Darjeeling: a tea that should not be bought blindly

blog-05-02-2016

Around the world, much more Darjeeling tea is sold than is actually produced in Darjeeling. There are also considerable differences between gardens in terms of quality, and considerable differences in quality within the same garden. These differences are due to major variations in weather (a garden might produce excellent teas in April, for example, which is impossible in July during the monsoon) and because the same plantation will have tea plants growing at widely varying altitudes. In Tukvar, for example, 1,000 metres in altitude separates the top of the highest plot and the lowest point on the plantation.

So we must be careful when we buy Darjeeling teas, and we should never rely on the name alone, however prestigious it may be. We should also bear in mind that plantations situated on the plains, of mediocre quality, sit alongside those within the appellation, and human nature being what it is, there is a great temptation to sell Terai teas under the Darjeeling name.

Connoisseurs of first-flush Darjeelings must wait a few more weeks to try the new spring harvest. In this region of the world, tea plants are dormant between November and February, as the soil is too cold for Camellia sinensis.


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

The three tasting senses

Tea tasting

Three senses come into play when we drink tea and analyse the liquor: taste, which focuses on flavours (sweet, salty, acidic, bitter, umami, etc.), smell – made more effective through retro-nasal olfaction (a technique that consists of exhaling through the nose, bringing more olfactory molecules into the retro-nasal cavity) – and touch, which of course tells us whether the tea is hot or cold, astringent or silky, and other sensations. If we want to describe a tea, it is essential to understand about flavours, olfactory notes and touch. It helps us when we taste together, so we can share our impressions.

 


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

Tea tasting is all about the senses

 Tea tasting

When I give a lesson at The Tea School, or when I arrange a tasting for colleagues, one of the first things I do is to ask them a very simple question: once you have put food in your mouth, how many senses are in contact with this food, and which ones? The answers always vary. Now, to taste properly – and this goes for any food – it is essential to understand which senses come into play, and then to build up the appropriate vocabulary.


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

Pu Erh, a fascinating group of teas

blog-15-01-2016

At this time of year, I particularly enjoy drinking Pu Erh after a meal. Firstly, it is said in China that this tea “dissolves fats” and helps prevent cholesterol. Secondly, I like its aroma of wet earth, rotting wood and damp straw; its smell of cowsheds, mushrooms and oak moss; its aroma of cellars, dry wood, liquorice, manes, wax and flint; its vegetal, fruity smell.

From one Pu Erh to another, the variety of olfactory notes is wide, another reason to try this fascinating group of teas, the only ones that undergo real fermentation. It is available loose-leaf or in a “cake”. It can be “raw” or “cooked”, depending on whether fermentation is done in the traditional manner or accelerated. It can also improve with age, like good wines.


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

A bridge to the New Year

blog-08-01-2016

To celebrate the New Year I’ve chosen this photo taken in Japan, in the Shizuoka region. I love rope bridges, those pathways over a void, which are sometimes crossed with a touch of apprehension that quickly disappears. I wish you a happy and peaceful year. I hope your path is joyous. I hope you live in harmony, harmony with yourself, harmony with others. I hope we can live rewarding lives among those who we may have been able to help find fulfilment.


Posted in Country : Japan 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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