My leap into the tea world

I was born on International tea day. I was born to the culture of tea as well as the business of the tea industry and yet growing up I never thought I would be involved in the tea industry. I came to the USA in 2014 to get a bachelor’s degree in Finance. I started working for a commercial bank in my sophomore year and had a job lined up even before graduation. I always dreamt about working for a corporate bank, wearing a suit and tie to work, and making the big bucks. Slowly but surely my dream came true. 

I don’t know if age and maturity come into play in your mid-twenties, but four years into the corporate world, I was ready to quit. Yes, I was making a decent amount of money, was having good career growth, however, I never had the satisfaction in my heart. What was I missing? 

Pratik Rijal on his graduation day with friends

I was born into a family of entrepreneurs. My grandfather put all his life into tea. His mornings often involved long tea-related phone calls while slurping on several cups of tea. His passion for tea always amazed me and although I didn’t know back then that tea was going to change my life, I did know that I wanted to be an entrepreneur like him. I wanted to do everything -start a restaurant, immersive tourism. I had plans to go back to Nepal right after graduation and replicate B’dubs- a casual sports dining franchise, with friends. But leaving a life of security was a bit more difficult than I thought. My friend however did go on to start the wings joint in Nepal. You should definitely go check out,  The Wing’s Factory Nepal, while you’re in the country.

While I was struggling to start something of my own, Nish- another family member with an entrepreneurial spirit, was launching Nepal Tea in 2015. Nish brought his first batch of teas from Nepal to the USA. I used to help him with packaging during my days off. I was impressed and inspired by his vision of creating a positive impact in the community from a single plant-Camellia Sinensis.

Pratik and Nish at Tea fairs representing Nepal Tea

Although not actively involved, I would lend a hand to Nish especially during tea fairs. When people visited our booth, I would share stories about my family and the tea business over whatever we were brewing for the day. All of this felt natural. 

During my interviews, I would be asked why I was applying for an analyst role when they could clearly see that I had a sales personality.  Little did they know that I would soon be selling products that I truly believed could change a small world.  I remember the work not feeling like work despite the long hours and uncertainty of closing a deal during the tea fairs. With Nepal Tea, I knew the community the company was working for. I could see the number of people Nepal Tea was helping grow every day. 

The dissatisfaction of a monotonous job finally pushed me out of my comfort zone just as Nish was looking to hire someone for Nepal Tea. After our initial conversation, we took things on a trial basis to see if we worked well together. I created newsletters and managed social media for Nepal Tea. I enjoyed being part of the tea community even though it was essentially extra work to my boring 9 to 5. 

But just when I was deciding to resign, my manager offered a generous promotion, one that I could not say no to. And just like that everything would go back to square one. After countless sleepless nights, I finally took the leap of faith and haven’t looked back since.

Pratik Rijal with family after joining Nepal Tea full time

When my grandfather heard this news, he said the same thing that he tells everyone from our family who joins the tea industry. It is very easy to get into the tea business, but very difficult to get out of it. Every day as a part of the Nepal Tea team, I realize the difficulty lies in the fact that one doesn’t really want an out of the tea world, especially if it's someone like me whose fate seemed to have been attached to tea from day 1.