Alex, pioneer of “grand cru” teas from Malawi

blog-19-06-2015

The existence of very good teas in Malawi is down to Alex. He is the only one to produce them. All the plantations in this country produce tea industrially, and harvest it with shears, but this was not right for Alex. He loves tea. He was born in Malawi, grew up on his grandfather’s plantation, and tea has been his whole life. So he researches, he documents the methods of making dark teas, green teas, semi-oxidised teas, white teas. He seeks out particular tools needed to produce them, from China or Taiwan. He makes teas in his own way, in his own style, with his terroir, his cultivars.

From Alex, I have chosen his Satemwa Dark, his Zomba Green and his Small Holders Black tea – produced through his association formed with small producers, and currently the best black tea from Africa. I recommend it wholeheartedly.


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

Looking is the first step in tasting

blog-12-06-2015

The first step in tasting consists of looking at the leaves. You pour a small amount out onto a neutral surface, like a sheet of card, and you examine the quality of the plucking, the colour of the leaves, their size, evenness, etc. This already gives you a good idea of what you’re about to taste.


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

At the foot of Mount Mulanje

blog-05-06-2015

In Malawi, tea grows in the south. We are here at the southern end of the Great Rift Valley, at the foot of Mount Mulanje. They say the views are incredible from the top; I can well imagine it, and intend to make the journey one day. In the meantime, I think the view from the bottom isn’t bad either, both vegetal and mineral. This expanse of green relaxes the eyes. It’s quite an idyllic place to work.


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

From one earth to another

Plantation de thé au Malawi

If I talked to you about “terre battue” in French – literally “beaten earth”, the name given to the clay surface of tennis courts – you’d think I was talking about the French Open, taking place at the moment just outside Paris. Not at all. This brick-coloured ground actually makes me think of the tea fields, those of Malawi for example. The path is like a scar cutting through the fresh green expanse of the tea plants. It’s a million miles from the courts of Roland-Garros. And without the crowds. There, silence reigns.


Posted in Country: Malawi by François-Xavier Delmas

An encounter off the beaten track

blog-22-05-2015

This woman is 95. She lives on an isolated farm, with her husband. They live alone, on the mountainside, far from any other houses, with just a few chickens and a little land to cultivate. A tiny path leads to their house. It is so narrow you must place one foot in front of the other. I visited them last week, while walking in the mountains in eastern Nepal. I was with Andrew, the planter from Guranse who shares my love of long walks. She made us tea while we talked with her husband. She brought us the tea in a metal goblet and threw a handful of cereal into a small, separate bowl. We poured the milky tea, which was quite peppery, over the cereal, and ate. We drank the remaining tea. We talked for a long time with her and her husband, on their doorstep, beneath a beehive. They talked non-stop. She understood my mediocre Hindi but spoke only in Nepali. Andrew translated for me. When I managed to get a word in, I asked her questions. What was her secret for a long life? Eating healthy food; fresh, home-grown produce. And was not love also the secret of their longevity? She laughed and exchanged a tender, incredibly touching, look with her husband. They married when she was 11. He was 15. They love each other. They have been together more than 80 years. When it was time for us to leave, they took our hands, and they blessed us by placing their hands on our foreheads. And they asked us if, later, when they are no longer there, we could once, just once, think of them.


Posted in Country : Nepal 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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