I’ve just bought the first tea of the year

I’ve just received the first samples of the Darjeeling spring teas, or “first flush”. The buds on the plants are very small, and the shoots are still a little slow due to the generally cool winter. The temperature is still too low to allow an abundant crop. Nonetheless, certain planters have produced some wonderful teas.

I’ve just bought the first tea of the year – a very small lot of just 15kg – from the Teesta Valley Tea Estate. This is a lovely plucking, with leaves just lightly rolled, giving a fresh infusion that is both vegetal and fruity, and a supple liquor with pronounced vegetal and almond notes. A pure delight.

To accompany your tea tasting, here is a view of the Teesta Valley Estate itself. It offers the same roundness and sweetness as well as the famous vegetal note… It’s as if the landscape itself was reflected in our cups.

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

To find good teas, one must be patient

I don’t need to teach you tea drinkers to be patient. You know how to take time choosing your tea, to prepare it in the right way, steeping the leaves in water that is not too hard or too hot, allowing the leaves to infuse for the right length of time.

In a few days we will be able to try the first samples of the spring teas. However, it’s not always the first that are the best, and sometimes – but not always – it’s better to wait for the next day’s harvest.

Here is a view of Darjeeling for you to contemplate while you wait to try these leaves being harvested at the moment, right here, on these misty hillsides.

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

The first harvest of the year is about to start

Elegant creature climbing over a tea bud.

When I ask planters in Darjeeling when they will begin the first pluckings of the year, they always gives roughly the same reply: around the time of the Holi Festival. Holi takes place in India every year at the beginning of spring. It’s the festival of colours. To celebrate, everyone arms themselves with plenty of coloured pigments and throws them in the faces of people around them. Throughout the day, they cover their laughing friends – and anyone else they come across – in a riot of colours.

With its coat of bright pink and orange, this elegant creature climbing over a tea bud looks like it has been taking part in Holi. The tea harvest is surely about to start.

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

Preparing tea according to the Gong Fu method

In Taiwan and in some regions of China, tea is prepared according to the Gong Fu method. This requires a very small teapot, smelling cups, tasting cups and a tea boat, a hollow vessel into which you pour the water used to rinse the tea and the cups.

The Gong Fu method consists of infusing the same tea leaves repeatedly for just a few seconds at a time. Each infusion, known as “water”, releases new aromas, until there are no more.

This method is particularly appropriate for the preparation of certain Wu Long or Pu Er teas. On Sunday I tasted a 2008 Pu Er Xiao using this method: it was a real treat.

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

Tea plants require pruning every five or ten years

If you want your tea plant to produce plenty of leaves, you need to take good care of it. Every five or ten years, for example, it will require pruning to a greater or lesser extent, to keep the plant in healthy condition. If it requires “hard” pruning, the main stems of the bush are cut back in the autumn to around 10 cm off the ground. It’s quite a sight to behold on a large scale: everything is grey and appears burnt, as if fire has ravaged the mountainside.  It looks quite depressing. But a few months later, the plants are bursting with life again as their beautiful pale green shoots herald the arrival of spring.

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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