After 32 hours of flying, we finally arrived at the airport in Kathmandu, Nepal with adrenaline and exhaustion pumping through our veins. We felt as if we could sleep for days, and also take on the world! Kathmandu, Nepal’s capital, is practically on the other side of the world from our home in Boston, making the time difference a whopping twelve hours. But, we pushed through the haze of jetlag and quickly prepared ourselves to continue traveling to the town of Ilam. We had another four and a half hours of travel ahead of us (two hours of flying, and two and a half hours on a bus) before we finally arrived at our destination.
Ilam is where most of the tea for Nepali Tea Traders is grown and harvested. It is located about 700 kilometers (430 miles) East of Kathmandu, in what is called the Eastern Development Region of Nepal. It has lush green hills as far as the eye can see, and is known for its diverse agricultural economy, with tea being a major contributor. This region of Nepal has freezing cold Winters and has a Monsoon season in place of Summer with warm, foggy, and rainy weather. We took the photo below as we arrived at the tea gardens in Ilam, which sit at an elevation of about 6000 ft. The view was truly magical!
As we got close to the tea gardens, we noticed how we could almost taste how fresh and clean the air was. This natural and secluded location was hugely different from what we experience in our city lives. We watched as the workers plucked tea leaves, talking as they worked. They made it look so simple, but when we joined in on the picking we quickly realized that the job was actually quite complicated. We quickly gained an appreciation for how skilled these farmers were.
One of the women on the farm kept putting her hands together and saying Namaste to us. We understood that in Nepal, the word Namaste is used to say thank you. But, we didn’t quite understand why she would be so thankful to us. We didn’t feel like we were being very helpful when we were surrounded by farmers who could pick tea so much faster than us! We asked her why she kept thanking us, and she told us that she was so grateful that we bought their tea leaves because we allowed her to be able to pay to send her daughter and son to school. At that moment, we could feel how Nepali Tea Traders is more than just a tea business. Hearing this woman’s story confirmed to us the importance of our mission of paying fair wages to the farmers.
Nepali Tea Traders staff working among the professional tea farmers.
After our tour of the tea gardens, we were off to the factory where the tea leaves are processed. This is where the leaves from fresh off of the plant become the form that you can find in your Nepali Tea Traders tea! As we walked into the factory, we were greeted with the bright smiles of the workers. Everyone seemed so proud of the work that they were doing. Each worker is an integral part of producing tea of the highest quality and consistency.
We were able to taste five of the first flush teas. Each one was distinct, but they all tasted so fresh and pure. Tea is more than just a drink in Nepal, it is a ritual. Being able to share a moment and a cup of tea with the workers who produce it made us feel even more connected to our product. We hope that all of you will share a cup of tea with the people that you love!
Meet the incredible people who create your cup of tea!
Want to learn more? Check out these links!
http://theteastylist.com/about-linda-gaylard/ -Linda Gaylard won a World Tea Award for this book. It is a great book for people who want to start to learn about tea or those who want to deepen their knowledge!
Did you know? All tea comes from one plant: Camellia sinensis. The different varieties of tea come from different methods of processing!