Withering fills the leaves with a wonderful fragrance

The withering of tea leaves can take several tens of hours, during which time the leaves will lose some of their water content. In order to avoid the risk of oxidisation, hot or cold air is sometimes blown beneath the leaves. At this point, the air is filled with a wonderful fragrance, very typical and very floral, which can be detected for hundreds of metres around. I never grow tired of this smell. I find it captivating.

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

Elegant spider living among organic tea plants

With many plantations going organic, it is high time I introduced you to some of the nice animals that live among the tea plants, where the lack of pesticides makes for a quieter life. In terms of insects, for example, there are two categories: those that are detrimental to tea production, and those whose presence is beneficial. Among the harmful insects is the inchworm, which I talked about recently. There are many others. In terms of beneficial insects, the ladybird is one of the best known. Its rather comical appearance masks a ferocious predator that will destroy colonies of aphids with a remarkable efficiency.

As for spiders, some are harmful, while others can be useful. I don’t know which category this one falls into, but it is large and unusually elegant. I don’t even know its name, so if there are any spider lovers among you, perhaps you could introduce it to us.

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

I have just tasted the very first teas of the season

In Darjeeling, October marks the start of the autumn tea harvest. Once the Diwali and Dussehra festivals are over, the workers start plucking the leaves, of which there are now too many after the holidays. A week later, they carry out a more delicate plucking which will serve to produce a high quality tea.

Here, with Abishek Dev, grower at the Teesta Valley Tea Estate, I am tasting the very first teas of the season.

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

There are two ways of growing a new tea plant

There are two ways of growing a new tea plant. You can plant a seed, or a cutting.

Here, Rajiv Gupta, grower at the Tumsong Tea Estate, explains how the roots of a tea plant grown from seed (on the left) reach deep into the ground, while the roots of a tea plant grown from a cutting (on the right) spread out and don’t go very deep. This has important consequences in terms of how the plant withstands bad weather, dryness and soil erosion.

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Le Palais des Thés team in Darjeeling

Once a year, I ask some of the senior staff at Le Palais des Thés who have not yet been on a trip with me to pack their bags and accompany me into the tea mountains. There is nothing like a visit to the plantations to compare your theoretical knowledge with reality, and bring a fresh impetus to your learning.

So, in October 2011, here we are: Sarah Daubron (head of customer services), myself, Christine Delétrée (network director) and Paul Roudez (manager of the Rue de l’Annonciation), posing for a group photo by the Tumsong factory in Darjeeling (India).

Posted in Country : India, Palais des Thés 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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