Growing tea: essential conditions

During a tour of the Institute of Himalayan Bioresource Technology, Dr Rakesh Kumar reminded those I’d brought with me on the trip of the essential conditions required to grow tea: acidic soil (pH 4.5 to 5.5), temperatures between 15°C and 32°C, and abundant rainfall (around 1,500 mm per year). Of course, altitude, sunlight and gradient also influence the way the plants behave.

I’ve chosen this photo to illustrate gradient. It is without doubt in the Himalayan foothills that I encounter the steepest mountainsides. With copious rainfall and well-drained soil, it’s a tea plant’s dream location!


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

Under the Himalayan clouds


During a heatwave you must remember to stay hydrated. You need to drink frequently. You can also cool your face, with a wet cloth or a facial mist. As for me, I like the original version of mist – it’s called the Himalayas. It is cool there, especially at this time of year, when clouds full of monsoon rain gather above your head.


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

An amusing combination


The beliefs of some do not prohibit the humour of others. While I’m often attracted to religious places because of their emotional force or architectural beauty, I generally don’t have too much time for religion. While I was out walking somewhere in the Himalayas, I spotted these Buddhist prayer flags (on the top line) alongside some laundry hung out to dry (bottom line). This juxtaposition caught my eye and I instantly took out my camera in order to record this amusing combination. A local woman watched me from her doorstep, bemused, as I took photos of her underwear.

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

Darjeeling: the dream and the reality

This is a rather idyllic view of Darjeeling: a charming town with plenty of green space, spread out among the tea plantations in the Himalayan foothills.
The reality is more complex: the city has more than 100,000 inhabitants and spreads out much further than can be seen here. The roads are crumbling, all the city’s water has to be trucked in, and the traffic increases every year, making it very congested.

Posted in Country : India, Places I like in Darjeeling by François-Xavier Delmas | Tags : , , ,

A beautiful landscape doesn’t always make a good tea

A beautiful landscape doesn’t always make a good tea. When I come from Bagdogra (India) and start the three-hour ascent into the Himalayan foothills, I love nothing more than stopping and admiring the view once I get through the stifling heat of Siliguri. The land is no longer completely flat, the city has disappeared from sight, the traffic and the horns have calmed down. Goats doze on the roadside. You start seeing far away above the trees and it helps bearing the heat: you suffocate much less when looking at a clear view. With the gentle breeze and the smell of the earth, I always stop walking between the tea plants.

Actually, I must say that they’re not good tea plants. People say that they are Darjeelings, but it’s not quite true: they are just outside the Darjeeling “appellation”, but close enough for dishonest merchants to use them to bulk out the real Darjeelings and cheat the buyers.  This explains how there is four times as much Darjeeling tea sold worldwide than is actually produced.

Never mind, it’s the landscape that is worth admiring here. It is truly magnificent. I’m really attracted to this Terai plain, which used to be a jungle until the British cut down all the trees. People say you sometimes see wild elephants charging around and leopards.  I feel good here, so I walk and walk before continuing on my way to Darjeeling. Why beeing in a hurry when it’s so beautiful around?

Posted in Country : India 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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