Moving towards mechanical harvesting

Plucking tea leaves by hand is labour-intensive, but manual harvesting is a mark of quality. Some research centres, like here in northern India, are working to optimise mechanisation. The bushes are pruned in a different way, and they are working to identify which type of mechanical cutting will result in the most abundant crops. I don’t have to tell you that I fear this future mechanisation, although uniquely in the case of Japan, it has already been the practice for a long time, and doesn’t affect the quality of the tea due to the great care taken by the farmers in that country.

(Photo : Laurence Jouanno)


Posted in Producing tea by François-Xavier Delmas | Tags : , ,

Tension in Darjeeling

For the past three weeks, tensions have been running high in Darjeeling. Businesses, roads and plantations have shut down, tourists have been asked to leave. The reason for the general strike is that the people of Nepali origin, who make up the majority of the population, are being forced to learn Bengali at school – a language from a region they hate. Darjeeling is part of West Bengal, which is resented by the independence movement, who want to create a new state within the Indian Union: Gorkhaland. This issue has been boiling over for the past 30 years, and demonstrations are frequent. With a three-week strike taking place during the summer harvest season, the plantations will struggle to cope this year. This is on top of the 30% decline in volumes harvested due to the dry spring this year.


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

It also rains elsewhere in summer

blog-29-08-2014

If you are finding the temperatures a bit cool this month, take note that that Western Europe is not the only place where it’s raining. In Northern India and Nepal, July and August are rainy months. It can rain for days on end, but people carry on working unperturbed. Or they take a break for a natter with friends.


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

Knowing how to appreciate bitterness

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Bitterness is the only intelligent flavour, Olivier Roellinger told me as we tasted a selection of teas together, when I warned him that some darjeelings have a touch of bitterness.

It is a flavour that, unlike sweetness, needs winning over, taming. It can be off-putting, but when we know how to appreciate bitterness, it offers such richness, such delight!

And Olivier Roellinger talked to me about the famous Italian gastronomy, a fine example of a bitter cuisine.


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

The tea plant that didn’t stop growing

big tea plant in poobong india

Due to the harvesting of its leaves, a tea plant does not get bigger; instead its trunk thickens. So a tea field looks more like a bonsai forest. But left unchecked, Camellia Sinensis and Camellia Assamica can grow to a height of several metres. Here is Rudra Sharma, the planter at Poobong in India, in front of one of his wild tea plants.


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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