The delicate art of withering white tea leaves

In the past, the withering of tea leaves took place in the open air, but nowadays it increasingly happens in a heated, well ventilated room. This system offers greater control over the ambient conditions. Here, in Fujian (China), the temperature and humidity levels are carefully regulated, and the room benefits from a sophisticated ventilation system. Which means the leaves of this Bai Mu Dan can gradually lose their water content.


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

Zhaji : a hamlet that has kept its soul

Every time I go to China, I wonder what else will have changed in the cities and countryside that I know. The rapidity of change in the country takes your breath away, as you gaze upon a street you no longer recognise, or a forest of skyscrapers that in less than a year has grown faster than a copse of bamboo.

But off the beaten track, there are still hamlets that have kept their soul. Here, in Zhaji (Anhui province), nothing has changed for a very long time, and every evening after his meal, Mr Li walks beside the river before returning home for a last cup of the famous tea he produces.


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In search of the best quality Taiping Hou Kui

Hou Chun, the Village of the Monkeys, is worth the trip. Having taken a boat to get to this mountainous region that is inaccessible by land, I have to climb this path which looks innocent enough to start with, but later runs along the edges of precipices. If you suffer from vertigo you must raise your eyes and gaze upon these magnificent mountains covered in tea plants and a jungle that mainly comprises bamboos.

In Hou Chun, just once a year, for around 25 days, they produce the best quality Taiping Hou Kui.


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Last stage in the processing of Taiping Hou Kui

After being fired, then rolled individually by hand, Taiping Hou Kui leaves are placed between two meshes. Moments later, the upper mesh is covered with a cloth and pressed with a roller, to flatten the leaves.

This painstaking task does not take place for any other tea. In this photo I took during my last trip to China, you can see how proud this producer is, preparing for the last stage in the processing of this fine green tea, the drying. The leaves you see here are held in place between the two meshes, and have just been flattened.


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Taiping Hou Kui : a very expensive tea from China

Taiping Hou Kui is harvested for just 25 days a year, generally between 20 April and 15 May. For the rest of the year the tea plant is allowed to grow without having its leaves plucked. This concentrates the harvest on the best season.

Mrs Zha has a pretty plot of land on the edge of lake Taiping. She is very busy during this plucking period. Taiping Hou Kui is one of the most expensive teas in China, and its price can reach thousands of yuan per kilo.


Posted in Country : China 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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