The Other Himalayan Tea
Nepal makes ‘orthodox’ tea just like neighbour Darjeeling (‘DJ’) does. Pluck the top 2 leaves and a bud and collect a basketfull, then the same processing steps of withering, rolling, fermenting (oxidization), or not, and drying or firing. Most varietals in Nepal are DJ clones. DJ currently produces about 8 million kilos and Nepal about 5 million kilos.
However, Nepal’s orthodox tea growers are 85% small holders, compared to DJ where the the Indian Plantations Labour Act of 1951 governs the making of tea and other crops. There are approx. 27,000 such small holding farmers in Nepal compared to approx. 55,000 employees doing the labour in Darjeeling . Nepal has about 70 processing factories, some with their own gardens, some that buy green leaf from farmers. There is a robust growth in the importation of Chinese smaller batch processing equipment and methods.
There is a lot to explore.
5 billion kilos of tea of every sort are manufactured every year in this world so DJ and Nepal production combined are no more than .0026 %, or ~1 in 400 kilos.
Next post – organics in the region.
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About Darjeeling tea and the region.