Do you know where your tea comes from? Who makes your tea? How often can you trace it back to a real person preparing your tea? Well, today we are going to introduce you to our amazing team who are preparing the tea that's in your cup! Next time, when you take a sip, you can get connected to the essence of where it came from and who made it!
Bimala Mukhia (left) and Twistina Subba tasting teas at Jawalakhel Tea Room.
Twistina Subba, founder, and Chairperson of Sandakphu Tea is also the wife of tea pioneer of the Modern Nepal Tea Industry, Chandra Bhushan Subba. After her marriage, she left her engineering job in India and came to join her husband in Nepal. Little did she know then, that she would be a full-fledged part of the tea industry in Nepal.
During her initial years, she worked as a teacher to enable her to give time to her son and family. Amidst that, she gradually started learning about the culture and traditions of Nepal. Coming from a matrilineal society, it was difficult for her to digest the fact that women still struggle to find their place in society, especially in the rural areas. It has been coining in her mind for a long time to do something for the upliftment of women particularly in the rural area where male dominance is prevalent. She wanted to do something to promote women, especially in the field of finance. She believes that financial independence in women is the core to giving them a better place in society starting from the family itself.
Eventually, the thought of tea struck her mind and that’s when she shared her idea with her husband. Therefore, with the expertise of her husband, she initiated the idea of producing tea in the remote village of Jasbire. One of the primary ethics was to give women a fair chance in the workplace. In a country where female workers are still seen as inferior, attempts to promote women, to positions of authority have been a major challenge. But she along with her husband managed to get their vision across this local community and the factory is now run by women under the guidance of an expert.
This is a real achievement for all involved. The aim is to employ more women at all levels and ensure that they can hold positions of authority, where relevant. All field-based finance is controlled by women and the teas are made by a woman technical hand with the support of male machinery experts. Her leadership has enabled the local villagers to profit from their freshly harvested green leaves.
Twistina Subba(left), Chandra Bhushan Subba (center) & Bimala Mukhia (right) tasting teas at Jawalakhel Tea Room.
Bimala Mukhia, a native of Jasbire village, is a single mother. She got married at an early age of 18 years and a few years later her husband left her with a 4-year-old daughter. Being in a small village, was not easy for her. She had to struggle both physically and financially to raise and educate her daughter She did get some help from her parents physically but since her daughter was growing she needed money to educate her daughter. That was when Sandakphu offered her a job to assist the then Tea maker and manager. She was then able to send her daughter to a boarding school in Ilam.
Being a woman, she faced many challenges in the workplace and had to leave the job for about a year due to the prevalent male dominance. But Sandakphu stuck to the norms of its vision of giving women a fair chance and had to make a harsh decision to keep her rather than a male tea maker. That was how she got the opportunity to work independently.
She has been working in Sandakphu since its establishment in 2011. Over the years, she has acquired the knowledge and skills of tea making under the tutelage of our expert, Chandra Bhushan Subba. She is one of the few if not only, female tea makers in Nepal. She is skilled in making various types of teas and is involved in the management of the factory and the produce. She is well versed with the staff and the local farmers in the tea-making process. Bimala is leading the change by heading the tea factory by actively getting involved with the farmers’ community. All field-based finance is handled by her under the supervision of Twistina, the chairperson and the head of Finance.