After a trip in the amazing Reunion island entered World Heritage Site by Unesco in 2010 2010, French overseas department placed on Indian ocean between Madagascar and Mauritius, we had the pleasure to savour and find out the only French production of tea, and organic in addition!
In Reunion Island, tea production isn’t a new thing. It has been introduced on the Island in 1965 within culture diversification. In 1967, renowned tea, the production amount to 29 tons and 40 tons in 1969 then stopped in 1972.
In July 2005, Johnny Guichard took responsibility of an old exploitation of tea dates back to 1955 and refitted it.Perched at 1 100m altitude at the foot of primary forest of Reunion, the exploitation is located in Grand Coud at the south east of Reunion Island.
The exploitation can boasts being the only tea production of France. However, Johnny Guichard has specialized in organic premium tea under the brand Le Labyrinthe En Champ Th with white tea and white tea-flavoured with many flavours; cinnamon, lemongrass, rosat geranium, lemon geranium, lemon eucalyptus, vanilla, mint, lemongrass.
Family production, the exploitation of organic white tea of 3 hectares produces 4-6 tons of organic white tea each year.
Regardless of the conventional wisdom, tea is not a shrub but a tree that could achieve 20 m in height. It really is cut at breast height to permit the collection.
Another idea unknown to the general public, tea plants are grafted together naturally in forest. Their branches intersect and end up “merge”.
The harvesting of organic white tea from the exploitation is done over summer and winter except in June and July.
Tea production as any agricultural crop follows a particular process. The distinctive feature of the exploitation of the Labyrinth is that every step is done by hand.
1 – The first step may be the cutting of tea plants.
2 – Tea culture : tea grows until it reaches its size of harvest.
3 – Picking : Once the tea has reached harvestable size, it really is picked by hand. But not at any time of day, in the morning when the dew continues to be present.
In Asia, they often practice imperial picking; only the tiny terminal bud is removed. But white tea harvesting can also be done by fin picking (bud and the two leaves after), which the Labyrinth uses.
4. Drying: tea is naturally dried in a workshop, away from the sun, on crates.
5. Flavour: tea-flavoured on the exploitation is made with different dried plants apart, then, they’re mixed with the white tea.
6. Grinding : tea is ground yourself.
7. Triage: It is done yourself, the large stems is removed to keep only the leaves and buds. However it mays that thin stems manage to slip into the lot.
8. Packaging and labelling: it really is still done by hand. The aim of the Labyrinth in a medium or long-term is to acquire a machine that can do this work and invite them to pack quicker larger quantities of white tea.
What Makes AN EXCELLENT Tea
If these operations seem simple what differentiates an excellent tea to a bad tea.
Like good wine, good tea originates from a good soil. And Reunion Island in Grand Coud gets the essential qualities for making a high-standard tea. Having been fallow for nearly 40 years, the soil is rich. Nevertheless, a good soil is a very good start however, not only.
Other determinants components are picking. The harvest time is critical. The Labyrinth En Champ Th makes this during the morning where the air is still cool and where dew continues to be present.
Then, drying can be important. Tea should be dried at the time of packaging. This step allows a good preservation of tea.
Certification In All This
Organic tea and the standard one make a difference on the tea quality. The benefits are obviously good for the environment and this is particularly true for the Labyrinth En Champ Th which does not usage of chemicals inputs and respects the ecosystem.The tea is even better.
Certified “AB – Agriculture Biologique”, the French equivalent of USDA Organic for all of us and Soil Association for UK, the exploitation must follow precise specifications and receives one scheduled visit of “AB” auditors one per year and unscheduled visits, 2-3 3 checks per year.
The auditors shall audit the seeds, crops and how farmers are powered by the tea. The audit is star with a theoretical phase which is verification of specifications and a practical phase on the field.
Also, the specificity of Grand Coud organic white tea is that, at any time, it is treated. The soil is fed with compost from tea plants. Tea is left to cultivate at its own pace without the usage of chemical fertilizers and tea fields are left in their natural environment.
The other feature is that we now have no diseases or pests on the exploitation up to now, so there is no need of treatment. Also, by manual labour at all stages of tea production, the total amount of the ecosystem is preserved.
Moreover, the exploitation is moving to a production in agro forestry in short-term (tea growing undergrowth) tea plants, being in the woods, will undoubtedly be shaded. One hand, it’ll allow to further increase the quality of tea and to facilitate the picking.
A Matter Of Taste
White tea is tea, that undergoes minimal processing where are took only the buds and young shoots (leaves, the two that follow). This is one of the reasons why white tea is a premium tea and has not a full flavored taste like green tea or black tea.
White tea is known as the best tea but of course everyone has their preferences.
White teas, like all teas, have antioxidant properties, but white tea is lower in theine. Because of that this is a light tea that could be appreciated until the evening.
White tea requires an infusion longer than green or black tea (15 mn). The organic white tea from Reunion gives off a nice sweetness on the palate that makes it subtle, without any bitterness. Namely, that cardio machines buying guide that prefer green tea to black tea, enjoy more.