It’s more than a year since Nepal was hit by a powerful earthquake. And since then, for many villagers, life has not improved. In this country that is very rural and particularly mountainous, the aid they were promised has not been forthcoming. Many people are living in their houses as before: they have placed a makeshift roof over the ruins, and life goes on. But what will happen to them after the monsoon, what will they have left after the rainy season that turns everything into mud?
After Darjeeling, we turn our attention to Nepal, China and Japan, to enjoy their new spring teas. In Japan, we return to the farmers we know, and we also enjoy discovering teas from others. In China, we are guided by the traditional appellations, which are attached to a particular village. In Nepal, we know which plantations are capable of producing the best teas at particular times of year. There is sometimes an added difficulty though, like here at Kuwapani. The planter, who was an employee rather than the owner of the plantation, has left. What will the results be like under his successor? We’ll know the answer in a few months’ time. Meanwhile, let’s enjoy tasting the new teas this spring has to offer!
You can use tea in many ways. In cooking, if there is water, milk or single cream in a recipe, for example, you simply infuse the tea in the liquid and filter it. I’ll come back to that subject soon. You can also make cocktails with tea. If you’d like to try it, you can infuse tea directly in alcohol, though you may have to use more tea and steep it for longer. You can also prepare a strong tea in the usual way, and use it as an ingredient. Herbal infusions are also very good in cocktails. Philippe Carraz, head barman at the Alcazar, is pictured here mixing a delicious non-alcoholic cocktail made from agave syrup, fresh ginger, our Romantic Garden and a few sprigs of thyme. Let me know what you think.
You know how they are, tea drinkers – they can be obsessive. They save a special teapot for a particular tea, they infuse some teas for exactly three minutes and 45 seconds in water at 85°C, others for just two minutes in water at a maximum temperature of 60°C.
So this photo I took in Kolkata makes me smile. Firstly, because I really enjoy drinking chai when I’m in India. Secondly, because all the tea-drinker’s principles have gone out of the window here. This chai wallah boils up his water, puts milk in his tea, adds a load of spices and works in basic conditions, seated on a scrap of cardboard placed on the pavement, without fanfare. And that’s what tea is about, too: simply made, with care, and an absolutely delicious drink in a cup. Chai is great!