The sinensis and assamica varieties

If you enjoy tea, you will probably know that there are two main varieties of Camellia sinensis used to make tea: Camellia sinensis var. sinensis, and Camellia sinensis var. assamica. Rather than getting bogged down in the Latin, here is a more practical explanation. The large-leaf teas come from the assamica strain, while the small-leaf teas – which have incomparable aromas and a hardiness that allows them to adapt to harsher climates – belong to the sinensis strain. It is self-explanatory that a producer looking for quantity over quality is likely to favour one over the other.

I would like to thank Laurence, manager of the Palais des Thés store on Rue du Commerce in Paris, for this photo she took while we were visiting a research centre in Northern India.

(photo: Laurence Jouanno)


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

There’s a spring tea for everyone

Flowery tree

For those who wish to try spring – or first-flush – teas, here are some tips. Darjeelings harvested in March and April develop sustained floral notes accompanied by a touch of astringency and bitterness. For brioche and floral aromas combined, try Nepalese first-flush teas, which are harvested from the start of April. Those who enjoy chestnut, mineral and vegetal notes would do well with new-season Chinese teas (the rarest and most sought-after and therefore the most expensive are those known as pre-Qingming teas, harvested before Chinese Tomb-Sweeping Day which takes place at the beginning of April). Lastly, for fans of iodine, cut grass and steamed vegetable notes, Japanese Ichibanchas are a pure delight. They are harvested between the end of April and the middle of May. Of course I haven’t covered them all here, and there are other countries to discover, but if we are talking about springtime and nature reawakening, and if you want teas that evoke gardens and rising sap, these are the ones I think of first.


Posted in Spring by François-Xavier Delmas | Tags : , ,

Malawi: a wonderful discovery

blog-08-05-2015

Asia is not the only producer of good teas – Africa too, if you know where to look. I have just returned from Malawi. The countryside is exceptionally beautiful. Breath-taking. And the people of that country are so gentle, attentive and spontaneous, it’s quite incredible.


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

A good year starts with a good bed

blog-15-01-2015

Travelling to far-away places introduces me to unknown occupations. It’s said we should air our beds from time to time, and that’s probably because we don’t have a mattress shaker. The man knocks at your door and you give him your bedding. He begins by unpicking the stitching; then, using a stick, he mixes up all the stuffing – raw cotton in this case – before placing it back in the mattress, which he stitches up again. All ready for a good night’s sleep.


Posted in Country : Nepal 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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