More In This Issue
Nepal’s altitude, seasonality, soil, and various microclimates combine to establish a terroir that is remarkably well suited to tea. The country's finest teas are an expression of the tea maker’s art, inspired by the demand for delicate whites, oolongs, and airy black teas sold directly to wholesalers with a growing customer base in Europe, Asia, and North America.
To get his fill of the best quality fresh tea leaves, Sharad Subba partners with 80 farmers in the neighborhood. This is one of the many ways Jasbire Tea Processing Center keeps the manufacturing of tea communal and delivers one of the finest teas in Nepal. The quality tea made in Subba's factory is consistent, distinctive and truly representactive of Jasbire.
Nepal's eastern tea-growing region leads the country's tea trade, but the landscape is changing as rural entrepreneurs expand the tea terroir. Upcoming tea brands are establishing Nepal Tea as a global brand offering premium differentiated products with a compelling story that is authentic and modern.
The Barbote tea farm is nestled in the steep hills of Ilam, Nepal. It was planted by Narendra Kumar Gurung's grandfather and tended by his father. Narendra spent most of his working years with the Japan International Cooperation Agency. Like most of Nepal’s new-generation farmers, specialty tea is a new endeavor built on a century-old foundation of commodity production.
A lack of infrastructure, a lack of capital, natural disasters, a pandemic, and a very tough competitor at the border – these are the challenges faced by Nepal growers.
Long before marketers labeled it organic, Nepal tea was grown with care. It was always the province of smallholders clinging to the mountain side like the trees they nurtured.
The pandemic was the worst thing to happen to Nepal's Kanchanjangha Tea Estate, but there is a silver lining. It radically changed how we work, says Nishchal Banskota, who manages operations via Zoom calls between Long Island, New York, and his family's tea estate. It’s early morning for me and the end of the day for him, but after nine months, he says, "I have more confidence that I can manage a farm remotely."
Smallholders are the backbone of the tea industry, especially in underdeveloped Nepal. Here’s the story of one Nepali smallholder: a widowed grandmother who has spent a lifetime in tea, nature, faith and family.