The first harvest is the best

Since the start of May, I’ve been tasting and choosing the best teas of the season from Japan. They’re called Ichibanchas because they’re the first to be harvested in the year. Japanese teas come from the regions of Shizuoka and Uji, and in the south of the archipelago. In the north of the country, the tea plant grown everywhere is Yabukita, whereas in the south, with its warmer climate, less Yabukita is grown. For example, here, near Kagoshima, the Yutaka Midori cultivar dominates, and represents nearly 60% of production.

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

The frenzied pace of the spring harvests

The frenzied pace of the spring harvests

My selection of first-flush Darjeelings is over, the Nepalese season is in full flow, and then it’s the turn of the new-season China teas, before the first Japanese Ichibancha are ready. Between 1 March and 10 May every year, I can taste more than 100 teas every day, not counting the ones I infuse several times, when I’m deciding between different batches. The peak of this pleasant activity, which I always look forward to, takes place around the end of April. At this time of year, so many samples pile up every morning in the packages sent by express mail from Nepal, India, China and Japan, that I sometimes don’t know which way to turn.

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

I taste about 50 teas a day

This March I’ve tasted about 50 samples of tea a day. The first flush Darjeelings launch the season, followed swiftly by the Nepalese teas. A little later it’s the turn of the new-season China green teas. Then the Japanese Ichibancha. The teas are tasted blind, of course. The ritual is always the same: having smelt the infusion, you suck in the liquor and swish it around your mouth. You analyse the texture, the flavours, the aroma groups. You take your time. You taste and you taste again. You have to concentrate… Except for when a photographer bursts into the tasting room and captures the moment.

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

Japan : drink the best teas with complete peace of mind

I have chosen this photo of a lovely landscape, taken at Wasuka near Nara, to tell you that it would be a shame to miss out on the Japanese spring teas, the famous ichibancha, this year. Le Palais des Thés has sent all batches of its Japanese tea to be analysed by a laboratory, which will check whether their radioactivity levels comply with European standards. Only once we have received the results can we start distributing the teas to our various stores. In the stores, you will be able to ask to see the laboratory test results for the tea you want.

So you will be able to drink the best shinchas with complete peace of mind. Japanese farmers have suffered enormously this year due to the tsunami, and we must not abandon them, or their deliciously delicate teas!

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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