Do you know where your tea comes from?
In 2019 alone, the USA imported $488.4 million worth of tea. Not only is that more than tea-addicted Britain – it's more than any other country in the world.
But where does all that tea come from?
It's hard to find information about how tea is grown, harvested and processed. For ethically minded consumers, this is worrying. And while it's true transparency has improved in recent years – we commend Unilever for publishing their full list of suppliers – there's still a long way to go.
The tea supply chain is far more complex than it needs to be. Did you know that tea changes hands at least five times before it reaches the consumer? Different companies play different roles. One company grows the tea. Another one blends it. A third one packages it. And so on.
It's not surprising that consumers have questions. Questions like:
- Are pesticides used?
- Is the climate being looked after?
- Are workers treated well?
Here at Nepal Tea, we completely understand. That's why our business is built around:
- Bringing high-quality, organic tea to US consumers in as few steps as possible
- Securing fair wages and happy lives for our workers
- Guaranteeing sustainability with chemical-free, climate-friendly farming methods
All of our tea is produced and packed in Nepal, and never opened until it reaches you. Because it's packed at origin, it's fresher than any other tea you can buy.
We pair this commitment to quality with a mission to change the tea industry for the better. Read on to find out how.
Nepal Tea is chemical-free
Tea production is incredibly sensitive to small changes in environmental conditions.
Climate change is a looming threat. It brings changes in temperature and CO2 levels, and also a heightened risk of pest infestations. To combat this, more and more plantations are turning to pesticides.
Pesticides have been linked to adverse health effects in humans. This is especially worrying when you consider that almost all teas aren't washed at any point in the production process. Often, the first time they come into contact with water is in your cup.
Pesticides also put workers at risk. To guard against potential harmful effects, workers have to wear Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). However, in scorching hot summer conditions PPE can be impractical and cumbersome to wear. As a result, many workers are tempted to go without.
Nepal Tea is 100% pesticide-free. We think the harm that these chemicals cause is too much of a price of a pay. As a result, our tea is better for the planet, better for workers and better for you.
Nepal Tea is climate-friendly
In an increasingly competitive international tea market, environmental sustainability is often neglected.
Not so at Nepal Tea. We're wedded to methods that minimise waste and limit the environmental impact of farming tea.
For example, we've invested in gassifier technology that reduces the total amount of firewood used in the tea-drying process.
What firewood we do use comes from a sustainable source: our own tea garden. When we cut down one tree, we plant two new ones immediately after.
None of our 'waste' products truly go to waste. Cow dung and tea dust are turned into fertiliser, allowing us to replenish the soil naturally. This eliminates the need for artificial, man-made fertilisers.
We're proud to say that our packaging displays our environmentally sustainable ethos, too. We make it out of bamboo, which is cut and carefully weaved by our farmers. How cool is that?
Nepal Tea prioritises sustainability
We shouldn't heap blame on other tea companies for using less-than-sustainable production methods.
The reality is, profit margins are falling and companies are increasingly having to make sacrifices in order to meet the costs of production.
Often, the choices companies are forced to make have a negative long-term impact. One example of this would be low worker wages – which ultimately diminishes productivity and negatively impacts each tea estate's bottom line.
This benefits no one. What's required is a collaborative relationship between tea drinkers and tea farmers. This relationship should also place a premium on the issue of climate change, ensuring the stability of tea production for future generations.
And that's where the Nepal Tea story starts.
The Nepal Tea story
Before we introduce Nischal Banskota – the founder of Nepal Tea – we should first tell the story of his father, Mr Deepak Prakaash Baskota.
Deepak Prakaash Baskota was just 15 when he first visited Darjeeling, a city in the Indian state of West Bengal. Inspired by the serenity of the beautiful tea gardens he found there and the high living standards of the workers who tended to them, he returned to his home village of Phidim, in Nepal, with a bold new vision. He resolved to improve the lives of his fellow villagers. And he was going to do it with tea.
In the following years, he pioneered the organic movement in Nepal. The Kanchanjungha Tea Estate and Research Center (KTE-RC), established in 1984, is the culmination of this dream. KTE-RC, the first organic-certified tea garden in Nepal, secures better lives for tea farmers by helping them pool their marginal lands together. A simple mantra defines KTE-RC's mission: People and planet before profit.
For his son Nishchal, founding Nepal Tea was the logical next step. Nishchal wanted to skip the inefficiency of working with middle-men, and to instead bring Orthodox Organic Nepali Tea directly to the North American market.
Nishchal wanted to forge a stronger link between American tea drinkers and Nepali tea farmers. Now, with Nepal Tea, consumers in the USA can buy delicious, chemical-free tea at an attractive price that's fair for farmers.
