The job of a tea sourcer requires patience. Tea grows at its own speed; you can’t rush it. Manual harvesting requires precision, as does each stage in the processing of the tea. And lastly there is transport, which essentially takes place by boat, truck and sometimes horseback for the first stage in the tea leaves’ journey.
We must also take into account random events – an accident, a strike, political tension and, of course, Covid.
A year and a half ago we bought a delicious green tea and an equally delicious oxidised raw tea from small producers in Shan state in northern Myanmar. No-one knows where they are. They might be on one of those flimsy boats you see on the country’s waterways, unless they haven’t left the farm yet. That’s life.
One silver lining of Covid-19 is that it has brought some tranquillity to beautiful places that are often overrun by hordes of tourists. In Myanmar, Inle Lake is one of those wonderful destinations that it is important to protect. There’s no doubt that, for the planet, the pandemic has brought some peace.
I hope you all have a good summer and I look forward to seeing you back here on 10 September.
You won’t get to know the fishermen of Inle Lake this summer. Balanced right at the end of their dugout canoe, they make a rotational movement with their leg wrapped around the oar and guide the fish in a mysterious way towards the net they hold in one hand.
Viewed from the perspective of a traveller like me, and judging by the frequency of their catches, the ease and poetry of their movement repeated thousands of times contrasts with its apparent efficacy. I hope you enjoy your holidays. If you try this fishing technique for yourselves, wherever you are, let me know how you get on.
Tea isn’t only drunk, it can be eaten too. In Myanmar, for example, lahpet, or lahpet thoke, is a national dish. It’s a salad made from fermented tea leaves to which are added vegetables, fruit, meat or dried shrimps, for example, as well as spices. It’s delicious!
To accompany my New Year’s greetings to you, I’ve chosen this photo of a bridge. I love bridges, great and small. I love anything that spans a chasm and connects people. Some people build walls, others build bridges. There are people who shut themselves off, who want to surround themselves with barriers. Others throw down ropes or ladders into the void; they aren’t put off by precipices or obstacles or difficulties of any kind. They overcome them. Some people are fearful, some people are trusting. I wish you a Happy New Year full of bridges, challenges, daring. I hope you are able to follow your heart.
The holiday season is upon us and with it, for many of you, comes the desire to take a dip. In Myanmar, Inle Lake is breathtakingly beautiful. The blue sky merges with the waters of the lake. Speaking of taking a dip, the houses here are built on stilts, and people grow their vegetables on small plots of floating earth. It’s magical.
Vous êtes nombreux en cette période estivale à vous mettre au vert pour quelques semaines. Au vert, je vous y invite tout au long de l’année à travers mes billets, à travers mes photos, à travers ces champs de thé qui ondulent à perte de vue. En cette saison de transhumance, je vous invite cette fois-ci au bleu plutôt qu’au vert, je vous emmène sur les rives de mon lac préféré, le lac Inlé (Myanmar), pour vous souhaiter de belles semaines de vacances !
When it comes to tea drinking, customs change from country to country. In Burma, for example, tea is served slightly diluted with sweetened condensed milk. You can like or not like this way of doing things, but one of camellia sinensis’ many qualities is its tolerance and its ability to make the people of our planet want to adapt it to their own taste.
If I had to choose one image to illustrate my work, I’d choose this one. A picture of a bridge. A footbridge. A bridge linking two worlds: the world of tea producers on one side with the world of tea enthusiasts on the other.
A bridge between East and West. A bridge between those who cultivate slow living with those who want to return to it. By drinking tea, for example.
In a recent interview, a journalist asked me why I drink tea.
I drink tea to relax, to find a moment’s peace, to create some space for myself. I drink tea to stay calm, to give myself a break, to do myself good. I drink tea in the same way that others practice yoga, to keep myself feeling good, to replenish. And I also drink tea for the pleasure of making it and the pleasure of serving it to others. I drink tea for the happiness that comes from sharing it.