Tasting in Dharamsala

A tasting session at the Manjhee Valley Tea Estate in the company of its manager, Chettaranjan Rai. The Manjhee Valley Tea Estate is in Dharamsala and produces some of the best teas in the region.
Before this, Chettaranjan worked for more than 10 years on tea plantations in Darjeeling, and is extremely experienced. Here, he is watching me closely, waiting to see what I think of his production.

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

Trip to Himachal Pradesh (India)

I’m on my way to Dharamsala, Palampur and Baijnath, three towns in Himachal Pradesh (India). I haven’t visited this tea-producing region, near Kashmir, for 12 years.
The plantations in this region date back to the British colonial era; they are the same age as those of Darjeeling. In 1905, a terrible earthquake saw the settlers flee, but the plantations still exist.
The soil is as good as it is in Darjeeling, and the climate suits the tea plant, so it is time to see if the quality has improved in those parts, and whether we may at last one day taste fine teas from the region.

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

Darjeeling: the dream and the reality

This is a rather idyllic view of Darjeeling: a charming town with plenty of green space, spread out among the tea plantations in the Himalayan foothills.
The reality is more complex: the city has more than 100,000 inhabitants and spreads out much further than can be seen here. The roads are crumbling, all the city’s water has to be trucked in, and the traffic increases every year, making it very congested.

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

Departure for India

This morning I took off for India.
I’m not yet travelling on a prayer mat or on one of these flags fluttering in the wind, but that doesn’t mean I am not unmoved by the intense mystique of this country, its poetry.
These materials you see here symbolise the sky, the earth, water, fire and air, depending on their colour. On each of these flags are printed prayers that are carried off by the wind.

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

Trouble in Assam

The state of Assam (India), the country’s main tea-producing region, is going through a difficult period.
Security has been an issue here for years. I don’t want to go into the detail of the reasons behind the violence. I don’t know enough about it. I just want calm restored, like the lovely calm expression on this Assam tea plucker’s face.
The red and white fabric she wears wrapped around her head is typical of women in the region.

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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