A photo reveals

12 April 2024
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Sometimes a photo poses a question. When the shutter is released, the photographer – on the other side of the lens, camera in hand – may not be aware of anything. They are absorbed in their subject, waiting for the right light, adjusting the framing, shutter speed and depth of field. It’s only when they see the photo on a computer screen that things are revealed. Here, for example, I can see the absence of trees. I didn’t notice at the time. How is that possible? And how is it possible to deforest in this way, to farm so intensively on such low hills?

But what I’m really struck by here is the mystery of photography, which sometimes works in two stages. First, it’s a response to appealing shapes and colours. Then there’s something deeper, which reveals itself afterwards.

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Wild and tamed nature

29 March 2024
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This photo is a beautiful sight, in my humble opinion. Tea bushes grow amid dense vegetation. A rugged, sloping landscape, numerous trees of different species… There’s a harmony between the cultivated plants and wild nature. It’s easy to imagine the wealth of flora and fauna to be found in such a diverse environment. For the amateur photographer in me, there’s pretty much only one colour – at first glance. On closer inspection, what a multitude, what variety! What better way to celebrate spring than with this abundance of greens?

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A better life

2 February 2024
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All over the world, men and women work the land. When you’re right there with them, you realise just how hard their work is. Spending time with them makes you aware of how they live. It reconnects you with what’s important. Above all, it makes you want to talk about them, to highlight what they do, what they harvest, what they know. In short, to support them. Here, for example, we’re working with people to help them produce teas that are more flavourful and interesting. These teas will earn them more money. This will help them to live better lives, to raise their children more easily and to benefit from better healthcare. They will be able to look ahead with more confidence and thus protect the future of this good way of working the land.

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Preparing for tea

19 January 2024
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Brewing tea isn’t the same as preparing for tea. While I brew my tea, I prepare myself for it. I slow down and take time to breathe. I let go of any worries and feel lighter. I focus my attention on a favourite object, a positive emotion or a beautiful view, like this one. A view of a garden. While my tea brews, and as I sip it, standing upright yet relaxed, it soothes me.

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Tea calms us

12 January 2024
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Sometimes I think about what tea does for me. Why does it make me feel so good? Today, I’ve been looking through my photos to inspire my thoughts. I came across this one, taken on the banks of the Ganges. When I look at it, I feel the same sense of calm that I get when I drink my favourite beverage. This photo has helped me to define how I benefit from tea. It calms me. When I make myself a cup of tea and hold it in my hands, I relax. I close my eyes, concentrate and feel free. I detach myself from things, break the invisible bonds that constrain me. Like this silhouette, this man-bird embracing the sky, free from gravity. Tea is an invitation to be calm.

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Tea reporter

8 December 2023
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Before I started working in tea, more than 36 years ago, I wanted to be a journalist. Since then, I’ve combined this original dream with my work in my own way, through my search for rare teas. I try my hand at reportage with this blog and with my podcast, Un thé, un voyage, which is another way of taking you on a journey.

When I meet villagers living in such poverty, like here, the reporter in me takes over and wonders: does the tea they harvest help them to live, and would they be worse off without it? Or does the tea – poor quality, worth little or nothing – help keep them in this situation?

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Who will take over from this generation in Japan?

13 July 2023
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One of the things you notice when you visit tea farms in Japan, going from factory to factory, is the age of the farmers. Often these couples represent the fourth, fifth, even sixth generation of tea producers in their family, but when you ask them about the next generation, there’s often no one left to take over. They have few or no children, and the latter are rarely inclined to carry on the family tradition. It’s a huge challenge for tea production in Japan. Of course, the land won’t disappear and the tea bushes probably won’t either: the fields will be taken over by a big tea company. But this mosaic of small producers, who farm an average of around 12 acres, contributes to the rich diversity of tea, as they all work with their preferred cultivars and the plants that are best suited to their terroir. I think it’s important to buy from them for as long as possible, to give the next generation every chance.

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A very classy tea

2 June 2023
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In Britain, tea is a ritual, or rather, rituals. There is breakfast tea to start the day, and later on, the much-loved tradition of afternoon tea. The latter is more of a meal than a beverage: the tea itself is important, but even more so is the setting, the quality of the china, and the accompanying cucumber sandwiches, cakes and scones with jam and whipped cream. The Duchess of Bedford started this tradition at the beginning of the nineteenth century. In those days, people ate their lunch early and their evening meal late, and the Duchess grew hungry later in the day. She began to ask for food to be served with her cup of tea in the afternoon. This soon turned into a sophisticated social occasion, a tradition that lives on across the country. Afternoon tea at one of London’s prestigious addresses will satisfy even the biggest appetites in the most refined surroundings complemented by discreet service. It is a social ritual of etiquette. A very classy tea indeed.

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Live free!

12 May 2023
Live free!

The gaiwan works as follows: after placing a large quantity of leaves in it, equivalent to around a third of its volume, the water is poured in. The first – short – infusion is poured into a “fairness cup” or directly into the drinking cups, and is followed by a second and then a third infusion.

The leaves are completely free during this series of brief infusions. Watch them unfurl. They are at home in water. Have you ever looked at tea leaves as they infuse? Have you ever seen them so relaxed? The gaiwan is not just a vessel for brewing tea, it’s a spectacle in itself. The object is beautiful, and the leaves inside are beautiful as they infuse. When we gently lift the lid, we can admire their colour, their shape, the way the water brings them back to life. And, of course, we can appreciate the aromas that emanate from them, which we can smell by lifting the inside of the lid to our nose.

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The simplicity of the gaiwan

5 May 2023
The simplicity of the gaiwan

Apart from the tasting set, which is sometimes used by professionals, there are different ways of brewing tea. In China there is the zhong or gaiwan; in Japan the shiboridashi or kyusu. In the West, the most commonly used vessel is the teapot. But why not explore lesser known objects? Today, I would like to talk to you about the gaiwan. It’s a very simple thing, consisting of a kind of bowl with a lid. Let’s take a look at it from the outside while the tea is brewing inside. The beauty of the gaiwan lies in its radical simplicity. What is the principle of brewing tea? It involves bringing the tea leaves into contact with water. As the leaves unfurl, they release their aromas and other elements. I can’t think of a better place to brew tea leaves than in this remarkable object. I could show you the inside of the gaiwan right now, but I’d rather wait. What I enjoy most while my tea is brewing is appreciating the vessel in which it’s brewing: its colour, the way the changing light plays on its surface, its material. I observe the roughness of the clay and my contemplation transports me to distant landscapes. This gaiwan was made in the Périgord region of France by a talented ceramist, Manon Clouzeau. Let’s have another look at our tea brewing under this delicate lid, which is so easy to hold. I’ll leave you to look at it and will see you soon. Next week, I’ll take the lid off.

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