Price hike at the Hong Kong tea fair

The Hong Kong tea fair is taking place at the moment, and the context is particularly difficult for western buyers. For the past few years, erratic weather conditions have affected harvests, and the quantities produced have fallen sharply. In addition, production costs, whether in India or China, have risen considerably, as has the cost of sea freight. What is more, the very low value of the euro is pushing up the price of tea, which is generally traded in dollars. On top of all this, in China and India, the world’s two biggest tea producers, the middle classes, which did not exist in the recent past, now represent several hundreds of millions of people, many of whom enjoy drinking good quality teas. They aspired for so long, and now they have the means at their disposal. So in these two countries the domestic markets have expanded massively, and there are plenty of Indian and Chinese tea connoisseurs who are now buying the best teas that used to be reserved for export only. We can understand them, even if it is costly for us.

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

Swapping the kyusu for the tea boat

As I am leaving Japan for China, I am also swapping the “kyusu” for the tea boat. You pour the tea into the first cup, which is quite narrow. You then empty this cup into the wider one. The smelling cup retains the fragrances of the liquor for a long time and allows you to explore the tea’s bouquet. You drink from the second cup, the tasting cup.

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

Visiting Japan’s first tea gardens

It is worth visiting Japan’s first tea gardens. These ones were planted on the island of Kyushu, apparently around the 17th century. They are very small gardens, situated on the mountainsides. To visit them you must travel through dense forests, mainly made up of magnificent cryptomeria trees. You walk along a narrow, well-worn path and then, coming across a clearing, you discover a tea garden.

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

A stele worth a detour on the island of Kyushu

This stele may look unprepossessing, but for fans of Japanese teas it is worth a detour. The stone bears an inscription stating that it was in this place that the monk Eisai, who came from Long Jing in China, planted tea seeds he had brought with him. As for the rest, you can see the outlines of some Camellia Sinensis trees on the right. At the moment I’m on the island of Kyushu, near the city of Saga, where the story of Japanese tea began.

I should also mention that there are a few other similar stelae on the same mountain, bearing roughly the same inscription.

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

Tokoname, a well-known centre of Japanese ceramics

The Japanese city of Tokoname, situated not far from Nagoya, is one of the best known centres of ceramics. The city is home to well-known potters who work in their own studio, which is sometimes part of their house. Many make the famous “kyusus”, the small teapots that can be slightly flat in shape, with a handle perpendicular to the spout. They are used to make the best Gyokuros, or equally delicious Senchas.

Posted in Country : Japan 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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