The buzz these days seems to be about tea from Nepal. You know, that little country spread across the Himalayas just north of the Bihar state in India which is becoming more of a contender in tea production, too. I thought, therefore, the time had come to take a closer look.
Key Gardens and Producers
The Ilam district boasts two main tea gardens: the Ilam Tea Garden near the Ilam Bazaar, and the Kanyam Tea Garden, halfway between Ilam Bazaar and the plains of the Terai. There are smaller gardens such as Tinjure. Other major tea producing districts are Dhankuta, Sankuwashabha, Terathum, and Bhojpur districts.
The Himalayan Tea Producers Cooperative Ltd. (HIMCOOP)
Like growers elsewhere, the tea farmers and producers in Nepal recognize there is strength in numbers. The Himalayan Tea Producers Cooperative Ltd. (HIMCOOP) was established in 2003 and provides these tea producers who focus on more high-quality teas a common platform for selling to an international market. They currently represent 20 different factories and estates that produce a variety of teas (white, green, black, and oolong).
Jun Chiyabari Tea Garden, established around 2000-2001, is located in the hills around Hile in Dhankuta district in the eastern Himalayan region of Nepal. It is at an elevation of about 1600-2000 meters. Like many of the gardens in Nepal, this one is relatively small (about 75 hectares, with 50 hectares planted in tea). The plants are young compared to those in Darjeeling and China and are cultivars from not only Nepal but Darjeeling, Taiwan, and Japan.
Mist Valley Tea, founded by the late Asal Bahadur Limbu, is in Jitpur in eastern Nepal. The small rural village is frequently enveloped by mist and fog, giving it the nickname used for the company. The garden is known as one of the best manicured around and has a factory for processing and packaging the teas (currently about 100,000 kgs per year of premium tea). Other tea gardeners also bring their leaves to the factory for processing.
Some Quick Facts About Nepali Teas
Here’s a quick rundown:
- Two general categories: orthodox and CTC
- Four flushes: 1st (4th week of March thru end of April); 2nd (2nd week of May thru end of July); Monsoon (last week of July thru September); and Autumn (October thru November).
- While flavors of the the flushes for orthodox teas varies, the CTC teas are fairly consistent in their flavors.
- Flavors between Darjeeling and Nepalese teas are almost indistinguishable, as hubby and I discovered recently.
Give them a try some time and see for yourself.
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