This month, we asked Carine Baudry, a tea expert and emblematic jury member of the contest «Teas of the World», to tell us about her travels and her encounters with the AVPA winning producers.
What countries have you been to recently?
I went to India and Nepal in April for the first flush harvest, and most recently to Malawi, in Africa.
Who did you meet in those countries?
In India and Nepal, I visited tea gardens and producers I have been working with for a few years. It is a great joy to encounter them again after almost three years without the possibility to travel. But those trips are also an occasion to discover new tea gardens and new gems!
In Malawi, I went to a beautiful plantation, Satemwa.
How do AVPA winners you encounter use their medals?
AVPA winners are always very happy and proud to receive that prize. The contest has solely existed for a couple of years, yet it is already well-known in these countries. When I can, I always strive to hand-deliver the medals received to the producers because I know how important it is to them. The recognition of their work by the West and more particularly France, which is a reference in terms of gastronomy, is very rewarding.
The medals and diplomas are displayed in their factory to show these distinctions to visitors and buyers. They also indicate it in their communication documents.
What can participate in an AVPA contest bring them?
A recognition of their work in the West. The culture and process of tea is a difficult type of work. Nature and men’s talent are significant. This contest is giving them the guarantee that their teas are standing out—by their sensory quality—from others. It allows them to be evaluated by a group that uses Western standards. A plus for them as a large part of their market is turning to the West.
This is also a beautiful way of getting known. Some small tea gardens are put forward by French brands, such as Nunshen, Les Jardins de Gaïa, l’Autre Thé and Terre d’Oc, because they cannot do that on their own.
For you, what is so rewarding about those trips?
Undeniably, the encounter itself. Every time, I enjoy the richness of human encounters. Being there, spending time in tea gardens, with the producers, allows me to better understand tea, from the growing to the processing. This allows to understand the constraints, the subtleties, to discover the secrets of tea trip after trip and therefore to better select them, and better explain that during trainings. The selection process makes a lot more sense.
I travel very frequently; I have already spent a lot of time in different producer countries, but I am still learning again and again.
These trips are permitting to remain humble and amazed by the richness and complexity of this beverage.
A huge thank you to AVPA for putting forward these artists of tea making J
The encounters of Carine: Yanky Factory (Darjeeling, Inde), Narming Tea Garden (Darjeeling, Inde), Alexander Kay (Satemwa, Malawi).