The different faces of China

People talk a lot about how China is modernising, and it’s true that the country has developed at an incredible rate over the past 30 years. Nonetheless, nothing delights me more than to travel around China’s countryside and small towns. Taking a detour down a cobbled backstreet, I came across some villagers. They sit on their doorstep, a bowl of noodles in one hand and a pair of chopsticks in the other, and chat away for hours. This is the more gently-paced side of China.

Posted in Country : China by François-Xavier Delmas

Visiting fine tea plantations in China

Among the best-known green teas in China are names such as Huang Hua Yun Jian and Yongxi Huo Qing. A couple of weeks ago I decided I wanted to visit the villages that produce these two rare, delicate teas. I have a weak spot for the first one in particular.

It is difficult to imagine the number of hours it took me to get there, over mountains and passes, before finishing the journey on foot along a path of stone and mud. It just proves that the finest teas are worth it.

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

Infatuation with black tea in China

For centuries, the Chinese drank mainly green tea, leaving black tea to foreigners. However, in the past year or two they have become infatuated with black tea. They call it Hong cha, due to the colour of the infused leaf, which is red; the best known here is called Jin Jun Mei. Of course, prices have rocketed, which happens every time our Chinese friends start a new trend.

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

Spring teas

Teas plucked in the spring are considered to be the best in many production regions. China is no exception, when it comes to green teas at least. In this country, teas from prestigious places (Long Jing, Bi Luo Chun, Huang Shan Mao Feng and many others) that are plucked before the Qingming festival at the beginning of April are in such high demand that they become unaffordable.

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

Selection of 2013 first flush Darjeelings

That’s it! I’ve just finished choosing the first flush Darjeelings. I’ve tasted up to 200 samples a day for just over a month, and have finally narrowed it down to the best. This year, some plantations have achieved a better quality than in previous years. This is notably the case with Hilton, Rohini and Teesta Valley. Other reliable gardens like Puttabong, Margaret’s Hope and Singbulli have surpassed themselves.

I have also thought of those who are not yet familiar with first flush Darjeelings, and have selected a Gielle DJ117, which is more approachable for the palate.

Overall, it is fair to say that the quality of the 2013 harvest is significantly higher than in previous years. It has been a long time since this region last experienced a spring unaffected by either excessive cold or severe drought.

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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