Taste: Fresh roses, herbal sage, and tart raspberry jam
Origin: Ilam District, Eastern Nepali Himalayas
Producer: Baraha Tea (led by Sujan Ghale)
Steep 1 1 Tbsp /2.5 g | 8 oz | 205° F | 3 min
Steep 2 8 oz | 210° F | 4.5 min
Certifications: USDA Organic
Nepali Spring Oolong is a light, floral oolong with prominent notes of rose. Reminiscent of a top-tier Darjeeling First Flush, this is our first lightly-roasted oolong. We included Nepali Spring Oolong in a previous tea subscription box and it was so well received, we added it to our permanent collection!
Tasting Notes: This tea embodies spring freshness, both bright and full of life. Floral notes of fresh rose mingle with slightly savory notes of clean sage. The tea’s thick body, which can become nearly chewy if oversteeped, has a tart raspberry jam sweetness. A smooth finish lingers indefinitely; if only spring time would do the same!
Production: This tea is harvested in the earliest part of the tea season, just as the tea plants send out their first shoots of the year. The tea leaves are chock-full of compounds to support new growth, and the tea makers expertly bring these vibrant flavors out through a shorter roast. In comparison to heavy roasted oolongs, which have more nutty and dark flavors, a short light roast preserves the floral aromas and flavors that make this tea unique.
Region: Nepal’s best-known tea growing regions are in the far eastern part of the country, bordering India and in the shadows of Mt. Everest. While tea has long been part of eastern Nepal’s past, it lacked the market access to establish its own identity. As a result, most Nepali tea has historically been sold as knock-off Darjeeling, given the two region’s nearly identical soils. The birth of an independent Nepali tea industry is being led by small-scale farmers whose families have moved fluidly throughout the region, long before Nepal and India were separate countries. As generations of community members traveled between eastern Nepal and northeastern India, many of Darjeeling’s Camellia sinensis saplings and secrets came with them. The emerging region is blending expertise with invention, and, in the process, paving a new model for tea in South Asia.
Tea Makers: Sujan Ghale was born and raised in eastern Nepal, just across the border from Darjeeling. Sujan grew up watching his parents work in the tea gardens, and followed in their direction while carving out a new role for himself: a tea maker. For more than 10 years, he’s been making tea in the Baraha Tea Factory, which has been making tea for more than 50 years.
Impact: Sujan is demonstrating that tea can be an exciting and viable career track for Nepal’s next generation. By choosing to stay in the mountains and support food systems through craft tea, he’s helping to create a smallholder farmer movement. Although he’s been in the tea industry for more than a decade, Sujan shares that he still has a long way to go in his study of tea. But Sujan seems to take the longview, calmly and methodically making each day’s tea to the best of his ability, without rush.