Holding the soil in place

Farming methods change over time. Tea bushes sometimes used to be planted following the slope of the ground, resulting in vertical lines like those visible on the left of this photo. Today, young bushes are planted in horizontal rows, to reduce soil erosion. In heavy rain, the water runs off more slowly and the tea bushes hold the soil in place.

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

Rwanda: magnificent landscapes, unusual plantations

Rwanda field

This year, I’ve been incredibly lucky to visit some beautiful tea plantations, like the ones I went to in Kenya and Rwanda. I’ve seen a lot of tea fields in my life, yet I still discover breathtaking landscapes that resemble nowhere else. For example here, in Rwanda, tea grows not on hillsides, as is often the case, but at the bottom of the valley. The valley in question may lie at an altitude of 2,000 metres, but even so, it’s flat. And it’s still hot enough here for dense vegetation to surround the tea plants. In this “Land of a Thousand Hills” you’ll find incredible scenery, but also some remarkable and little-known teas. If you want to taste the tea that grows here, and feel connected to this beautiful place, it is called “Rwanda Silver Mist“, a powerful tea with fairly fruity, spicy, honey notes. It is a delicious discovery, a door that opens onto a very beautiful corner of our planet.

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

Tasting rooms have windows to let in the sunlight

When tasting tea, it is good to have a source of natural light in which to judge the leaves and the infusion, as well as the liquor. It means you can assess the tea not just on its taste and aroma, but also on its appearance.

This is why, on most plantations, the tasting room has windows right down one side, to let in the sunlight. The cups of tea are placed along the windows, and while the tea is infusing, I can spread the dry leaves on a card in order to get a good look at them and judge the quality of the plucking. Or, while waiting for the timer to tell me when the infusion is ready, I can take my camera, as I did here in Darjeeling, and find the best angle to immortalise this beautiful morning light.

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

In Assam, there is a hierarchy in tea harvesting

There is quite a hierarchy among the people in charge of harvesting tea in Assam. This is true on the large plantations, anyway; there are also independent plots owned by small producers.

On the large plantations, the manager supervises the assistant managers, who organise the babus, whose role is to oversee the work of the sardars, who themselves are responsible for supervising the team of workers.

In this photo taken on the Dufflating plantation you can admire two sardars, who don’t look particularly approachable on first glance. But perhaps they are just reflecting, in their serious expressions, the position of authority they hold.

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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