Origin: Ilam, Nepal
Infusion Suggestion: 180°F, 2.5min
Certifications: USDA Organic, Rainforest Alliance Certified
Tasting Notes: Grassy and Smoky
Nepali Green Pearl: A sweet vegetal and smoky Himalayan green tea carefully plucked and twirled into thin wires.
Production: Green teas are typically made just before the onset of the monsoons. Farmers pluck the entire bud-set (two leaves and a bud) and bring it to the factory to wither before being rolled to break the cell wall and begin oxidation. The leaves are quickly transferred to a rolling machine that gently tosses the tea until the bud-sets are rolled into tight balls.
Region: Ilam is Nepal’s best-known tea growing region, opposite of Darjeeling on Nepal’s eastern border catching views of Mt Everest hundreds of miles in the distance. While tea has long been part of Ilam’s history, its teas were not sold as “Nepali” tea, but rather disguised as “Darjeeling” since they are such similar soils and growing conditions. As Darjeeling teas become increasingly difficult to obtain, Ilam teas will be integral in the world tea market.
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 produce finished tea enabling them to sell directly to foreign companies. Today the Tinjuree Cooperative is comprised of 240 members who both grow and process the tea.
Impact: Cooperatively run factories represent a transformative development for the tea industry. By processing their own teas, rural communities earn 20 times more than selling the same green leaf to privately run factories. This dignifies the work of producing quality tea, thereby addressing one of the fundamental challenges to the tea industry – labor shortages caused by urban migration. Community ownership of tea production brings voice and value back to marginalized communities.