With the “father” of Pathivara

Among the plantations worthy of attention recently is Pathivara, in Nepal. Here, I’m with the plantation’s father, the man who started it. In just a few years, he’s succeeded in producing delicious teas, so far with very modest resources. What’s more, the teas are certified organic. A new building is going up; I laid the first stone on my previous visit. It will house more sophisticated machinery, although the team is already producing some very fine teas. Since the start of June, I’ve bought three batches: Pathivara Classic, Pathivara Black and Pathivara Dragon Yeti – these mountains are full of poetry. Each tea is very different, with very varied aromatic profiles. Here, poetry and gastronomy come together.


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

Our friends the earthworms

Tea plantations that use organic methods avoid all conventional pesticides and fungicides. They limit the spread of undesirable elements through the use of natural predators or repellents. And to enrich the soil, to make up for the nutrients that the tea plants take up, especially in intensive farming, they need to add a significant amount of organic matter. Organic compost can be bought in, or even better, produced on the plantation. One way of doing this is using vermiculture, a fairly common practice in India. Millions of earthworms are fed cattle manure mixed with chopped up banana leaves, for example. The worms produce excrement, and it is this excrement that is deposited around the base of each tea plant.


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

Mr Kumada, a farmer attached to his land

Mr kumada in Kagoshima

I’d like to introduce you to Mr Kumada. He lives with eight cats and grows tea on seven hectares in the extreme south of Japan, high above the city of Kagoshima, far from anywhere, even the smallest village. Mr Kumada took over from his father, who was also a farmer. But he only grows tea, unlike his father who also grew tobacco, and raised cows, pigs and silkworms. When I asked him what he’d like me to talk about on my blog, Mr Kumada immediately replied that he was proud of his farming methods, and of the organic certification he has obtained. He wants to keep the environment in the best possible condition; he is responsible for it, he says.

Mr Kumada produces green teas, of course, but also a black tea, which I’ve just chosen. It’s the first time I’ve tasted such a good black tea from Japan, an interesting tasting experience. Mr Kumada’s very likeable personality does play a part in my choice: I taste all teas blind, but it increases the pleasure I take in being able to promote his excellent tea.

 


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

Altitude, a useful ally

Altitude, a useful ally

In Kenya, some plantations lie at almost 2,000 metres. At this altitude, insects and fungi that can attack tea plants are particularly rare, due to the low temperatures. So in these conditions, it’s easier to grow teas organically. However, to be certified “organic”, as well as not using prohibited pesticides and fungicides, the soil must be enriched naturally – with compost, for example.


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

I don’t trust plantations that prohibit taking photos

At some tea plantations, they don’t like you taking photos. Sometimes, like here at Kora Kundah (southern India), there are even signs prohibiting it. I always wonder what this means. What do they have to fear from me taking photos? What is it they don’t want me to see? Most of the time it is simply a statement of ownership, a way of prohibiting trespassing. In reality, at the plantation of Kora Kundah, I know I’m free to go where I like and to photograph whatever I want. It is actually a great tea plantation, producing teas of high quality with organic and fair trade labels.

I don’t trust tea estates that limit their access or prohibit taking photos. At first I always ask why. If the reasons are not convincing, I refuse to trade and politely turn back. One mustn’t generalize, but I notice that this happens in Sri Lanka more than anywhere else.


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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