In China, Fujian is one of the most important tea-producing provinces. Important from a historical perspective, because the first shipments of teas bound for Europe left from its ports; important also in terms of the tea itself, because Fujian is the country’s only province that grows Oolongs and the legendary white teas, as well as green teas, black teas, smoked teas and the finest jasmine teas in the country. It’s an incredible variety.
There is nothing I enjoy more than thinking about what tea I will drink next. For me, the pleasure of tea begins as soon as I lift the lids from my canisters, inhale the scent of the leaves and decide which one is best suited to the moment, mood and season.
From time to time, this exercise moves beyond the close confines of the teapot, when considering which tea will go best with a particular food. A few days ago, the journalist Laura Annaert arranged a meeting between the well-known pâtissier Daniel Rebert and myself at the Royal Monceau Hotel in Paris. She wanted to listen to us both as we decided on suitable pairings between Daniel’s creations and my selection of fine teas. Together, we tasted a Butterfly of Taiwan, a Qimen Imperial and a Shiraore Kuki Hojicha at different temperatures. We compared the textures, the toasted and toothsome notes, and the aromas of leather, cocoa and wood, while enjoying delicious millefeuilles, biscuits and chocolates. It was a very fruitful discussion!
(photo: Victoire Avril)
Travelling to far-away places introduces me to unknown occupations. It’s said we should air our beds from time to time, and that’s probably because we don’t have a mattress shaker. The man knocks at your door and you give him your bedding. He begins by unpicking the stitching; then, using a stick, he mixes up all the stuffing – raw cotton in this case – before placing it back in the mattress, which he stitches up again. All ready for a good night’s sleep.
School is a place of learning: learning about knowledge, about language, but that’s not all. Learning about living life together, too. At school, we meet other children who might be different from ourselves, they might be stronger, weaker, richer, poorer, they might have a disability, they might have different opinions. They might come from a variety of backgrounds, they might have a different skin colour, a different religion. School is a place where we learn to live together. Language, tolerance and laughter helps form us as men and women.
Seeing in the new year can be an opportunity to celebrate, but also to take a look at oneself, to review the past year and make some resolutions. It can be good, sometimes, to look at the world with fresh eyes, to try and see the positive in things. It can be good to think how lucky we are, and to consider what we could do to make the world a better place tomorrow than it is today. I wish you a very Happy New Year, I hope you travel along some rewarding paths, and do some interesting and enjoyable things. I hope, whatever your age, that you have a good life ahead of you.