Your intrepid L’Espalier Tea Sommelier has just returned from an extra-ordinary trip to Nepal. If you have been in to join us for tea within the last couple of months, you may have already enjoyed an exceptional tea from the Kuwapani Estate in Nepal. I’m hoping that many of you can join us in the very near future to experience some breathtakingly fresh teas from Nepal that were still on the bush last week! There is so much that I’d love to share with all of you, so I’m breaking it up into multiple blog entries, with this being the first of several to come.
Nepal is an incredibly beautiful country, with wonderful teas that are unfortunately practically unheard of in the west. Part of the problem is that Nepal is landlocked, without the readily available ports found in China to the north and India to the south. In fact, a significant amount of Nepali tea leaves are routed through Darjeeling and then sold as Darjeeling tea, with very little of the money going to the Nepali farmers. Overtime, I hope that these very special teas will be appreciated here in the US so that the Nepali farmers will be able to sell their finest harvests directly to US importers.
I was fortunate to be invited to be part of a delegation from the US Tea Association in affiliation with USAid. We were traveling as a group of 9, with 6 of us being American, 1 Bengali, 1 from Holland and 1 from Denmark. The timing of our trip was non-ideal as the country is in a bit of turmoil over the finalization of their constitution. This resulted in our having an armed military/police escort at all times that we were traveling outside of Kathmandu, which was the majority of the trip. Depending on the determined risk within each area that we traveled, our escort varied between 4 and roughly 20 soldiers. All of whom where friendly yet professional at all times.
After being shown some of the local historic, architectural and religious treasures in and around Kathmandu the first day, we headed up and out to the mountains and the tea!! In addition to tea growth and production, which is always fascinating for me, I was particularly pleased to see an example of the local vermiculture, where live earthworms and a form of composting are used to produced a fully organic fertilizer which is used twice a year on the organic tea growth. Embracing organics is just a part of the Nepali ‘Code of Conduct’, an extraordinary set of self imposed rules followed within Nepal to embrace sustainability as well as improve the lives of the workers. In my next blog I’ll go into details on this exemplary practice.
For now, enjoy a good cuppa, hopefully of Nepali tea. I hope I will see many of you over the next few weeks to enjoy some hand-couriered incredibly fresh tea! Namaste!!