• Nepal Map

    The tea estates in the eastern region of Nepal are nestled amongst tall, rolling Himalayan foothills. Only 65 kilometers separate the Jun Chiyabari tea garden in Hile, Nepal from the Darjeeling and Sikkim tea growing regions in India. Straddling the border between India and the Dhankuta region of Nepal is the mighty Kangchenjunga mountain, third highest in the world at over 28,000 feet in elevation. The teas gardens of Nepal, like those in Darjeeling, are planted on steep hillsides at high elevations.

    Check out our current Nepal tea selections:
    Himalayan First Flush
    Himalayan Second Flush
  • Nepal Airport Security

    With an eastward bearing out of Kathmandu, we're eager to take off for the tea mountains of Hile. But first we must pass through the rather rustic airport security.

    Check out our current Nepal tea selections:
    Himalayan First Flush
    Himalayan Second Flush
  • Yeti Airlines

    In the Himalayas, we fly none other than Yeti Airlines. The short flight will drop us off in the mountainous Hile region.

    Check out our current Nepal tea selections:
    Himalayan First Flush
    Himalayan Second Flush
  • A warming cup of chai at this roadside shop

    Making our way up winding switchback roads to the tea gardens, we enjoy a moment to catch our breath in the crisp mountain air. A warming cup of chai at this roadside shop sets us back on course.

    Check out our current Nepal tea selections:
    Himalayan First Flush
    Himalayan Second Flush
  • atop the tea mountains of Jun Chiyabari estate in Hile, Nepal

    At last, we arrive atop the tea mountains of Jun Chiyabari estate in Hile, Nepal. Billows of clouds and mist roll across the hills, providing a cool, shady environment for the tea plants.

    Check out our current Nepal tea selections:
    Himalayan First Flush
    Himalayan Second Flush
  • many smallholder gardens in Jun Chiyabari

    Jun Chiyabari artisans process tea grown by the many smallholder gardens seen here, scattered across hectares of tea hills. Notice how the gardens are interspersed with virgin forest in a biodiverse environment that enhances soil quality and prevents erosion.

    Check out our current Nepal tea selections:
    Himalayan First Flush
    Himalayan Second Flush
  • Walking among the tea gardens

    Walking among the tea gardens, mists enshroud the tea bushes, bamboos, and other trees. The cloudy, shady climate encourages the plants to produce extra chlorophyll and plant nutrients in the effort to photosynthesize and grow.

    Check out our current Nepal tea selections:
    Himalayan First Flush
    Himalayan Second Flush
  • organic cultivation status

    Many tea growers here are in the process of converting to their holdings to organic cultivation status. Their plan is to attain certification in the next several years according to major protocols such as USDA-NOP, EU, and JAS. Ladybugs react strongly to chemical fertilizers and pesticides, so the many ladybugs seen in the Jun Chiyabari gardens are a sign that the conversion process is well underway.

    Check out our current Nepal tea selections:
    Himalayan First Flush
    Himalayan Second Flush
  • biodynamic farming

    The tea cultivation experts in the Jun Chiyabari estate draw inspiration from the principles of biodynamic farming, including mulching and natural composting. Here, the soil is full of life.

    Check out our current Nepal tea selections:
    Himalayan First Flush
    Himalayan Second Flush
  • young tea gardens

    Clouds and mists billow around us as we stand in these young tea gardens, planted on steep hillsides. We're excited to see the preservation of other plants like lemongrass along the edges of the road and tall, bending bamboos in the background. Organic mountain ginger flourishes along the winding switchback roads linking the smallholder gardens.

    Check out our current Nepal tea selections:
    Himalayan First Flush
    Himalayan Second Flush
  • fresh leaf from the smallholders to the factory for expert processing

    Each smallholder garden is characterized by a unique micro-climate. Based on years of experience in those special environments, the skilled owner-managers determine when to harvest their tealeaves each season. Jun Chiyabari provides trucks and the pickup of fresh leaf from the smallholders to the factory for expert processing.

    Check out our current Nepal tea selections:
    Himalayan First Flush
    Himalayan Second Flush
  • Withering process for the second flush muscatel black tea

    For many teas, like this Second Flush Muscatel black tea, the first step in processing leaves at the factory is withering. Fresh tealeaves are spread out on long tables, where just the right amount of cool air can circulate below and above the tealeaves as their water content depletes.

