My blog talks about encounters

My blog is about tea, but it’s also about meeting people. I didn’t know this lady. She was just standing outside her house, opposite a tea factory. I liked her pretty purple hat and the touches of purple under her coat set against the purple backdrop behind her. I knew nothing about this lady, except where she lived; we simply smiled at each other and I held up my camera – by way of asking her if I could take her photo – and she agreed. And there she was, and here she is. I’m so happy when I’m travelling, walking down the lanes of remote villages, or through the fields. I’m so happy when I photograph them, these men and women… we exchange a few words, we laugh and often we sit a while together, on a bench, a step, a stone… any place will do. And we get to know each other – just a brief encounter – then I go on my way again. And to share them with you, these faces, these moments… as I see it, that’s just as important.


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

When you travel alone it’s easier to meet people

I mostly travel alone. I depart alone, I return alone. This solitude encourages me to approach others. I’m more easily accepted by them, to be among them. Alone, you open up to others. We all need other people. Without a travel companion, you make more of an effort to adopt the culture of the people you meet. Alone, you’re more vulnerable, more permeable, more receptive. And that’s a good thing, because I travel to listen.


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

Modest appearances

In Nepal, factories often look quite makeshift, from the sheet roofing to the very basic structure. Teas are tasted outside, on trestles. This is a long way from Darjeeling, with its British colonial influence. But we shouldn’t judge by appearances. Inside these modest-looking buildings, the equipment is not only very good (small rolling machines from China or Taiwan, quality ovens, machines that delicately shape the leaves, etc.), but most of all, you find a unique expertise and creativity. The people are young and passionate – again, very different from the image of the established planter in Darjeeling. They live and breathe tea, and think of almost nothing else. Their sole objective is to make delicious teas, whatever the colour. The lack of a tea tradition in Nepal undoubtedly frees them up to explore new leaf shapes, new types of rolling, new approaches to production in general. “Handmade” Nepalese teas (as opposed to the crush, tear, curl teas and the big factories, which also exist in the Ilam region) have a bright future ahead of them.


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

Tea fields spiked with fans

Right down to the extreme south of Japan you can find these tea fields. They are recognisable for being spiked with fans, which are installed to prevent cold air from lingering around the tea plants. Here, I’m close to Kagoshima Bay, visible in the background, an important tea-producing region in the archipelago.


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

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 : , ,

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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