Bois Chéri was the first tea producer in Mauritius. The tour includes a visit to the factory, plantation and museum. It is better to go early in the morning since it rains a lot on the island.
Bois Chéri is open from Monday to Saturday but is only operational on Wednesdays and Thursdays. In total they have about 250 hectares that are located 12 kilometers north of Rivière des Anguilles.
The best part of the tour is the end when you go to a chalet that over looks a lake. We tried to walk there but it is far away and we had to return to get our car.
This place is a gourmet restaurant that uses local ingredients. When we went it was full so we could only sit in the tasting section. They brought us a variety of teas that included green, herbs and flavors.
We ordered a creme brulee that we ate with the help of a little bird.
If you want to spend the night, they have a very unique accommodation in bubbles called Bubble Lodge Bois Chéri.
The tea museum of Bois Chéri tells you the history of tea. Originally, tea comes from the province of Assam in the north of India. It was spread through Mongolia to China. It was the Chinese who recognized the value of tea and began to use it as medicine as early as 2,700 BC. Since the 6th century AD the drink was commercialized in China and Japan. Legends tell that in 1820 they used monkeys in China to grab tea leaves that grew in inaccessible places.
A thousand years later it arrived to Europe, first to Holland by the Dutch East India Company, then to France and England. When the company lost its monopoly on Chinese commerce in 1833, the first steps were taken to develop the tea business in India. Its development was rapid and to this day they produce half of world exports. They also serve to supply seeds to other large producers such as Ceylon, Java, Sumatra and Kenya.
Plantation of Bois Chéri
In 1765 Father René François returned to Mauritius from China. In his suitcase he had tea plants that he gave to Pierre Poivre who planted the first plantations of Bois Chéri in 1892. Tea grows on humid plateaus and only three tender leaves are harvested. The plantation uses mechanized and manual harvest, where they collect up to 50 kilos of leaves per day in the summer.
The bags arrive at the factory where they are manually emptied and put in containers to wilt. In the first 24 hours, the leaves will lose water through ventilation and their weight will drop by 1/3.
The leaves are then cut using two series of rotating blades. The color, smell and taste change when the cut leaves are exposed to the air. This takes about an hour and a half. The tea is dried in an oven at 110 ° C for 10 minutes to lose its moisture. All fibers are extracted with static electricity using a wool belt and lamps. The tea is sorted using meshes of different sizes. To mature it they keep it in silos for at least three months. Some of the Bois Chéri tea has flavors that are mixed after being cured.