    Check out our current Nepal tea selections:
    Himalayan First Flush
    Himalayan Second Flush
  • Monitoring the withering process

    The withering process is carefully monitored. When the tealeaves look, feel, and smell the right way, they are removed from the withering tables.

    Check out our current Nepal tea selections:
    Himalayan First Flush
    Himalayan Second Flush
  • Withered tealeaves before the rolling process

    A closer look at the withered tealeaves and buds, just before collection into the rolling process. Notice that the tealeaves begin to "sweat". At this point, they emit an apple-like, fruity fragrance. This is a key indicator that the tea is just about ready for further processing.

    Check out our current Nepal tea selections:
    Himalayan First Flush
    Himalayan Second Flush
  • pile the tealeaves carefully to generate some warmth within the pile

    The foreman of the processing facility has determined that the withered tealeaves became slightly too crisp during their withering, so deft workers pile the tealeaves carefully to generate some warmth within the pile that will soften the tealeaves before they are rolled and oxidized.

    Check out our current Nepal tea selections:
    Himalayan First Flush
    Himalayan Second Flush
  • vintage rolling machine

    The withered and softened tealeaves are sent down to this vintage rolling machine. Check out the old-school hand crank. This roller is a far cry from the completely mechanized processing of other large-scale black tea regions.

    Check out our current Nepal tea selections:
    Himalayan First Flush
    Himalayan Second Flush
  • advantage of this retro rolling machine

    One advantage of this retro rolling machine is the square pit in the center. As the tealeaves are rolled across the copper plate, they are bruised against the raised edge of this square. Recall that the purpose of rolling tealeaves is to break down the plant cell walls within the tealeaves, mixing the oxidizing enzymes with tea polyphenols to develop flavors and aromas. The pit in the center of the tealeaves might also help prevent overheating the tealeaves underneath the roller.

    Check out our current Nepal tea selections:
    Himalayan First Flush
    Himalayan Second Flush
  • oxidation process

    After the leaves are bruised and rolled, they are spread on tables and piled to oxidize. Depending on prevailing weather conditions, indoor humidity, and indoor temperature, the factory foreman may decide to cover them here for a touch of extra insulation and warmth. Each lot requires close attention to detail, and years of experience to know just how to process.

    Check out our current Nepal tea selections:
    Himalayan First Flush
    Himalayan Second Flush
  • monitoring oxidation process

    The oxidation process is closely monitored. Here, the factory foreman shows tea buyer Joshua Kaiser of Rishi Tea how to check the internal temperature of the pile to determine when to rotate the pile or remove it when oxidation has reached its optimal level. The room is fragrant with the aromas of oxidizing enzymes and polyphenols in the tealeaves. Certain aromas emerge in "peaks," signaling the degree of oxidation reached in the tealeaves.

    Check out our current Nepal tea selections:
    Himalayan First Flush
    Himalayan Second Flush
  • Firing stage

    The foreman has decided that the tealeaves have reached optimal oxidation, and are ready to be "fired" to denature the oxidizing enzyme and halt the oxidation process.

    Check out our current Nepal tea selections:
    Himalayan First Flush
    Himalayan Second Flush
  • lightly roast second flush tea before the first stage of firing

    For the first stage of firing this specific Second Flush tea in Nepal, the tealeaves are lightly roasted to arrest the oxidation and fix the unique muscatel character. Not all black teas require the initial firing seen here.

    Check out our current Nepal tea selections:
    Himalayan First Flush
    Himalayan Second Flush
  • final deep firing

    For the final deep firing, the tealeaves are brought to this vintage conveyer drying oven.

    Check out our current Nepal tea selections:
    Himalayan First Flush
    Himalayan Second Flush
  • Jun Chiyabari mandates equal pay regardless of gender

    An especially unique and positive aspect of Jun Chiyabari estate is that it employs women not only for plucking tea, but also in managerial roles during the processing. Jun Chiyabari mandates equal pay regardless of gender, empowering women in a way uncommon to this part of the world.

    Check out our current Nepal tea selections:
    Himalayan First Flush
    Himalayan Second Flush
  • Evaluate dozens of lot samples of Nepal teas in the Tasting Room

    Rishi Tea taster and buyer Joshua Kaiser, thrilled to spend a day in the Tasting Room to evaluate dozens of lot samples of Nepal tea.

