I taste about 50 teas a day

This March I’ve tasted about 50 samples of tea a day. The first flush Darjeelings launch the season, followed swiftly by the Nepalese teas. A little later it’s the turn of the new-season China green teas. Then the Japanese Ichibancha. The teas are tasted blind, of course. The ritual is always the same: having smelt the infusion, you suck in the liquor and swish it around your mouth. You analyse the texture, the flavours, the aroma groups. You take your time. You taste and you taste again. You have to concentrate… Except for when a photographer bursts into the tasting room and captures the moment.

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

The meaning of the word “clonal” on a label

In the same way that wine can be made using different grape varieties, tea comes from different plants, each with its own characteristics. In this photo you can see the main cultivars used in the Darjeeling region (India). When a particular lot of tea is made solely from these varieties, Indians call it “clonal”. The word “clonal” on a label does not mean the tea comes from a cloned plant, but simply that the leaves were harvested from very specific cultivars. Some of these cultivars have been developed by an agronomic research institute and are known for their excellent quality and flavour.

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The first estates to harvest are at low altitudes

Longview Tea Estate

In Darjeeling, at the beginning of every spring, the first estates to harvest are those situated at the lowest altitudes. They enjoy more clement temperatures. This is what the region looks like at the exact place where the immense plains of India take over from the foothills of the Himalayas. Here, you can see the Longview Tea Estate, and you can make out the ochre-coloured stone bed of the Balasun river.

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

New samples of tea have just been delivered

For the past two days samples of tea have been delivered in large numbers at my tasting room. As soon as they arrive I taste the contents of the little bags on which are marked the name of the garden, the lot number, the grade and the quantity of tea produced.

This is it! In Darjeeling, the season is now properly underway.

Posted in Country : India, Professional tasting by François-Xavier Delmas

Weather delays tea plucking in Darjeeling

Because of the cold and then the lack of rain, the tea plants are growing very slowly in Darjeeling. As of mid-March, only a few lots have been produced, and it will be a while before there’s a good selection available.

I have bought three lots so far though: a very small amount from Teesta Valley, which I’ve already talked about; the first plucking from Mission Hill, which develops a lovely length in the mouth, and lastly, the Hillton DJ1 with its aromas of cut grass and raw vegetables, which has an incredible intensity.

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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