It is difficult to imagine the amount of work that goes into making the tea we drink. To produce one kilo of a top quality jasmine tea, for example, it takes 2.5 kilos of jasmine flowers, no less. With 100 flowers, you can make just 25 grams. So no fewer than 10,000 flowers, individually picked by hand, are needed to scent a kilo of tea. And the plucking of flowers in the time-honoured tradition, which I witnessed last week in southern China, sometimes takes place in scorching temperatures.
Instinctively, this photo makes me happy, because in Asia I discovered the pleasure of drinking tea in the evening, or even at night. In some western countries many people are reluctant to drink tea after 5 o’clock, but in China people enjoy it at any time, even late at night.
Sometimes, your cup is bathed in the warm reflections of the neon lights.
Camellia sinensis grows very happily on steep terrain, as it doesn’t like water stagnating around its roots. In some regions of the world, like Nepal, or here in Darjeeling, the slopes are very impressive. As I travel around the countryside I often discover a little village clinging onto the hillside above a field of tea. Sometimes you wonder how the pluckers manage to harvest the leaves in such conditions.
This summer, a number of you will be heading off on your travels. The Toy Train, too, is preparing for a scenic journey, as it leaves the station in Darjeeling. In eight hours it will be on the Terai plains, two thousand metres lower.