Proud experts!

It’s no mean feat to obtain a Tea Sommelier diploma. First, the candidate must answer 24 open questions in just an hour. Then they must prepare, in front of three examiners, a tasting of six teas from among 22. The leaves placed in front of the applicant have no written indication of their type, colour or origin. Then they must perform a task chosen at random: prepare a matcha tea correctly, serve tea in a kyusu, or serve a pu erh using the gong fu method. That’s what this esteemed exam consists of, meaning that those who obtain the diploma are true experts! Here, I’m meeting some of them, with my assistant watching on. Bénédicte has infused a few premium teas, which we are discussing.


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Sharing my passion

In this blog, which is celebrating its seventh year, I love to talk about the work I’ve been doing for more than 30 years; my job is my passion. Part of the joy comes from sharing it in situ with my colleagues at Palais des Thés and showing them what I do every day. They accompany me on tours around the tea fields and I share with them the time I spend with farmers and planters, which is so important in my view, learning about every aspect of their work and their life. Here, from left to right, are Benoît (poor framing on my part has deprived him of his right ear), Audrey, Sylvie, Frédéric, Constance and Linda, who don’t look unhappy to be on the trip.


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Important moments in-store

It’s true that I spend a lot of time in the tea fields, but sometimes I visit the Palais des Thés stores and the teams. I tell them about my adventures, answer their questions, and we taste teas together. These are very important moments for me. The staff are always horrified when I tell them about the leeches that attach themselves to your skin during humid walks; about the whole hornets served fried, spiced and seasoned with ginger and garlic, near Xishuangbanna; about the local alcohol downed neat when you wake up, as is traditional among people living in the mountains of northern Vietnam. I also tell them about the nights I spend listening to the sounds of the jungle. My fear of tigers. I always remember one or two anecdotes, such as the monkey who stole a tourist’s bag and, while we looked on, dumbfounded, took out a passport and tore out every page, one by one. Here, I’m in Toulouse, with Océane, Marc, Léa and Florence, manager of the Toulouse and Blagnac stores, who spent a few days with me in India, on the tea plantations.


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New Palais des Thés store opens in Bordeaux

The day after the opening of the new Palais des Thés store in Bordeaux, I have chosen this photo with a nod to the region’s vineyards. I know the topography is different, but I must say that tea bushes and vines are very similar in terms of the lines they form within the landscape.


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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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