Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Unknown Unknowns

In 1864 Samuel Davidson of Belfast Ireland travelled to Assam in India to assist in the management of a cousin’s tea plantation. At the time, leaf tea was dried over open charcoal braziers. Davidson patented a cylindrical drying machine in 1869 and in 1877 the ‘Sirocco’ fan-assisted drying machine. Davidson returned to Belfast in 1881 and established the Sirocco Works.

Whether this particular machine, number 6973, at Jun Chiyabari in Nepal bearing his name was made in Ireland is not known. However this machine has probably served many masters before ending up in Nepal where it continues to make excellent teas. Here one of the girls of the factory collects the dried tea from the Davidson's Sirocco dryer. How old is this particular machine? 50? 80? Or even 100 years old? It is not known.

Samuel Davidson’s son, James Davidson was tragically killed on the first day of the Battle of the Somme, July 1, 1916.

Why countries and people go to war instead of resolving their disputes over a cup of tea is also not known.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Outdoor Tea Tasting

Tea tasting is usually done indoors. However on a beautiful clear spring day earlier this year we organised tea tasting outdoors in an open courtyard amidst traditional red bricked Nepali buildings. Tea taster in white shirt in the foreground is Thomas Holz from Germany.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Food, Glorious Food

Food, glorious food,
We're anxious to try it,

Three banquets a day,
Our favourite diet!

Just picture a great big steak,
Fried, roasted or stewed,
Oh! Food, wonderful food, marvellous food, glorious food
Food, Glorious Food from the musical "Oliver"

Hong Kong is definitely a paradise for food lovers.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Brewing Chinese Tea

Photographs of experts brewing tea as per Chinese tradition at a recent tea exhibition in Hong Kong. Perhaps one of them was not much of an expert.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Ichigo Ichie 一期一会

Zen concept of "Ichigo Ichie" 一期一会 is a Zen literally means One Time, One Meeting. The spirit behind it is that of transience. Any event or meeting is unique and should be revered as being once in a life time opportunity. This is often associated with tea ceremony to remind the participants that each tea event is unique. Photographs of Iwasaki san and Koike san after planting tea saplings at Jun Chiyabari. A ladybird, which is a sign of a healthy organic tea garden, celebrates this Ichigo Ichie. The inscription on Koike san's placard reads 一期一会 or Ichigo Ichie.

Monday, August 8, 2011


"A thing of beauty is a joy for ever:
Its loveliness increases; it will never
Pass into nothingness...."
John Keats (1795-1821)

Wikipedia says, "The world's richest concentration of orchid varieties is found in the Himalayan region of Nepal." I don't know how correct that is. For me what is indisputable is that beautiful flowers bring joy and happiness.

Suddenly they are gone, leaving me with bittersweet memories. But then, the sadness is my fault for as Vice Admiral Takijiro Onishi 大西 瀧治郎 (1891-1945) poignantly wrote, "...how can one expect the fragrance to last forever?"