A great name does not always make great tea

Garden picking

In Darjeeling and Nepal, you cannot trust the name of a garden blindly. Of course, plantations such as Turzum, Singbulli, Puttabong, Thurbo, Margaret’s Hope and Castleton have a much higher reputation than others. The same goes for Guranse and Shangri La in Nepal. But it is essential to understand that even the most prestigious gardens cannot produce high-quality teas all the time. At some point in the year they end up selling pretty nondescript ones. During the rainy season, for example, even an experienced planter cannot produce good tea, because the leaves grow too quickly and have no time to develop their essential oils. Also, each plantation has plots that are more or less well oriented, and planted with different cultivars. On Monday you might produce a sublime tea using leaves harvested from an excellent plot, and on Tuesday produce a very ordinary tea from a different part of the plantation. To sum up: yes, some gardens can make remarkable teas, but watch out, as they also produce mediocre ones. So you have to be very selective, and taste a vast amount of tea, to be able to recognise the best.


Posted in Inspirational by François-Xavier Delmas | Tags : , ,

A vertical garden

A taiwanese tea garden under palm trees

Tea has a very good character. It gets on well with many plants. Here, high up in Taichung (Taiwan), it has a close relationship with Areca catechu. This palm provides the farmer with a supplementary income and our bushes with a little shade. It also lends an impressive verticality to these tea gardens, which are usually very horizontal.


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

Visiting Japan’s first tea gardens

It is worth visiting Japan’s first tea gardens. These ones were planted on the island of Kyushu, apparently around the 17th century. They are very small gardens, situated on the mountainsides. To visit them you must travel through dense forests, mainly made up of magnificent cryptomeria trees. You walk along a narrow, well-worn path and then, coming across a clearing, you discover a tea garden.


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

The first Tea School trip to Darjeeling

Carine Baudry, head of the Tea School, has just returned from Darjeeling. The trip was organised by the school to allow some of the students to visit the plantations and gain a first-hand understanding of how tea is made. Carine and her eight students stayed in the beautiful surroundings of a tea garden and observed every stage in the production process. They met several planters and were able to ask plenty of questions. They also visited Delmas Bari and admired the breathtaking landscapes of this Himalayan region. And there were plenty of opportunities to meet the smiling tea pluckers, like the two women pictured here.


Posted in Country : India, Palais des Thés 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 : , , , , , , ,

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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