In Myanmar (Burma), the production of tea remains highly artisanal. People make both green and black tea. I haven’t found anything special in my tastings so far, but I’m continuing my research.
Here, in the Hsipaw region, the main tea producing area, villagers take the plucked tea leaves home and process them in front of their houses. This is what the local rolling machines look like. They are worked by hand.
In some countries, people don’t just drink tea, they eat it.
Like here, in Burma, where they ferment tea leaves in bamboo tubes before serving them drizzled with sesame oil. This dish is served as part of a meal, but it can also be offered at the end of some family and religious ceremonies.
My quest to unearth the world’s finest teas often finds me travelling familiar roads, whether in China, India, Japan, Nepal or Korea. However, sometimes I need to take a different route.
Exploring new areas is part of my work as a tea researcher; here I am en route to the north of Shan State and the mountains of the Golden Triangle. I’ve heard it said that the main tea producing region of Myanmar is in Namshan.
I’m ready for my adventures of discovery!
This tea seller I met at Heho market keeps very busy. The whole time I was sitting beside her, customers were constantly coming and going, and she couldn’t even spare a couple of minutes to gulp down the bowl of noodles placed to one side.
She mainly sells a black tea which her customers then roast in a pan before drinking it.
This is typical of Myanmar tea: you roast your own tea at home to give it what they call the “taste of fire”. Sometimes toasted sesame seeds are added.
I hear that there is much talk of marriage at the moment in France, and the opportunity has arisen for me to tell you what I think of it.
If there is one marriage I cannot recommend, it is tea with a slice of lemon. The effect of the acidity alters the tannins and the aromas, and the result is not particularly harmonious.
On the other hand, if we look at practices around the world, tea is open to many marriages: with mint leaves in Morocco, cardamom pods in Afghanistan, rancid yak butter in Tibet, jasmine flowers in China, a drop of milk in Britain, and with a little of all the spices in India.
Vive la différence – and vive l’harmonie!
South of the beautiful Lake Innlay, so often shrouded in mist, is one of the two mountains on which the Burmese grow tea. Around Pingluang, more specifically, about 30 kilometres south of the famous lake. This is in Shan State, and it is this beautiful region
I have chosen as the destination for my first journey of the year. Myanmar is changing and is opening up to the rest of the world, and it is time to find out what kind of teas they make in this country.
In India, the gesture of putting your hands together is a very polite way of saying hello. As we start 2013, I also bring my hands together to welcome in another year, and hope that yours will be full of life and happiness.