Here we are in the Year of the Dragon

So here we are in the Year of the Dragon. Symbol of the Emperor, symbol of power, the Dragon is a highly desirable zodiac sign.

May this year unfold under favourable auspices, may it bring you prosperity beyond your dreams, the red signs say. It’s a tradition in China to hang long banners on the doors at the time of the new year, with messages of good wishes.

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

A planter’s estate typical of the British era

When the British were in charge of tea production they created vast estates and put in place systems to manufacture large quantities of tea. On each estate they built a bungalow, which might be small or large, for the planter. Today, in India and Sri Lanka, for example, you still see these buildings that are typical of the British era. I am often invited by planters to stay in their bungalows, like this one in Amgoorie (India), which is generally considered to be one of the finest.

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

Sipping boiling hot tea, a true winter pleasure

When you’re feeling cold, what could be better than going home, putting the kettle on and warming your fingers a few minutes later around a cup of steaming tea?

Under a beautiful winter sun, here I am sipping boiling hot tea overlooking the High Atlas mountains.

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

Vermiculture: a very common practice

You don’t need panda excrement to launch into organic tea production. In my last post I mentioned these loveable mammals in the light of the highly-publicised start-up by a Chinese entrepreneur. But vermiculture, on the other hand, has been around for a long time and is used on many tea plantations.  So what is it? Quite simply, it involves raising earthworms by feeding them on a mixture of cow dung and chopped-up leaves (see photo). A few weeks later, the earthworm castings are collected and spread onto the soil. The use of this rich compost eliminates the need for fertilisers. In addition, the compost contains worm eggs, which then hatch into worms themselves. Once they have grown into adult worms, they will help aerate the soil and aid irrigation. As well as burrowing tunnels, the worms feed on leaves that have fallen to the ground, and speed up their decomposition.

So earthworms are a great asset, providing ongoing benefits for the soil.

Posted in Organic tea by François-Xavier Delmas | Tags : , , ,

A tea grown in panda poo

There are many organic tea plantations around the world, like here in southern India. So far, there are relatively few in China, but a publicity-seeking Chinese entrepreneur has just announced with great fanfare in the press that he has acquired no less than 11 tonnes of panda poo to make the most expensive tea in the world. Wow! Over the weekend, the news was relayed around the world by all the major press agencies. When the story reached Philippe Bouvard, master of French humour, he called me to ask if I’d appear on his show “Les Grosses Têtes” (“Big Heads”).

As for me, I consider it perfectly normal to use animal manure to grow tea. I have visited many plantations that use vermiculture, or worm composting, a technique I want to cover in my next post.

Organic farming methods don’t allow the use of chemical fertilisers, and I have no issues with that at all. However, if this Chinese entrepreneur really wants to sell the most expensive tea in the world, he’ll need a bit more than these 11 tonnes of manure. He’ll need to acquire the expertise. It won’t make the headlines, and it will take a lot longer.

Posted in Country : China, Organic tea 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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