A very simple tea

Artisanal tea producing

Many types of tea are produced using a specific method or cultivar, or on a defined terroir. While most of these teas are made on modestly sized smallholdings, they are sometimes processed on larger premises with bigger facilities, and even in factories that make tea on an industrial scale. The key difference with teas processed traditionally as opposed to industrially manufactured teas is the artisanal quality of the former; this involves skilled work done by hand, and the process is judged through the feel, appearance and smell of the leaves at every stage.

The most artisanal way of producing tea, however, can be seen here, and is very simple. I was honoured to be a guest of a man from the Dao ethnic group, who makes his tea at home. He throws fresh tea leaves onto the sides of a wok heated over a very hot fire. He shakes them constantly to dry them out and shape them, while never letting them burn. It’s a rudimentary method commonly used by people who live in tea-growing regions. In the cup, the liquor is fairly rough, powerful and quite astringent, and retains some of the smell of the fire. It wakes you up, and epitomises the simplicity and generosity of this rural hospitality, reminding you what life is really about.

 

 


Posted in Non classé by François-Xavier Delmas | Tags : , ,

“What’s the news?”

Taking a walk in Rwanda

There’s something no planter will ever stop me from doing, and that’s walking – setting out on foot for at least one or two hours, every day. I love it. Alone or in company, either way, I love to walk; I love meeting people, observing the changing light and weather, the beauty of blossom, the colour of cloth. I like to sit down on a doorstep and exchange smiles with people I know nothing about but with whom I share a connection, because we live on the same planet, of course, and also because tea probably plays a part in their lives too. You can learn a lot by walking: about the way people live, the methods they use to grow tea, the weather, the geography, and then all those colours and smells. Of course there are strange creatures too, sometimes snakes that are completely unknown, weird insects, things that jump. But I feel good. I sit on the edge of a rock when I want to admire something, when it’s beautiful, and simply because it’s good to take one’s time, to ask oneself what our purpose is on our small planet, to ponder the meaning of life. Tea makes you slow down. And tea also teaches you to be still, to learn to breathe, literally and figuratively; it teaches you to stop being so restless, running around from morning to night without really knowing why.

Here, three hours north of Kigali, on the little paths that wind through the mountains, there’s a lovely way to say “hello”. When you meet someone else, they greet you by raising their arms as if you’re a long-lost friend, with a joyful “Amakuru!” And this hello means “What’s the news?”


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

Tea in your cocktails – a novel and delicious idea!

Tea cocktail

 
You can use tea in many ways. In cooking, if there is water, milk or single cream in a recipe, for example, you simply infuse the tea in the liquid and filter it. I’ll come back to that subject soon. You can also make cocktails with tea. If you’d like to try it, you can infuse tea directly in alcohol, though you may have to use more tea and steep it for longer. You can also prepare a strong tea in the usual way, and use it as an ingredient. Herbal infusions are also very good in cocktails. Philippe Carraz, head barman at the Alcazar, is pictured here mixing a delicious non-alcoholic cocktail made from agave syrup, fresh ginger, our Romantic Garden and a few sprigs of thyme. Let me know what you think.


Posted in Tea and food pairing by François-Xavier Delmas | Tags : ,

Yaad Bahadur Limbu, “tea father” of Soyam

blog-05-12-2014

In his village of Soyam, Yaad Bahadur Limbu is known as the “tea father”. He was the first to plant tea in the village, and today, tea is its main source of income. Everyone is involved. To reach Soyam, you must cross a suspension bridge and then climb for several hours. You pass terraced rice paddies and fields of millet, and cross farmyards. When Soyam’s villagers harvest the tea leaves, they are transported on horseback. This requires four or five horses. They take the same path as the one that had me huffing and puffing, and they cross the same suspension bridge. Each horse wears a pack saddle allowing it to carry a load of 100 kilos. The caravan takes five hours to reach the factory, and must return to the village the same evening. It is a long expedition.


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

Nepal: exceptional teas and scenery

blog-07-11-2014

Nepal produces some very fine teas, but so few people know about them! You have to travel for hours, and sometimes walk, to reach the mountains where the tea is grown. On the way I admire the scenery, with the paddy fields carved into terraces. The farmers work using the old methods, with the help of a buffalo. Life passes slowly. You listen to the birds sing. They announce the harvest time.


Posted in Country : Nepal 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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