The lion’s dance in the Chinese New Year festivities

Lion's dance in the streets of Hong Kong.

I’ve witnessed a curious spectacle in the streets of Hong Kong on many occasions in recent days. A large, peculiar-looking animal performs all sorts of contortions and dances, surrounded by percussionists playing the cymbals and other instruments. Then it rises up on its hind legs and stands very tall, to the roar of the drums which gains in intensity to increase the air of excitement. It then gulps down a bunch of vegetables hanging high in the air, before spitting out the leaves a few moments later.

The lion’s dance is part of the Chinese New Year festivities. In Hong Kong, no shop or hotel misses out on a visit from this strange creature. Inside the beast are two Gong-Fu experts, and this exercise demands great skill.

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

How to keep warm with tea

With the cold you are battling in France at the moment, you need to keep warm. Always have to hand a kettle filled with fresh water, for example, a singing kettle whose song warms the soul and lifts the spirits.

A song calling you for tea.

Everywhere in India you see tea vendors in the streets and on the roadsides. With a kettle purring over what are sometimes simple wood fires, they are always busy. On the roads of the Himalayas, they might set up stall on the corner of a rock. You squat down next to the vendor and take your time sipping the scalding blend of tea, milk and spices. You simply take time to do yourself some good.

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

Yabo cha fang: a tea house in Hong Kong

When I arrive in Hong Kong I go straight to one of the tea houses; they’re such havens of peace. People go to them to buy old pu er; traditionally, the vendor sits opposite you and, after looking at you for a few moments, puts the water on to boil. They break off a piece of the tea cake, and you talk together about this and that, and about tea of course. You compare the different waters, because the same tea is infused several times over. From one tea to the next, one cake to the next, the minutes – sometimes the hours – pass by, interspersed with the sound of our little gulps: here, tea is drunk from tiny cups, like those used in the Gong Fu Cha.

A student of Yip Wai Man, Eliza Liu has one of these tea houses in the Mongkok district, and teaches her many devoted customers all about tea in an informal manner. Yabo Cha Fang is a friendly place with a special atmosphere, a mysterious charm, like Eliza’s smile which I have captured here, as she crosses her hands in the style of the Mona Lisa.

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

An olfactory journey in the streets of Hong Kong

Walking through the streets of Hong Kong is an olfactory journey. In this city where street food is sold on every corner, the many stalls – there’s one every ten metres or so – give off copious, diverse and unusual smells: duck skin crackling over the heat, sizzling lumps of fat, garlicky vegetables frying in the wok, caramelised pork. There are fried noodles, fritters and dim sum of all kinds.

With all the greasy smoke, the stalls overflowing with delicious food, it’s a real wake-up for the senses. Whatever the time of day or night, it makes you want to dig into a big bowl of steaming noodles.

Nowhere as much as here, in Hong Kong, in this city that never stops and that dazzles with a thousand neon lights, have I ever had such a strong sense that man was put on this earth to eat.

Luckily, there are also tea houses where you can take a seat and follow the owner’s advice, and taste with him a few leaves of Pu Er, delicately broken off an old tea cake. Then you can take time to savour your tea, and think about this island and its hyperactive inhabitants who consume with such frenzy.

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

The lifespan of a tea plant: between 30 and 50 years

Everything comes to an end. When a tea plant no longer produces many leaves, it is replaced. The lifespan of a tea plant is quite variable, generally between 30 and 50 years, although China claims to have some that are a thousand years old.

The trunk and roots of the tea plant burn well, and heat the oven in which the tea leaves are dried after oxidisation, for example.

Posted in Tea plant 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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