Sri Lanka

The art of picking leaves

2 October 2015
The art of picking leaves

To produce a high-quality tea, you must start by harvesting the leaves carefully; in other words, picking off the end shoot, the bud and the next two leaves. If you take off more leaves, the quality will suffer. So it is important to train the people doing the harvesting and to value their work.

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Escaping the city

25 September 2015
Escaping the city

I don’t like cars. Nothing gives me greater pleasure than to get out of town by train, escaping the crowds, and, through the open windows, feeling the factories, the dust and the noise becoming more distant. Gradually, nature takes over, like here, heading towards Kandy (Sri Lanka) and the tea plantations in the centre of the island.

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Tasting many teas

18 September 2015
Tasting many teas

It is no more difficult to taste thirty or forty teas than to taste two or three. On the contrary: you move quickly from one to the next, you spit each one out, you concentrate so you can compare them, and very quickly you know which one you prefer.

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Tea auctions in Sri Lanka

11 September 2015
Tea auctions in Sri Lanka

When I set off to visit Sri Lankan plantations, I stop off first in Colombo to taste the teas being sold at auction in the following days. It gives me a good idea of the quality being produced by the different gardens. Each of these boxes contains a few tea leaves and is marked with the lot number.

 

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Small-scale tea producers in Sri Lanka

14 February 2014
Small-scale tea producers in Sri Lanka

In the south of Sri Lanka there are many small-scale producers who grow tea and then sell the fresh leaves to one of the local factories. For them, tea represents one source of income among others, and they are not economically dependent on the price if it falls. They are tied by a yearly contract with a guaranteed price. They choose the factory they want to work with, and the factory is responsible for collecting the leaves. It is a fair system.

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Evocative tea plantations

6 December 2013
Evocative tea plantations

Nothing looks less like a tea plantation than another tea plantation. Here, in the south of Sri Lanka, tea bushes occupy the hills beside a paddy field and other different crops. Hence these subtle and evocative tones of green and yellow.

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Small plantation in the south of Sri Lanka

20 September 2013
Small plantation in the south of Sri Lanka

From one country to another, one region to another, the organisation of tea production varies. Sometimes I visit huge plantations that cover whole mountainsides. But many independent farmers grow their own tea plants around their house, like here in the south of Sri Lanka.

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The tea harvest in the south of Sri Lanka

15 March 2013
The tea harvest in the south of Sri Lanka

Sometimes the people who harvest tea don’t have the necessary equipment to process the leaves. In this case, they sell their crop to another farmer who is able to process it.
This is what happens in the south of Sri Lanka, where each tea factory dispatches vehicles to collect bags from small producers.

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Magnificent Sri Lankan landscape

28 December 2012
Magnificent Sri Lankan landscape

For those lucky enough to visit the beautiful country of Sri Lanka, this is the type of landscape found around the Sinharaja reserve in the south of the island.
This is the region where the low-grown teas are found, including the most famous, New Vithanakande.

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A winter harvest in Sri Lanka

21 December 2012
A winter harvest in Sri Lanka

The low sun illuminates these bags filled with freshly plucked tea leaves, creating a contrasting effect of light and shadow. The men work quickly, emptying the bags and spreading the leaves out on withering trays, so that there is no risk of them fermenting.
In some regions of Sri Lanka, tea is harvested at this time of year.

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