Category : Country : India

Unfired clay cups of Kolkata


In Kolkata, where the heat is stupefying for a good part of the year, tea is drunk boiling hot. It is consumed in the street, by a stall, where it is often served in an unfired clay cup which is then thrown to the ground. The clay breaks on the pavement, and when the rain comes it turns to mud.

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

An assessment of the 2015 first-flush Darjeelings


When you harvest the terminal bud of the tea plant several times, the stem becomes stressed and stops producing a new bud. This phenomenon of dormancy, known as “banjhi” in Darjeeling, marks the end of the spring harvest (first flush).

If I had to give my assessment of this season in Darjeeling, I’d say we received batches of very varying quality, and few of exceptional quality. But I’ll conclude on a good note, with the choice of a Puttabong Clonal Queen DJ48 and a Margaret’s Hope Tippy Clonal DJ30. The first represents what Puttabong does best; the second is quite simply breathtaking.

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

Tea is also about people and feelings


Behind each « grand cru », each tea, there is work, there are people. My work, as I see it, is not limited to tracking down the best teas in the world, it also involves getting to know the people who produce it. Drinking tea with them. Listening to them talk about their product. So when I’m in a Palais des Thés store and I look at that impressive wall of canisters, it’s not the names of the teas on the labels I see, but faces, like that of Vikas Gajmer, manager of Castleton (Darjeeling).

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Darjeeling spring harvests


It’s not only the tea plantations that are busy at the moment. Yesterday I received no less than 120 different tea samples to taste. As ever, you need to be quick. If I want to make an offer on one of these batches I must have tasted them all in one or two days at the most. After that, it will be too late.

Of course, I don’t drink all the teas, I spit them out after turning the liquor around in my mouth while I analyse it.

Posted in Country : India, Places I like in Darjeeling, Professional tasting by François-Xavier Delmas | Tags : ,

News of the first-flush Darjeelings


The weather can change very quickly in the Himalayan region. The sun might be shining, then in the blink of an eye you could be completely shrouded in a damp mist. This instability, which is very pronounced in Darjeeling, explains why the first teas of the year are sometimes harvested at the end of February, and sometimes in the middle of March.

I’ve just started tasting the first small batches from the new harvest, and for now they are nothing special. The earliest batches are rarely the best; they come from low-altitude plots.

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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