The sinensis and assamica varieties

If you enjoy tea, you will probably know that there are two main varieties of Camellia sinensis used to make tea: Camellia sinensis var. sinensis, and Camellia sinensis var. assamica. Rather than getting bogged down in the Latin, here is a more practical explanation. The large-leaf teas come from the assamica strain, while the small-leaf teas – which have incomparable aromas and a hardiness that allows them to adapt to harsher climates – belong to the sinensis strain. It is self-explanatory that a producer looking for quantity over quality is likely to favour one over the other.

I would like to thank Laurence, manager of the Palais des Thés store on Rue du Commerce in Paris, for this photo she took while we were visiting a research centre in Northern India.

(photo: Laurence Jouanno)

Posted in Tea plant by François-Xavier Delmas | Tags : , ,

A good year starts with a good bed


Travelling to far-away places introduces me to unknown occupations. It’s said we should air our beds from time to time, and that’s probably because we don’t have a mattress shaker. The man knocks at your door and you give him your bedding. He begins by unpicking the stitching; then, using a stick, he mixes up all the stuffing – raw cotton in this case – before placing it back in the mattress, which he stitches up again. All ready for a good night’s sleep.

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

My tea travelling companions

Most of the time, I travel on my own. Nothing’s better than solitude to meet others, be receptive and start up relations. I go foward at my own pace, going from one plantation to another as I like. I stay there the time it takes to strike up a friendship with tea producers and learning the most about their work. In the evening, I look for a friendly inn and right after having sat down, I start up a conversation with my neighbours.
I make other trips with companions, study trips of example, during which we aim at learning everything possible about teas coming from a specific area. We then have to take notes, talk with producers or farmers, learn about the manufacturing process of each tea, ask endless questions and take lots of pictures at the same time… In that case, two or three of us are not too many to accomplish all these tasks!
My best trip companion in that case is Mathias, on the right of the photo, with whom I have been sharing the same passion for more than ten years. And Carine, on the left, who is in charge of the Tea School, is a perfect complement to us thanks to her career as an aroma specialist.
This photo was taken in Beipu, Taiwan, to be precise. Behind us, bamboo trays on which Bao Zhong tea leaves are left to sweat.

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

What a welcome in the tea plantation of Fuding !

Travelling is all about meeting other people. Many of the regions I’ve been to are not at all touristy. So the arrival of a foreigner is a big attraction for the children. Their reactions vary from surprise to hilarity. Here, in Fuding (China), I was welcomed with a cheerful and noisy fanfare! This strange bunch calls me “Big Nose”, as this is how Chinese people call us, whites.

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

The little Darjeeling train

These days, when everything has to be fast, modernisation has also affected the little Darjeeling train. For one of the daily services, the steam train lets out a big sigh and takes a break to make way for a diesel engine, as we can see here. So this is a bit of progress to be avoided, unless the journey itself is not your aim and all that matters is to get there quickly.

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Posted in Country : India 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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