Make tea not war

I got to know Xuan Dong Wu this summer. I met him in the Ming De factory he manages and where, that day, he was overseeing the withering of the tea leaves with the greatest attention. Xuan Dong Wu loves his job. He has not always been in the tea business. He started out in the army, and fought in the Sino-Vietnamese War in the early 1980s. He then returned to the village where he was born, and where tea provides the majority of work. He makes white teas, pu erhs, and black teas that are considered the best in Yunnan. He likes to introduce new ideas, and is responsible for several of our Mao Chas, the intermediate teas used to made Pu Erh. Xuan Dong Wu is a shy man, and didn’t say much when I asked him what he wanted me to write about him here. He simply told me about his life, and what he likes. He said he likes making tea with his heart and with his efforts, he said he wanted to do his best and make the best teas possible. And then he plunged his hands back into the withering leaves, and didn’t take his eyes off them. 


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

The smell of tea factories

The buildings in which tea is processed are full of smells. Wilting produces the most pronounced aromas, while it is taking place, giving off vegetal, floral bouquets. The smell is so powerful, it literally transports you.
However, if you visit a tea factory outside the production season, like here at the Palampur Co-operative (India), other aromas are more dominant. You find yourself shutting your eyes to better appreciate the powerful smell of straw and horse hair.


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

Mealtime in a Chinese tea factory

In Chinese tea factories, at mealtimes, everyone puts aside their work, arranges the tables and prepares for the festivities. Eating is one of the favourite pastimes of the Chinese. It is often a moment of conviviality and relaxation, a simple occasion shared by all. It ends with a tea, and sometimes a nap.


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

Tea on the shore of Black Sea

I’m writing from the Black Sea. I’m in Rize, on the Turkish coast, not far from the Georgian border. Here, the mountains falling into the sea are incredibly green and I wouldn’t surprise you if I told you that they are covered with tea.

Turkey discovered tea at the end of the Ottoman Empire precisely because of the loss of the Yemen region where famous coffee is produced. So they had to fall back on the camellia, grown in hilly and damp areas. That’s how the whole country began drinking tea, served very strongly and in nice tulip-shaped glasses here. Sometimes they resort to using samovars and diluting the tea, still very black, with very hot water.

Tea is king in Turkey. They drink it at anytime of the day or the night, sip it, put it back on the saucer, take it again straight away and chat while burning hands. But is it really good tea?

That’s exactly the aim of my trip: finding in these mountains someone who produces quality tea according to the rule book, only by plucking the best leaves and watching not to break them. From this point of view, I have to admit that my trip isn’t successful. I have met extremely nice people who’d do anything to show me their tea garden or tea factory. But not good tea. While going on with my searches, I leave you with this green and ochre-coloured harmony.


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

Tea is in the bag

What a beautiful warm evening light illuminating these string bags filled with fresh tea leaves. This is happening in Dellawa (Sri Lanka). In a few minutes, these leaves will be taken to the top floor of the tea factory where they’ll undergo the first stage of processing: withering. A stage that can take up to 20 hours for this type of black tea and consists simply in remaining the leaves spread out in thin, long and well ventilated trays. Water will thereby be taken out of the fresh tea leaves.


Posted in Country : Sri Lanka 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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