Origin: Ilam, Nepal
Infusion Suggestion: 210°F, 3.5min
Certifications: USDA Organic, Rainforest Alliance Certified
Tasting Notes: Chocolate and Dark Honey
Nepali farmers make this rich black tea by incorporating the bud and first two leaves of the tea plant. The abundance of golden tips give the tea its name and unique honey-chocolate sweetness. The teas are processed in Nepal's first cooperatively run factory, Tinjure, named for the three hill communities that united to create these teas.
Taste: Nepali Golden Black surprises many tea drinkers by its elegant appearance and lightness in the cup. While rich and complex in taste, this tea does not leave one with the dry-mouth feel typical of black teas. The smoothness of this tea highlights its subtle chocolate undertones and makes it eminently drinkable. Nepali Golden Black is perfect for both hot and cold brews. A forgiving leaf, it can be made lighter or darker depending on one’s preference.
Production: Black teas go through a 4-step process to become the tea that ends up in your cup: withering, rolling, oxidizing and drying. The blackening of the tea comes when the cell wall is broken and the tea leaf is exposed to oxygen. Nepali Golden Black has an unusually high bud count and is largely unsorted, meaning most of the bud-set is still intact.
Region: Ilam is Nepal’s best-known tea growing region, opposite of Darjeeling on Nepal’s eastern border and catching views of Mt Everest hundreds of miles in the distance. While tea has long been part of Ilam’s history, Nepali tea is just beginning to gain recognition in the world market. As Darjeeling teas become increasingly difficult to obtain, Nepali teas (grown adjacent to Darjeeling) continue to gain in popularity.
Growers: The Tinjuree Cooperative is Nepal’s first cooperatively owned and operated factory. In the early 1990s, local villagers banded together and sold their harvested green leaf collectively to a nearby factory. In 2013 they raised the funds to establish their own processing facility to make tea themselves. Today the Tinjuree Cooperative is comprised of 240 members who both grow and process the tea.
Impact: By processing their own teas as a co-op, farmers at Tinjure earn 20 times more than selling the same green leaf to privately run factories. By placing the value of the finished tea back in the hands of those making it, the hope is that youth leaving rural communities for the cities may be enticed to come back and pursue economic opportunities in tea.