Jukro from South Korea is one of the finest quality teas in the world. I know just one farmer who produces it. He can only do so in the first days of May, using his best leaves. The quantity obtained is so small that only a few customers are able to enjoy it. I think you can imagine how eagerly I anticipate his new plucking every year. The richness of the tea’s flavours and its complexity and length in the mouth are worth tasting at least once in a lifetime.
At the moment there is much talk of the violence in Ukraine; tomorrow it will be somewhere else. Violence, blood, weapons: it is as if man cannot live without them. The quality of this photo is not good, I took it quickly, in Nepal, during a visit by the army to the tea plantation where I was staying. That was a few years ago, when the country was experiencing a bloody conflict, but at that particular moment, despite the fighting, the soldiers wanted to put down their weapons and enjoy a good cup of tea.
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.
If you have a garden of any size, you know that between autumn and spring, aside from when the ground is frozen, there is always work to be getting on with, such as pruning. In the tea fields, too, this period is put to good use: every tree is examined and given the necessary care. As with a fruit tree, the plant is assessed before the winter pruning is carried out. This cutting back, which is not performed every year, helps the shrub to put on new growth.