Nepalese teas are hard to come by and yet to be discovered by connoisseurs in the West, according to Canadian based tea merchants Tealyra. Tealyra’s website offers two Nepalese orthodox teas: Chabessey Hand Rolled Nepal Black (NZ $9.17 for 50 grams) and Antu Valley Nepal 1st Flush. The former is described as a ‘complex, full-bodied, dark cup similar to Darjeeling’ and the latter, a ‘fine black tea with notes of dark cherry, grass, wood and citrus.’ In comparison, a Darjeeling at Tealyra sells for NZ $13.33 for only 25 grams.
In 2014 Nepali Tea Traders (Colarado, USA) earned 3rd place in the North American Tea Championships. In 2015 their Himalayan Golden Black Tea was selected best black tea, being described as mild, yet flavourful, with a balance of stone fruit and honey. Other Nepalese teas are described as malty and nutty.
Nepali Tea Traders teas are grown on the slopes of Sandakphu, which borders Darjeeling, renowned for its remarkable teas. The cool climate and high elevation slow the maturation of the leaf – thus producing the sought after complex flavours. I love the names given Nepali Tea Traders teas: Everest Earl Grey; Shangri-La; Sherpa Breakfast.
The problem is that Nepalese tea can be bought at low prices, auctioned in Calcutta and sold as Darjeeling for much higher prices. This practise cheats Nepalese tea growers, whose teas should be regarded in their own right, while it also cheats consumers of Darjeeling tea, since they are not receiving the pure product they pay for. It is estimated that three times the amount of Darjeeling is sold than the gardens can actually produce!
Nepalese tea gardens have remained small holder tea farms, some use organic methods and most are privately owned today.
New Zealand has a special fondness for Nepal because a New Zealander, Sir Edmond Hillary, was one of two men who first scaled the summit of Mount Everest. Hillary was accompanied by Tenzing Norgay, a Nepalese Sherpa. Later Sir Edmond helped to build schools and hospitals in Nepal and eventually became New Zealand’s High Commissioner to India. He is also pictured on New Zealand’s five dollar note and became one of our most loved personalities.
*All images are courtesy of Pixabay*