Tea pluckers looking like queens

In Assam, as soon as harvesting is finished, the pluckers assemble, men on one side, women on the other, and they set off with their precious baskets to the place where they will be weighed. Some women hold their baskets under their arms, but most rest them on their heads. A rolled-up piece of cloth placed precisely on the crown of the head serves to support the basket. These splendidly colourful fabrics look like crowns, making their wearers look like queens, I think.

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

In Turkey, one uses clippers to pluck tea

In general, good tea should be plucked by hand. The leaf bud and the first two leaves on each stem are plucked between the thumb and index finger, with a precise, rapid movement.

It is best to avoid the use of clippers, although they are commonly used in some regions of the world where tea is produced with less emphasis on quality. Although the farmers in the Rize region of Turkey are very friendly, hospitable people, it has to be said that their harvesting methods massacre the tea.

Here, I have dared to give them a helping hand and I’m a little ashamed, I must admit, to be caught red-handed using their tool.

Posted in Country : Turkey 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 : , , ,

Tea harvesting by the Adivasis in India

In the Dooars region of India, tea is often harvested by the people known as the Adivasis. Often despised by other Indians because they are right at the bottom of the social ladder, they benefit from positive discrimination, along with the lower castes. They don’t get much attention, which is another reason to talk about them here.

The Adivasis are one of India’s biggest tribal populations. They descend from the aborigines and live in the north-east of the country.

I took this photo at Meenglas, near Mal Bazaar, a few kilometres from the border with Bhutan. The Dooars region doesn’t produce very good quality tea, but that’s not important here. It was the smiling faces of these workers that I wanted to tell you about, not the rather coarse leaves filling their bags.

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

In China, harvesting of premium teas is in full swing

Here in China, the harvesting of premium teas is in full swing. Some farmers have their own buildings equipped with various machines for processing the tea. Others, like Mr Li, sell their freshly plucked leaves to bigger farmers who have the necessary facilities.

Once harvested, tea spoils quickly. Here, at the Fuding tea market, Mr Li absolutely must find a buyer in the next two hours. With the quality of his leaves, he should have no difficulty, and he gives a big smile for the camera.

Posted in Country : China 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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