    Check out our current Nepal tea selections:
    Himalayan First Flush
    Himalayan Second Flush
  • Evaluating each lot of tea using the standard cupping technique

    Evaluating each lot of tea using the standard cupping technique. Many attributes of the tea are considered, including the dry leaf size and grade, hot aroma within the cupping sets, and taste elements of the brewed liquor. Buyers like Rishi Tea founder Joshua Kaiser develop tasting skills over years to be able to detect defects during the tasting process and to be able to taste in a variety of conditions (inconsistent water supply is huge).

    Check out our current Nepal tea selections:
    Himalayan First Flush
    Himalayan Second Flush
  • professionals slurping technique

    When tasting each tea, professionals slurp the tea vigorously in the mouth to oxygenate the liquor and release volatile aromas that are detected by retronasal aroma sensors in the soft palate of the mouth.

    Check out our current Nepal tea selections:
    Himalayan First Flush
    Himalayan Second Flush
  • Kathmandu

    An important part of any Rishi Tea journey is to study and engage with the communities who grow the world's best teas. So after a successful trip to Hile tea mountains, we stop back in Kathmandu and learn about the local architecture and culture.

    Check out our current Nepal tea selections:
    Himalayan First Flush
    Himalayan Second Flush
  • The powerful Hindu goddess Kali the Destroyer

    The powerful Hindu goddess Kali the Destroyer is depicted on the wall of this old, historic palace.

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    Himalayan First Flush
    Himalayan Second Flush
  • Watch out for sly monkeys!

    Watch out for sly monkeys! This wily fellow tracks tourists, pickpocketing purses and bags for snacks.

    Check out our current Nepal tea selections:
    Himalayan First Flush
    Himalayan Second Flush
  • centuries-old architechture of the Durbar Square in Kathmandu

    The centuries-old architechture of the Durbar Square in Kathmandu still serves as a town hangout today.

    Check out our current Nepal tea selections:
    Himalayan First Flush
    Himalayan Second Flush
  • ascetic monks

    The Sadhu of Nepal are ascetic monks who strive for moksa, or "liberation" through numerous forms of ritual practice, meditation, chanting, and fasting.

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    Himalayan First Flush
    Himalayan Second Flush
  • Swayambhunath stupa

    The Swayambhunath stupa, located just west of Kathmandu city. The eyes of Buddha gaze in all directions from this religious center situated atop a hill in Kathmandu valley. Today the center attracts students of Buddhism, tourists, and tea tasters alike.

    Check out our current Nepal tea selections:
    Himalayan First Flush
    Himalayan Second Flush

In this travelogue, follow the Rishi Tea buying team to the tea gardens and cultural sites of Nepal, a landlocked nation in the Himalaya Mountain Range. In 2001, the Jun Chiyabari tea garden was established in the eastern Himalaya region of Nepal, set 1400-1800 meters above sea level in the hills surrounding the town of Hile in Dhankuta district. This emerging tea growing area is 200km east of Nepal's capital, Kathmandu, and just 65km west of the Darjeeling and Sikkim tea regions of India.

The Jun Chiyabari Estate is home to some of the most exquisite teas in Nepal and is under the management of a true tea artisan with more than 25 years of tea making experience. The teas of the Jun Chiyabari Estate range in variety from classic Himalayan black and green teas to innovative styles of oolong and white tea. The teas grown here have some of the most profound and elegant aromas in the Himalaya tea region, including Darjeeling, and the quality of Nepal tea is improving year after year through the positive relationships and open communication between smallholder tea cultivators and the tea factory. Jun Chiyabari Tea Estate is one of the favorite emerging tea projects of Rishi Tea's founder and tea buyer, Joshua Kaiser. After many years of tasting micro-lots of tea and discussing Rishi Tea standards with Jun Chiyabari Estate, we are proud to offer a taste of Nepal tea, with interesting teas each year by the artisans at Jun Chiyabari.

A very positive aspect of Jun Chiyabari Tea Garden is that it employs women in ways uncommon to this part of the world. This estate has taken steps to empower women by putting them into supervisory positions and mandating equal pay between male and female colleagues. You can read more at the Nepali Times.

Nepal Himalaya Mountain Tea

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