Good news from Japan! All the teas harvested since the start of the season by the farmers we work with have shown normal levels of becquerels. This is a huge relief for the growers as well as for fans of senchas and other gyokuros. Of course, we will continue to be highly vigilant and to analyse each lot before making it available for sale, to ensure it is completely safe and allow us to enjoy our tea with peace of mind.
Carine Baudry, who runs the Tea School, travelled to Darjeeling last month accompanied by eight of her students. What a trip! This was a first for Carine, who returned just as enchanted as her fellow travellers, to whom she introduced this magnificent region and the art of producing tea. Carine has often travelled with me in India, Japan and China. But this was the first time she’d had the pleasure of teaching in the production region itself.
On the right, in the blue shirt, is Rajiv Gupta, manager of the Tumsong plantation.
It must be nearly 10 years since a plot of land on the North Tukvar estate was given my name. In high season, these hectares produce a remarkable tea thanks to the skill of the planter, of course, but also because of the quality of the tea plants selected. They are among my favourites.
For the first time, a single lot of tea from this plot has arrived in Paris. For fans of delicate, fruity, vegetal notes and the fragrance of white flowers, this is its name: Darjeeling North Tukvar DJ14 Delmas Bari.
While many of you are taking advantage of the long weekend of the Ascension holiday to escape to the country, I’m in Paris at my tasting table with an impressive number of samples before me. I won’t have time to taste them all over the weekend. In Darjeeling, the harvests are over, but I’m now receiving new-season green teas from China, all very fine examples indeed. Every year, their vegetal aroma is like a big bowl of fresh air. I’m also getting sent most of the Nepalese teas which, in nearly a decade, have achieved excellent standards. New gardens are joining them and making themselves known. Excellence is worth waiting for – it has taken them years to reach this point. Just like these young tea plants, which are receiving such attentive care.
The leaves of the tea plant attract many predators, undoubtedly due to their delicious taste.
In addition to its gastronomic qualities, tea is supposed to promote wellbeing and serenity. This harmless frog, very much at ease, would surely agree.
In China, tea is often infused directly in the glass. As you drink your “cha”, your host tops it up with hot water. To stop the leaves going in your mouth, you bring your teeth together, which doesn’t prevent you from smiling at the same time.
The little Darjeeling train is completely unpredictable. From time to time it travels without carriages. A few lucky passengers seem to be allowed though, on condition that they can hold a contorted pose for a long time. They hang their bags wherever they can, and simply put any other luggage on the roof of the locomotive.
On the tea plantations there are plenty of ideas for trapping harmful insects. For example, here in Hangzhou, they place little panels covered in glue everywhere among the tea plants. The fluorescent yellow of the boards attracts the insects, but most of all it is the pheromones in which they are coated that appeals so much to bugs.
These are clearly unrelated to all the election boards that are flourishing, right up until this weekend, all around our voting stations.
Most of the time I travel the tea routes alone, but I also really enjoy sharing with my colleagues the pleasure of walking among the tea plants and observing all the stages of the processing. These trips are very rewarding because we can spend time together talking about our shared passion, understanding, learning, tasting all sorts of teas, and discussing them endlessly. Here, on the right of Waterqian, who produces Bi Luo Chun, and in the middle of his tea garden, are Aurélie, Carine, Cyrille and Mathias. I took this photo last week.