After studying law, Mr. Delmas became fascinated with the world of tea and traveled to tea plantations in search of fresh ingredients and unique taste. His deep passion and talent are shared through thirty-two boutiques around the world, his book, Tea Drinker’s Handbook, his Tea School in Paris, and his company’s tea classes in New York. He hopes to continue sharing his love for tea with people for many more years to come.
Mood of Living Q&A
Mood of Living: Describe your occupation to us.
Francois-Xavier Delmas: I have been touring the world’s tea plantations for more than 25 years to bring the best quality teas to customers of my company, Palais des Thés. My job involves discovering unique tea cultures, forming precious, long-term relationships with our suppliers, tasting thousands of teas, and sharing the passion and the knowledge I’ve gained with others via my blog and our Tea School (Paris, New York).
MoL: What did you do before you became a tea expert?
FXD: A student! After studying law, I became fascinated by the world of tea. Together with other tea enthusiasts we decided to create a business to introduce Parisians to tea and its many flavors. We opened our first shop in Paris in 1986.
MoL: What inspired you to become a tea expert?
FXD: I was inspired by the possibilities of this marvelous beverage – the world’s most popular drink after water! When we started Palais des Thés, most people in France did not have access to high quality, let alone, rare teas. Traveling to tea gardens in Asia, I was motivated to learn as much as I could and to pass on my passion and knowledge to others.
MoL: Where did you learn your craft?
FXD: I learned “on the job,” you might say. I began my career as a tea enthusiast with a passion for learning. Visiting the world’s best tea plantations for more than two decades, I have built up precious relationships with plantation owners and workers, and as a result, I have had many professional secrets entrusted to me. Evaluating thousands of teas every year I honed my tasting skills, which we now pass on at our Tea School in Paris and New York.
MoL: Where do you look for inspiration?
FXD: In my first three years working at my tea shops in Paris, I learned a lot from customers. They have a huge interest in tea and at the same time, poor knowledge. They show you the way.
MoL: What was your “aha” moment when you realized you could really do this?
FXD: When we opened our first shop in the 6th arrondissement in Paris in 1986, and we succeeded in turning our first customers on to the wonders of tea.
Tea-making process in Nepal
MoL: Who is an influential figure in your life?
FXD: Many people have influenced me. Some of them maybe don’t know about that. They may be unknown. They may live at the end of the world, on the top of a mountain, or on a sidewalk of Calcutta. In fact, others easily leave an imprint on me.
“I don’t believe in a most important moment. I believe in each day. Each breath is important for me.”
MoL: Where do you go for peace of mind and spirit?
FXD: In France, I have two places I love. One is a very small island in Brittany where I spend holidays; the other one is an old mill near Paris where I stay as often as possible. Both places are perfect for contemplative people. Silence, wilderness, closeness to nature…these mean a lot to me. But I also have a strong passion for tea gardens in Nepal and in Darjeeling, India. Gardens in Kyoto are important to me as well.
Tea plantation in Darjeeling, India
MoL: What was the most important moment of your life?
FXD: I don’t believe in a most important moment. I believe in each day. Each breath is important for me.
MoL: What makes you laugh?
MoL: Do you have any words of wisdom?
FXD: Make your passion your work and you’ll not work a day in your life.
MoL: What advice can you give to anyone interested in starting his or her own business?
FXD: Follow your passion and share it with others.
Visit Palais des Thés website here
Photos courtesy of Francois-Xavier Delmas