Life is about meeting people, about trajectories that follow one another or cross paths. Life is a path.
I dedicate this photo to Emilie who has looked after my blog since it started. I record my thoughts, but it is Emilie who presents them so beautifully. She gives them titles. She also searches through my many photos, sometimes cropping one for better effect. And she gives my writing a second life on the social networks.
Emilie is now taking another path, and I’ll miss her. I’d also like to thank her for the quality of her work. I hope she enjoys the road ahead. And I hope it is as beautiful as this one, which winds its way between the tea plants towards Darjeeling.
When I meet tea producers we always exchange small gifts. It’s a nice way of expressing our pleasure at working together.
One of our Japanese suppliers with whom I’ve just spent the day has given me these delightful ceramic figures. I photographed them in the morning light, before making them an offering of a Gyokuro. Looking at them fills me with a sense of calm and wellbeing.
There are many ways of drinking tea. At home you can use a teapot, a mug, a “kyusu” or a “zhong”, to name a few…
When I visit farmers I discover other methods of preparing tea, sometimes using different equipment. So I adapt my approach to the tasting according to the method used. Here, with our producer of Dan Congs, the teas are infused three times in a row, in a zhong, and each infusion is poured immediately into one of the bowls set out in front. We taste each of the three liquors, and can then easily assess the tea’s potential to be prepared using the “Gong Fu Cha”.
The little train of Darjeeling is a familiar sight on my blog. It comes and goes whenever it pleases, without so much as a by-your-leave. And it doesn’t just do this on my pages either: look how casually it makes use of the road when it fancies! Other vehicles have to watch out when this train is about.
During the months of July and August there are heavy rains in Darjeeling, and many landslides occur in the weeks following the downpours. Sometimes you see a pretty little village that appears to be suspended over a ravine.
The tea plants you see in the foreground and on the slope itself are near Lingia.
During the warm, humid seasons the leaves of the tea plant attract all sorts of insects. You must either keep away the bugs or eliminate them if you don’t want your crop ruined. Rather than using products that degrade the quality of the tea, are not good for the environment and are also costly, farmers often come up with ingenious solutions. Here, near the Village of the Monkeys (China), they have created a solar-powered insect trap.
There are few places in the world where tea is harvested from full-sized tea plants. On most plantations the camellia bushes are maintained at waist height. However, in regions where Pu Ers are produced, as well as here on Feng Huang mountain (China), the leaves of large tea plants are considered to have a superior aromatic quality.
If you have never tasted them, I suggest you try Dan Cong Wu Long as well as the oxidised Dan Cong – both are exceptionally subtle. They come from these large tea plants and were plucked by Mrs Huang, pictured here hard at work.
In southern China, on the slopes of Phoenix Mountain, tea bushes are planted on terraces due to the steep gradients. This way of organising tea bushes is quite a rare sight around the world. Here, it makes this tea plantation on a mountainside where some remarkable wu longs are grown look a bit like a vineyard.