With many of you currently heading off to the green countryside, I dedicate this photo to you, and hope you enjoy your holidays. As for me, I’m surrounded by greenery all year round in the tea fields, and I’ll continue to bring you news throughout the summer. The tea plants won’t stop growing while you’re at the seaside! And don’t forget to prepare a jug of your favourite iced tea to take with you and keep you cool on the beach!
Spending your life in the tea fields does not prevent you from wandering around the tea plantations and raising your eyes to admire the nature around you. Here in Nepal, wild orchids grow right on the tree bark. Alongside them live many other delicately coloured flowers and mosses.
This year, during the Long Jing harvest, the team from Le Palais des Thés lent a hand – in the wok. Here, Carine Baudry, head of the Tea School, is listening carefully to the advice being given by Professor Liang. Yuerong Liang is director of the Tea Research Centre at the Agricultural University of Hangzhou. He explains the great skill involved in processing Long Jing: it requires an extremely precise hand movement, and you must be very careful not to burn yourself.
When you have taken part in the making of a tea, you appreciate it even more when it comes to tasting it.
Taiping Hou Kui is known as a precious tea among the Chinese, but very few have had the opportunity of tasting it even once in their life.
Here, we are in Hou Kui, in the famous “Village of the Monkeys”, the birthplace of this tea and its most well-known production site. In the main factory of the village, employees work beneath the gaze of the Russian president, who is very fond of this fine Chinese tea and received some as a gift from Hu Jintao. The tea given by the Chinese president to his Russian counterpart was made in this very factory, so you can imagine the pride of all the workers.
If, like Vladimir Putin, you like Taiping Hou Kui, then this is the time to make the most of it. The 2012 plucking is now available.
Long Jing is processed in a large wok. The work requires plenty of dexterity as the tea must be kept moving at all times. The leaves are withered, rolled and dried in a continuous process and in the same recipient, simply by varying the hand movement.
In the cup you will find a note of roast chestnut, which comes from this toasting of the leaves.
If you’re looking for an unusual place to take your wedding photos, and like something a little different, why not try the Long Jing tea plantations (China). While his assistant reflects sunlight onto your radiant faces, the photographer will know just how to immortalise the special moment. Also, the same photographer will generally have some useful accessories to help your pictures stand out from others, instantly giving the happy couple a little more extra style.
For the first time, a few weeks ago, I bought a lot of a spring tea from the Kanchenjunga Tea Estate. This Nepalese plantation, situated in the middle of nowhere – two day’s travel across the Terai Plain – is one of the most promising in the country.
While there, you can admire the incredible steepness of the slopes as you realise how difficult it must be to harvest the leaves on such a gradient. As for this narrow path which snakes around the side of the mountain, and along which I have seen villagers walking, laden down like mules, it is the only route for the inhabitants of other hamlets located a few days’ walk from here.
In Chinese tea factories, at mealtimes, everyone puts aside their work, arranges the tables and prepares for the festivities. Eating is one of the favourite pastimes of the Chinese. It is often a moment of conviviality and relaxation, a simple occasion shared by all. It ends with a tea, and sometimes a nap.
Many of you will be preparing for the holidays, so here is a view of the West Lake, a Chinese tourist hot-spot. Situated in the middle of the city of Hangzhou, this lake is a dream destination for our friends in China.
Happily, it is possible to enjoy this view while tasting a remarkable, freshly-harvested green tea, as Long Jing is located just a few kilometres away. This proximity to the birthplace of the most famous Chinese tea has its part to play in Hangzhou’s excellent reputation.