A tea organ to introduce people to aromas

We don’t get many opportunities to develop our sense of smell in today’s world. This sense is rather neglected, and while children learn about colours at school, the same cannot be said about different types of aroma.

Yet we all have the ability to memorise a great number of smells. But you do need a method of remembering them, and the easiest way is to give them a name. By naming a smell, as we have done with each of the colours we are familiar with, we can remember it easily. Then you simply move on to the next one.

This “tea organ”, which featured at the recent Maison & Objet fair, is a fun way of introducing people to aromas and helping them learn to recognise some of the key fragrance groups.

Posted in Palais des Thés by François-Xavier Delmas | Tags : , ,

Tea plant just been uprooted in Assam’s heat

Pulling up a tea plant requires remarkable strength, as its roots plunge deep into the ground. But although the man in this picture is sweating heavily, it is not because he has achieved this feat. In fact, the bush has just been uprooted by a mechanical digger, and the man is simply hacking off the stump with a machete. He is sweating so much because Assam’s heat and the high humidity levels of this region are at their peak.

What surprises me most here, around Jorhat, is the complete lack of wind. For months on end, not a leaf stirs in this area of India, enclosed between the high plateaux of Tibet to the north, and the mountains of Burma in the east.

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

Tea pluckers gathering to get their bags weighed

In the middle of the day, as soon as the plucking is finished, the workers gather to get their bags weighed.

Here, at Dufflating (Assam), everyone waits in turn and one by one hangs their bag of tea leaves on the mobile scales. The supervisor records the worker’s name and the weight of the bag, which will determine the pay for that day. You can see that the bags are made of netting, to prevent the leaves from oxidising. They must remain in perfect condition all the way to the factory, otherwise the tea will be spoiled.

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

Darjeeling is a hotspot in terms of seismic activity

There were many victims of Sunday’s earthquake in Sikkim, including in the city of Darjeeling, less than 100km from the epicentre. Naturally, my heart goes out to the victims of this catastrophe, and I feel very saddened for those affected. I have been in touch with our various tea producers in the region, and fortunately none came to any harm.

Although earthquakes are fairly rare in Darjeeling, the region is a hotspot in terms of seismic activity, being situated where the Indian plate meets the Asian plate. In reality though, the people of Darjeeling suffer more frequently from landslides than earthquakes. They happen every year, and there are many victims.

This photo I took in Darjeeling gives you an idea of how homes are built here, on sloping ground, and helps illustrate the population’s vulnerability to natural catastrophes.

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

Tea pluckers looking like queens

In Assam, as soon as harvesting is finished, the pluckers assemble, men on one side, women on the other, and they set off with their precious baskets to the place where they will be weighed. Some women hold their baskets under their arms, but most rest them on their heads. A rolled-up piece of cloth placed precisely on the crown of the head serves to support the basket. These splendidly colourful fabrics look like crowns, making their wearers look like queens, I think.

Posted in Country : India 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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