Our introduction to the Tinjure Co-operative was a happy accident. While visiting the Makaibari Estate in Darjeeling, Raj mentioned to our friend Passang, who has Nepali roots, that we were looking for examples of community-centric tea production in nearby Nepal. Passang told us to come back in a month and in the mean time he’d ask around. On our first morning in Nepal, we woke to Passang banging on the door and ordering “Come out, we’ve found it!” And he was right – we had ended up staying in a hotel that was directly across the street from a store front whose sign read “Tinjure: Nepal’s First Tea Co-operative.” Cautiously optimistic, we said good morning to the person running the booth, explained who we were, and asked to try the teas.
We scrapped all the plans we had for the next few days and went to check out the factory. There we learned that Tinjure meant “Three Hills” because three villages on three connected hills had banded together to start growing tea collectively. Initially they sold their harvest to a private factory, and then one day decided to start saving towards setting up their own factory.
They realized that by processing their own teas, they could earn 40 times more than selling the same green leaf to private factories. By having a finished tea in-hand, they also were in a fundamentally different position in the supply chain – they could directly interact with buyers like us.
Perhaps most importantly, though, the next generation had a reason to enter the tea profession. With the opportunity to actually own the tea they made, they could see the benefits of their work. And we were thrilled to meet several young people excited to be lifting their community through their work in tea.
And on top of all that, Tinjure produces all of its tea organically. We’re helping them with getting certified organic and their teas have passed clinical testing here in the US.
So get ready to raise a cup to a brighter future for us all!