Some Pu Er teas ferment under cover

This is not a particularly attractive photo, but it will interest fans of Pu Er. It is quite a rare image, in that until recently it wasn’t easy to get inside Pu Er factories, and it was even more difficult to take pictures of them. The manufacturing of Pu Er was supposed to be a secret, or at least it was one of those things that are not revealed to outsiders. Why is this? I don’t know, although I suspect it is due to the fact that there is little visual interest in a tea gradually going mouldy.

Pu Er is the name for fermented tea. As a reminder, black teas are oxidised, and dark teas (Pu Ers) are fermented. While we are on the subject, the difference between oxidisation and fermentation is that the former is a process that requires exposure to air, whereas the latter takes place in an environment deprived of oxygen. Now you understand better why these leaves have been deliberately damped down and covered: to allow the tea to ferment for around 45 days. A thermometer, which you can see in the foreground, is stuck through the canvas to check the temperature, which can rapidly reach 50 to 60 degrees centigrade.

This is the fast method. Another time I will tell you about the other method used to make Pu Er, the slow method…

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

Le Palais des Thés on a trip to Darjeeling

As promised, here’s a picture of the team who accompanied me to Darjeeling last month. From left to right: Yann (Rue du Cherche-Midi store, Paris), Stéphanie (Grenoble store), myself, Virginie (Brussels store), Thomas (warehouse), Carine (Ecole du Thé), Maud (Rue Vieille-du-Temple store, Paris), Fabienne (Lille store) and Nathalie (human resources).

We spent a week in Darjeeling, where this great team were able to discover the region I love, meet our suppliers, and put every question imaginable to the tea plantation managers. And meet the people who toil to produce such rare teas. We had some wonderful encounters, and the trip further deepened my understanding of this field, which I have always found so rewarding.

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

Yunnan also produces green teas

Yunnan’s black teas are well known (Yunnan Tips, Yunnan d’Or, Grand Yunnan Imperial), as are its dark teas (Pu Er). But did you know that this Chinese province also produces green teas?

They may not be as prestigious as the green teas from Anhui, Fujian, Zhejiang or Jiangsu, but they are honest, sometimes a little astringent.

The tea plants you see here belong to the Meng Non Shan Tea Factory owned by Mr He Qi Chuan. This is a high-altitude plantation. One of the teas it produces is Jade Needles. I was curious to taste this tea, and did so in the company of the owner, who was very hospitable. I didn’t buy anything but it was a pleasure to spend time with him and see his beautiful fields of tea.

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

The little Darjeeling train requires a large crew

I warned you: the little Darjeeling train steams into my blog whenever it feels like it. Here it is at home. You will see that no fewer than four people seem to be required to run it today, and I wonder if there might be a fifth in the cab. Actually I can never be sure how large the crew is, because each time I see it, the number of people working around the locomotive varies.

One thing I am certain of, however, is where I took this photo: in Kurseong, just after coming out of the “Kurseong Tourist Lodge” where I always stop to eat a plate or two of momos before continuing on my way to Darjeeling.

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

Tea houses are flourishing in China

There were many tea houses in China until Mao shut them down. No dens of vice, they represented entertainment and debate. People went to tea houses to enjoy a cup of tea and join in a discussion, or for a poetry reading, or simply to sit and listen to the chirping of the caged crickets.

Today, tea houses are back in fashion. They are flourishing all over China, and it is interesting to see the very young clientele that regularly frequents them. These customers clearly enjoy a certain standard of living, because tea is not always cheap in the tea houses, especially those located in areas popular with tourists, like this one in the centre of Kunming, by the delightful Green Lake.

Posted in Country : China 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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