Nepal

Spare a thought for Nepal

27 May 2016
Spare a thought for Nepal

It’s more than a year since Nepal was hit by a powerful earthquake. And since then, for many villagers, life has not improved. In this country that is very rural and particularly mountainous, the aid they were promised has not been forthcoming. Many people are living in their houses as before: they have placed a makeshift roof over the ruins, and life goes on. But what will happen to them after the monsoon, what will they have left after the rainy season that turns everything into mud?

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Spring follows spring

20 May 2016
Spring follows spring

After Darjeeling, we turn our attention to Nepal, China and Japan, to enjoy their new spring teas. In Japan, we return to the farmers we know, and we also enjoy discovering teas from others. In China, we are guided by the traditional appellations, which are attached to a particular village. In Nepal, we know which plantations are capable of producing the best teas at particular times of year. There is sometimes an added difficulty though, like here at Kuwapani. The planter, who was an employee rather than the owner of the plantation, has left. What will the results be like under his successor? We’ll know the answer in a few months’ time. Meanwhile, let’s enjoy tasting the new teas this spring has to offer!

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Darjeeling teas and Nepalese teas: two schools

15 April 2016
Darjeeling teas and Nepalese teas: two schools

Due to a way of thinking I don’t share, Darjeeling tea producers fear competition from their Nepalese neighbours. They think the latter are copying them and can sell their teas more cheaply, because of their lower production costs.

Yes, Nepalese teas sometimes offer good value for money, but they are not copies of Darjeelings. There are some passionate planters in Nepal who know that their country still needs to prove itself to gain recognition in the world of tea, and as a result, they try to be innovative. In Darjeeling, planters are in a more comfortable position due to their reputation that is often – but not always – merited.

So, they are two different worlds: innovation on one side, tradition on the other. By looking carefully and being highly selective, you can find excellent teas on both sides of the border. And it would be a shame to deprive yourself of either kind.

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Building a harmonious future

1 January 2016
Building a harmonious future

You can say what you like, I remain convinced that education is the key to a society where everyone lives together in harmony. The key to equal opportunities. When I travel through the tea fields, I never miss an opportunity to visit the village school, to chat with the students and the teachers.

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The finest teas in the world under the tree

18 December 2015
The finest teas in the world under the tree

This man dressed in red with a basket on his back, do you recognise him? He is filling his basket with the greatest care, delicately picking the best tea shoots, for you. A few fir trees can be seen through the mist. I hope that, at the bottom of your tree, in a few days’ time, he will place the finest teas in the world.

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Tea liquor

11 December 2015
Tea liquor

Looking at the liquor is one of the first steps in tea tasting. While the temperature of the cup slowly falls, we pay attention to the colour of the liquid. Green tea produces something pale, while black tea gives a more coppery tone. This does not mean darker tea has been infused for longer, or has a more pronounced fragrance than its neighbour. In fact there are green teas that have a remarkably powerful aroma, even after quite a short infusion. So we cannot conclude from this photo that the most aromatic tea will be the more coloured of the two.

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Loving one’s country

27 November 2015
Loving one’s country

At a time when we are seeing our French flag flying everywhere, I have rediscovered this wonderful photo. Last May, when their country had just been hit by a serious earthquake, these children proudly showed off their “I love Nepal” slogans, with big heart-warming smiles on their faces. These children have every reason to love their beautiful country.

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May we be enlightened

13 November 2015
May we be enlightened

A few days ago I was lucky enough to meet the monk, Matthieu Ricard. It was a joy to listen to him speak. When you hear him, you feel light. You tell yourself that happiness is our responsibility. The happiness of others, first (ours comes indirectly, like the cherry on the cake). A few days later, I was in Nepal. I was helping a planter friend who is starting a great project, taking over an abandoned tea plantation between Kathmandu and Tibet. After walking for several hours between tea plants that were often taller than us, we sat down to catch our breath. We turned around to admire the view, and luckily just at that moment the sunlight pierced through. A light unlike any other. Something very beautiful, a halo of light that caressed the tea plants.

I thought about that fine English word, “enlightened”, I thought again of Matthieu Ricard, and I thought about the beauty of our planet, of course. As we sat there, my friend and I marvelled at it. It illuminated us. But why is it so difficult for so many people to feel this beauty? Why don’t they see it? Why do men keep trying to destroy our poor planet, day after day, throughout our lives? Why do they bring in their tarmac, plastic and bulldozers, their manic industrialisation and advertising hoardings, their deforestation and frenzied consumption, to lay waste to this Earth? For whose selfish happiness? And where is the Other? Who is thinking of our future generations?

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Tasting and contemplating

28 August 2015
Tasting and contemplating

The advantage of photographing a window is that you can layer two images: here, the tasting set being prepared, and the landscape reflected in the glass. It’s fun to combine and merge the two views. The meaning of the tasting becomes clearer: we drink the tea, which comes from nature, surrounded by the land from which it originated.

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Meticulous work

31 July 2015
Meticulous work

While you’re brewing your tea, you can’t always imagine how much work has gone into it already, with the harvesting and processing of each little leaf. The manual sorting, done leaf by leaf to remove any stems, is just as painstaking.

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