Tasting tea is like tasting wine

Tasting tea is a bit like tasting wine. You take some of the liquid in your mouth and swirl it around gently. Then comes what we call “retro olfaction”: you exhale air through your nose, directing the aromas towards your olfactory bulb. With your head slightly lowered, your cheeks sucked in, you hold the liquid around your tongue and inhale through your mouth several times. By exhaling this air out through your nose, you increase your olfactory capacity to its maximum.

We use this method to enhance our assessment of a tea. It’s necessary when you want to describe a tea’s aromatic profile, for example.

Here, with one of his assistants, is my friend Anil Jha in action. His Turzums and other Sungmas have acquired an excellent reputation.

Posted in Professional tasting by François-Xavier Delmas | Tags : , ,

An air of Christmas in the fields of tea

To illustrate this Christmas period, I searched among my photos to find something seasonal: a combination of green and red, for example, to remind us of the holly branches with their red berries.

I show you green throughout the year, with all those fields of tea, but red is much harder to come by.

Take a good look at this little winding path near Teesta Bazar (India) and you will spot three tea pluckers beneath their red parasol. They are like you, they have just done their shopping and are returning home, having a good chat on the way.

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

Tea tasting: a special moment

Tea tasting is a special moment for me. While we wait for the teas to infuse, we talk, or we look at the dry leaves. Then, when the tea is ready, we exchange cups, without a sound. We inhale the aromas of the leaves, look at the liquor, and taste it. Then we compare it with the cup beside it. It is a moment of pleasure and of concentration. Hand movements are precise and slow. To me, this serenity is important in order to appreciate all the pleasures offered by a cup of tea.

Posted in Professional tasting by François-Xavier Delmas | Tags : , , ,

Pu Er also requires wrapping with care

I know that your main objective at the moment is to wrap your purchases so they are ready to go under the Christmas tree in a few days’ time. Well, in China there’s a tea called Pu Er which requires wrapping with just as much care. Pu er can be bought loose, but it is mainly found in the form of a compressed cake. Having been left to dry on racks, each cake is wrapped in a sheet of printed rice paper, as you can see in this photo. The protected cakes are then wrapped in groups of seven in a dried banana leaf. The tea is then ready to embark on its journey and arrive with you after the festivities, which is just at the right time: in China, Pu Er is said to lower cholesterol. Rightly or wrongly, it is sometimes known as the “fat-eating” tea.

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

Third flush Darjeeling teas are coming

A few days ago I bought a wonderful third flush Singbulli, and this morning I have just confirmed the purchase of a Rohini, also harvested in November. The first lot only weighs 70 kilos, the second lot just a little more, and they will arrive in France in December.

Those of you who love fine Indian teas must remember that Darjeelings produced in March, June and the autumn have very little in common. The reason is that this mountain you see here, Kanchenjunga (8,586 m), creates a great contrast with the weather conditions of the plains on the subcontinent. Darjeeling is one of the tea-producing regions with the most varied climate.

In warmer seasons, the southerly wind brings some of the stifling heat of the plains to these mountains. On the other hand, as winter approaches, the peaks make their presence felt, the sky becomes clear and the temperature drops. And the growth of the tea plants gets slower and slower, which is another reason for the variations in their flavours.

Posted in Country : India 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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