In our search for great teas, we come across growers that couple remarkable product with compelling stories. Jun Chiyabari, a tea garden in Nepal, stands out in this regard.
First, some context: Unlike its neighbors to the north and south, Nepal did not have a significant tea industry until the last 20 years. Poor infrastructure, paired with a lack of access to financing and land, prevented growers from expanding their plantations and distributing beyond the local market. The introduction of the National Tea and Coffee Development Board in 1992 laid the groundwork for fostering the growth of the tea trade.
With this backdrop, two brothers, Bachan and Lochan, ventured to buy a small plot of land near Kathmandu and planted their own tea garden from scratch. Tea was not new to the brothers. They had grown up in nearby tea mecca of Darjeeling, where the trade permeated all aspects of life. Their garden was originally seeded with Darjeeling tea plants, before transitioning to Japanese, Chinese, and Taiwanese varietals. Today, Jun Chiyabari produces a complete range of teas, spanning about a dozen premium offerings. Although the plantation adhered to organic practices from the first planting, it took over a decade to secure international organic certification. During this period, the garden contended with limited production without reaping the pricing benefits that an organic label brings. This speaks to the perseverance of the brothers, as well as to the challenges the certification process poses for small scale growers.
What truly sets Jun Chiyabari apart is the exemplary role it plays in community development, particularly around education and gender equality. In addition to helping local schools pay for supplies and teacher salaries, the company assists impoverished families in sending girls to school. The majority of the grower’s 250 employees are women, who also hold key management positions and receive pay equal to male counterparts.
The garden’s stewardship of its land and its community sets an example for enterprises of all scales to follow. We’re proud to add Jun Chiyabari tea to our collection!