Darjeeling hit by a hailstorm a few days ago

The day before yesterday Darjeeling was hit by a hailstorm, which was not good for the tea plants. What with the late start to the season due to the lack of rain, and the violent weather attacking the tea leaves, the planters don’t know which saint to turn to.

They’ve had enough of these insults from the skies. And they don’t want to see any more tea plants battered in the space of a day.


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

My favourite tea plant: “Ambari Vegetative 2”

Now that the Darjeeling First Flush season is well underway, today I’d like to introduce you to my favourite tea plant in this region. Its name is AV2, short for “Ambari Vegetative 2”.  Despite its slightly spindly appearance, this cultivar produces the best teas.

I’ve just bought a single lot, Puttabong DJ7 “Clonal Queen”. Its producer reserves this prestigious name for lots plucked exclusively from AV2 plants. So this is not a blend. It has remarkable delicate aromatic notes that are both vegetal and floral.


Posted in Tea plant by François-Xavier Delmas | Tags : , , ,

Chinese couples love to marry in Suzhou

The city of Suzhou is full of character. Many Chinese tourists come here to find some old-world charm. In the historic part of the city, canals run alongside the narrow streets, and many Chinese couples come here to get married. In fact you cannot walk more than a few paces before coming across a pair of young newlyweds posing under the watchful eye of the professional photographers, who are eager to capture their models in the right pose. This pretty bride exudes happiness as she smiles for the cameras.


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

I taste about 50 teas a day

This March I’ve tasted about 50 samples of tea a day. The first flush Darjeelings launch the season, followed swiftly by the Nepalese teas. A little later it’s the turn of the new-season China green teas. Then the Japanese Ichibancha. The teas are tasted blind, of course. The ritual is always the same: having smelt the infusion, you suck in the liquor and swish it around your mouth. You analyse the texture, the flavours, the aroma groups. You take your time. You taste and you taste again. You have to concentrate… Except for when a photographer bursts into the tasting room and captures the moment.


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

The meaning of the word “clonal” on a label

In the same way that wine can be made using different grape varieties, tea comes from different plants, each with its own characteristics. In this photo you can see the main cultivars used in the Darjeeling region (India). When a particular lot of tea is made solely from these varieties, Indians call it “clonal”. The word “clonal” on a label does not mean the tea comes from a cloned plant, but simply that the leaves were harvested from very specific cultivars. Some of these cultivars have been developed by an agronomic research institute and are known for their excellent quality and flavour.


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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