To all my readers, I wish a happy New Year’s Eve

When I left Darjeeling in October, it didn’t seem to sadden these school children in the slightest, and they had fun clowning around while I took a photo of them. This image of happy children is a good reflection of my feelings as we finish the year on a high note. I hope you enjoy the celebrations.

I have no more regrets about leaving 2011 behind me than these kids had at seeing me depart for the valley. I welcome 2012 with open arms, as they will do when I return to see them next time.

It only remains for me to choose the tea on which to end the year. After the meal I’m serving on New Year’s Eve, I think I’ll make my guests a mint tea, known for its digestive properties and as a symbol of hospitality.

See you next year!

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

A little touch of warmth to finish the year off

As we walk the final stretch of the path together in 2011, I want to show you this photo of two tea pluckers in the Assam region who are returning home to their village after work. I think the sight of these women protecting themselves from the sun’s rays beneath their pretty parasols brings a touch of warmth to our grey winter. In this season, Paris lacks bright colours. Apart from the inevitable Father Christmas here and there outside the department stores, you don’t see much red. So it’s funny to think that somewhere else on this earth, people are taking care to protect themselves from the sun, while here, the slightest ray of sun makes us close our eyes and purr like cats.

Red is also the colour of some chillies, so I’ll take this opportunity to tell those who’ve never tasted Assam teas that they develop subtle notes of tobacco, honey and also… spices.


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

A Christmas basket filled with tea leaves

I am well aware that at the moment, everyone is looking forward to the imminent arrival of a certain somebody dressed in red and bearing a sack filled with wonderful things. I truly understand! This plucker dressed all in red and wearing her apron, is taking great care as she plucks the most delicate leaves of the tea plant before she places them in her basket.

If her slender ankles appear down your chimney, make sure you give her a warm welcome and put the kettle on. It’s time to honour the contents of that famous basket: it’s time for a cup of tea!

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

Which is the best tea to drink during festivities?

The end-of-year festivities are frequently accompanied by overeating: at a time when many of us welcome friends and relatives into our homes, we enjoy preparing delicious meals and treats for our guests. It is not only the quality that is often high, but also the quantity. As for me, I like to finish a good meal with a cup or bowl of tea, to help me digest. I don’t know if the effect is purely psychological but it feels real, which is good enough for me. In China, Pu Er is said to be the best tea to drink during times of feasting. This tea is special in that it is covered and fermented for at least 45 days. During this time, the temperature is checked, hence this thermometer stuck into a pile of tea leaves covered with a cloth. It reads 53°C.

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

Tasting tea is like tasting wine

Tasting tea is a bit like tasting wine. You take some of the liquid in your mouth and swirl it around gently. Then comes what we call “retro olfaction”: you exhale air through your nose, directing the aromas towards your olfactory bulb. With your head slightly lowered, your cheeks sucked in, you hold the liquid around your tongue and inhale through your mouth several times. By exhaling this air out through your nose, you increase your olfactory capacity to its maximum.

We use this method to enhance our assessment of a tea. It’s necessary when you want to describe a tea’s aromatic profile, for example.

Here, with one of his assistants, is my friend Anil Jha in action. His Turzums and other Sungmas have acquired an excellent reputation.

Posted in Professional tasting 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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