Nepal Tea works according to the 'triple bottom line'. We believe that making a profit, helping the environment and looking after our employees all go hand in hand. In fact, they reinforce each other. By prioritizing these three aims, we provide a better product for everyone.
We've launched a wide variety of socially responsible initiatives over the years:
- The Cow Bank Project. Launched in 2005 in response to high poverty in Nepal, this project donates cows to farmer's families. Already we've donated 177 high-yielding cows. The goal is to make that 500 by 2025.
- The Free Education Project. We launched this initiative in 2002 to tackle high illiteracy rates in Nepal. Now, the children of all our farmers get scholarships to local schools. We have provided 2300 scholarships in total.
- The Farmers Co-op. We run a food-subsidy program for farmers in the field and workers in our tea processing units. The subsidy covers food and other essential items. We're expanding this over time – soon, we'll be providing clothes at a subsidized rate too.
Over the years, Nepal Tea has gone from strength to strength. We've even attracted some high-profile media attention, such as in this New York Times story: Don’t Call It Darjeeling, It’s Nepali Tea.
Something we're very proud of is our pioneering work in tea tourism. After all, what better way for tea consumers to connect with tea farmers than traveling to Nepal and meeting them in person? We specialize in immersive tea tours where you can try your hand at plucking and rolling tea yourself – all while you enjoy the staggering beauty of picturesque Kathmandu. Find out more about the experience on our website, or in this Forbes Magazine article.
We believe that the biggest endorsement of Nepal Tea's social impact is the happiness of our employees. So we'd love for you to take a look at these testimonials from members of our organization.
'It has been more than 15 years that I have worked in Kanchanjangha Tea Estate and I must say it has been an honor, truly. I drive a jeep every day to get the tea leaves from our garden and bring it back to the factory for processing. I am quite a good driver and I was requested by the government in the village to become their official driver. It was a government job, so job security, easiness and pension were lucrative. However, I went home and calculated the finances of everything that the farm has been providing since I started, free housing, free education to my 2 children, daily food essentials at a subsidized rate, cows for extra income and so on and it was just a no brainer. So, I turned down the government job and have to say I am very happy with my decision.'
- Dhan Bahadur, Driver, Kanchanjangha Tea Estate, Nepal
I have been with Kanchanjangha Tea Estate since the start almost 36 years ago. I was the person who laid the foundation of the factory building. And look how well it has stood for so many years without being damaged! I am absolutely satisfied with the facilities and working environment here at KTE. My son worked here for some time and KTE itself arranged a better job for him as the driver of Chief District Officer (C.D.O.) of the village.
- Ratna Rai, one of the first employees of Kanchanjangha Tea Estate, Nepal
I came here from a different area of the district and it has been more than a decade that I have been here. Kanchanjangha Tea Estate has been a clear foundation for my entrepreneurial journey in some ways. I got a small loan from the Chairman, Mr Deepak Prakash Baskota, to start a small shop within the factory. I serve lunches, breakfast and daily goods for the locals. It has grown over the years. I also have my own meat business that I do early in the morning every day in the bazaar. Furthermore, I also work as a security guard some days in the factory. I wear multiple hats each day and love it. What is not there to love? I get to do what I like, have managed to send all my kids to school through KTE scholarship, have a place to stay along with my wife who also works in the factory. So, it is a well-rounded and busy life for me.
- Phasuram Khatiwada, cook, security guard, shopkeeper and an entrepreneur, Kanchanjangha Tea Estate, Nepal
Tea is not just a beverage to me, it is essentially my life. The journey that started with my visit to Darjeeling, India when I was 17 years old has shaped the entire structure of life for me. It is through tea that I was able to get into politics and serve as a minister of home affairs, it is through tea that I was able to make our village the model organic village with a thriving economy, it was through tea that I was able to start the cooperative movement in Nepal, it was through tea that I was able to do the most satisfying work of service my motherland.
Deepak Prakash Baskota, Founder/Chairman, Kanchanjangha Tea Estate, Nepal
- Deepak Prakash Baskota, Founder/Chairman, Kanchanjangha Tea Estate, Nepal
I am a man of stories. I believe everyone has their own amazing story and I was not wrong when I visited our family tea farm for the first time. Everyone I met there at the farm had their own personal story that is truly inspiring and that was when I made up my mind, I would do something to bring their stories to light and that is exactly what I do with Nepal Tea. It is a company that shares the stories of our amazing farmers and connects them to the consumers who drink the teas on the other side of the globe. My vision is to connect the primary producer to the ultimate consumers in the most meaningful way possible.
- Nishchal Banskota, Second generation tea producer at Kanchanjangha Tea Estate and Founder, Nepal Tea, New York, USA
Do you want to help change the tea industry for the better? Get started with 50% off on our sampler set. It includes all of our most-loved teas – so you can try something new every day and discover which blend you like best.