first thing you do is look at the dry tea leaf, of course. Then you bring the liquor to your lips and analyse the flavours, aromas and texture. But assessing the qualities of a tea includes another important step: smelling the wet leaves that have just been infused. For this, we can follow the example of Peter Orchard, manager of Kuwapani Tea Estate, who you see here, plunging his nose into the leaves while they’re still warm. Peter is looking at me but he is elsewhere, concentrating intently on the smell of the infusion, a smell which says a great deal about the quality of the lot he has just tasted.


Posted in Country : Nepal, Professional tasting by François-Xavier Delmas | Tags : , ,

Camellia : a shrub with a tough foliage

In many countries, the men and women who pluck tea leaves wear a type of sleeve made from a light canvas, which covers part of the arm.

Camellia is quite a tough shrub, and at the end of the day, without this protection, which can be worn directly on bare skin or over the top of a garment, the pluckers’ arms would be covered in scratches.

I expect this young woman from Yunnan, who looks rather stylish beneath her straw hat, would agree.


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

Hot tea is more refreshing than cold tea

The summer is upon us in France, and with it comes the heat. Many people like iced tea at this time of year, simply because they want a refreshing drink. But it’s funny that in regions where it is very hot – like the Sahara, but there are many other examples – people tend to drink their tea hot. In fact, hot tea is considered more refreshing than cold tea. This is because the closer the liquid’s temperature is to body temperature, the less it will provoke a temperature change. And this temperature change is one of the reasons we sweat.

Our love of iced drinks comes from the other side of the Atlantic, and when a food-related fashion arrives from that region, we are not necessary wrong to question it. My suggestion for fans of iced tea is to shun the overly sweetened – in my opinion – commercial varieties and instead to make your own delicious teas using water at room temperature, and to drink them chilled.

Or, as I am here to tell you about the different customs relating to tea, you can also celebrate the arrival of the warm season by drinking a hot tea with mint leaves, like this one, served on the banks of the river Nile.


Posted in Iced tea, Recipes by François-Xavier Delmas | Tags : , , ,

Tea trees growing quite freely in Kuwapani

I am very aware of how lucky I am to be able to spend several months a year walking through tea fields. I never tire of it. Each tea plantation looks different. Some slope, others are flat, some are densely planted, others sparsely. Some are wooded, but the trees vary from one region to another.

What I like about this photo taken on Kuwapani Tea Estate (Nepal) is the contrast in these tea trees planted in rows that are quite orderly, yet which leave room for some interesting effects. The wavy lines follow the irregularities of the terrain, with a certain sense of freedom. They have adapted to their environment. We can see how the hand of man has marked out a neat line, and nature, rebellious, has ignored it.


Posted in Country : Nepal, Tea plant 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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