The co-operative is named “Teenjure” which is Nepali for “three hills.” Local villagers from the three hills banded together to first form a growing co-operative, selling their harvested green leaf to a nearby factory. Then in 2013, they raised the money on their own to setup their own factory, allowing them to have a finished tea they could market internationally. This is a significant development for the tea industry, as having local farmer’s owning the finished tea dramatically alters the supply chain. Traditionally, farmers could, at best, sell the harvested tea leaf; now they have a finished good at hand.
We literally stumbled into their work — during our first Nepal visit in 2016, we stayed at a random hotel in the town of Ilam, which we chose mainly because it was the only one open with clean beds. The next morning, we woke to find we were directly across from a sign that said “Nepal’s First Tea Cooperative.” Excited to learn more, we went across the street and met them. From there, they took us to their factory, which involved a two hour hike down an unpaved trail, surrounded by the towering Himalayas.