Tea harvesting by the Adivasis in India

In the Dooars region of India, tea is often harvested by the people known as the Adivasis. Often despised by other Indians because they are right at the bottom of the social ladder, they benefit from positive discrimination, along with the lower castes. They don’t get much attention, which is another reason to talk about them here.

The Adivasis are one of India’s biggest tribal populations. They descend from the aborigines and live in the north-east of the country.

I took this photo at Meenglas, near Mal Bazaar, a few kilometres from the border with Bhutan. The Dooars region doesn’t produce very good quality tea, but that’s not important here. It was the smiling faces of these workers that I wanted to tell you about, not the rather coarse leaves filling their bags.

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

Splendid view from Kuwapani tea garden

The plantations in the valley of Hile, in Nepal, were established recently. The oldest garden among Kuwapani, Guranse and Jun Chiyabari was created not much more than ten years ago. This might in part explain the quality of their tea, because the bushes they chose to plant on these mountain slopes are recent cultivars, famous for their aromatic properties. In addition, each of these plantations has developed innovative techniques for rolling the leaves, which is unusual in Nepal and India.

These three plantations are also special in that they are situated right next to each other. In this photo I took of Kuwapani, you can admire its splendid views, of course, but you can also see the red roof of the Guranse factory, close by.

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

Shivaite priest near the Darjeeling temple

I left for Kolkata three days ago, and today I am in Jorhat, in Assam, a region still considered dangerous until very recently. The situation here has greatly improved and, at the moment, it finally seems possible to visit this state in the north east of India, near Myanmar.

In India, whether you are a follower of Vishnou or Shiva, it is common to ask for the blessing of a priest before you undertake such a journey. This is the face of a young Shivaite priest who practices every day near the Darjeeling temple. Just don’t ask him to smile: he makes up for his tender age with an unwavering impassivity.

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

In Nepal, cheese dries like laundry on a line

I was in Nepal recently and accepted an invitation I had received on numerous occasions to enter a house, often a farm. And I have had many opportunities to admire these strange forms hanging above my head like laundry on a line. It is difficult to know which is more incongruous, the electric bulb or these sticks.

But what is this stuff the colour of fresh butter?

In fact, it is cheese, drying out until it becomes as hard as rock.  When it comes to cutting it, no less than a pair of pincers is required. Chewing it is no easier: even just a tiny piece left to soften for ten or twenty minutes in the mouth is still inedible. It requires enormous patience to actually chew it and extract its minimal flavours.

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

Undisturbed tea trees in the setting sun

Last month a strike affected all of Nepal’s tea plantations, and for more than ten days the tea trees were left to grow undisturbed. This explains why, in this photo taken at Kuwapani, the delicate yellow colour of the new shoots reflects the light of the setting sun in such abundance. Over on the right of the fence, the grass is so closely shorn because the region’s many stags and roe deer have not joined in the movement, and show no signs of stopping work.

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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