Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Bolaven Adventure

We plucked raw coffee beans off the plants and nibbled at them; most were fairly bitter. We were on the Bolaven Plateau in southern Laos which rises high enough (to 700m) and is cool enough for numerous coffee plantations as well as tea. In November and December the plateau is covered in a carpet of wild yellow sunflowers. The landscape is cut through with numerous tumbling waterfalls; one of the most striking is Tad Yeung, a double column of falling water.
Coffee was introduced by the French and then reintroduced by the Vietnamese in 1923 and passed numerous cooperatives that process the beans before export to France.
We also stopped at a family run tea plantation. The same family had been growing organic tea — oolong, green and sometimes white — using the same plants that had been flourishing since 1975. Here the tea is suffused by the flavour of jasmine and gardenia flower.

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