Who is Mr Tian?

Wen Rong Tian has had two lives: the first as a physical education teacher; the second, which began 27 years ago, as a tea producer. From the first he has kept his love of a healthy life, and follows a daily programme of vigorous exercise and a strict diet. The second came from his father, who managed a tea factory for 20 years. However, son has surpassed father: today, Wen Rong Tian is one of the main, if not the leading, producer of black tea in Yunnan. He makes excellent teas and even claims to have created the famous Yunnan Golden Buds and Golden Needle teas produced in the province. I visited him near Baoshan, where he lives. His passion lies not so much with walking though tea fields as spending all his time tasting his teas and improving production processes. He lives, sleeps, eats and breathes just a few metres from his factory. What gives him the most pride is to make some of the most amazing teas in the world, just from simple leaves. And unlike many Chinese producers, he prefers black teas to green teas, for their generous aromas and smooth presence.


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

Good Nepalese teas annoy Darjeeling producers

Indian tea producers are complaining about unfair competition from Nepal, and I don’t buy their argument. They don’t complain that Japan, China and other countries produce tea, they have to deal with it. But with Nepal, India is behaving as if it could put pressure on this country, which has no access to the sea, to impose conditions, make it pay taxes, and in this way prevent it from exporting its tea. Nepal is a particularly poor country which buys most of its consumer goods from India, and is therefore dependant on India to a certain extent. India is using this to its advantage. Among the complaints levelled by Indian producers, particularly those in Darjeeling, is that Nepalese teas create unfair competition for Darjeelings. But to my mind, Nepalese teas have their own character, they are recognisable, they don’t need the prestige of Darjeeling to enjoy success. They offer excellent value for money, much better than Darjeelings, and it is most likely this which is irritating India most. Lastly, and this is a positive thing, Nepal is starting to build a good reputation for itself in tea. This is a great improvement on the dodgy dealings that have been going on for years with certain unscrupulous Darjeeling gardens, who bring in fresh tea leaves from Nepal at low prices, process them in India, and then pass them off as pure Darjeelings!


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

A delightful gift from a Japanese supplier

When I meet tea producers we always exchange small gifts. It’s a nice way of expressing our pleasure at working together.

One of our Japanese suppliers with whom I’ve just spent the day has given me these delightful ceramic figures. I photographed them in the morning light, before making them an offering of a Gyokuro. Looking at them fills me with a sense of calm and wellbeing.


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

In Japan, the harvests of tea are also delayed

These days I was nearby Shizuoka, the main tea producing region of Japan. I took this picture in Tawaramine, a highly considered place for growing tea. Beyond the harmonious curve made by the row of tea trees, one can see the city of Shizuoka spreading out on the border of the Pacific.

The farmers of Tawaramine, just like the ones of the other surrounding mountains (Asahina, Hirayama…), don’t have much to complain this year. The harvesting of tea is of course very much delayed this year due to the cold weather of April and the shoots are only beginning to show up. However they do not have to experience the disaster of their colleagues located on the Makinohara plateau: because of a lower altitude and an early spring followed by a rough cold snap, the tea trees have simply frozen, and as a result the production of tea is partly compromised for them.

So from Darjeeling to Shizuoka, from Yunnan to Anhui and from Zhejiang to Fujian, the harvests are really delayed this year.


Posted in Country : Japan 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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