Last month, T Ching published an article on ways that you can expand your tea experience and education. Tea Tourism was one possibility that we discussed. Today’s article details one possibility for tea tourism that can be appreciated by anyone who would love to immerse themselves in the world of tea. Read the T Ching article.
Today’s Guest Contributor is Nischal Banskota, son of the founder Kanchenjunga Tea Estate and organizer of Nepalese tea farmers, Deepak Banskota.
The Nepali Tea Experience – A glimpse into the past
The story of Nepal Kanchenjunga Tea Estate begins with a young man with a vision.
Deepak Banskota was 15 years old when he traveled to Darjeeling. As he strolled through the thriving plantation, he began reflecting on how well the tea workers seemed to be living, and he compared their situation to the struggles faced by people in his own village.
And so inspiration struck, Deepak returned with a mission– to bring tea to his village in Phidim and uplift the living standards of his community.
As most stories of men interfering with the ‘natural order’ of things goes, the path to bringing tea into a tea-less society was filled with challenges.
But Deepak was perseverant, from lugging sacks of soil on foot from Nepal to India on a three day journey for a soil test (and upon arriving, being told to his bemusement that a handful would have sufficed) to bringing tea experts, seeds and clones to begin production from Darjeeling, to attempting (unsuccessfully) to convince his community to start farming tea, Deepak managed through years of pursuit to convince and establish a tea estate in Phidim.
The people of Phidim have a deep connection to the land, and they see themselves as caretakers of a sacred place.
By 1984, over 100 farmers pooled together their land in a cooperative model to create a 95 hectare tea estate. Now, Nepal Tea Collective has been established as a multi-national company by Deepak’s son Nischal. Over 712 farmers across 7 tea estates have received over 2500 scholarships, 70 cows have been distributed, and wages and living standards have increased exponentially since the first seeds of tea were sown in Phidim.
Immersive Tea Tourism Experience
Today, this beautiful tea estate is open for visitors around the world. In a 10-day experience, participants are able to visit the tea farms and engage with the locals and their stories, taste award-winning teas, and explore their own relationships with nature, community all under the careful guidance and gaze of the Himalayas and the founder of Nepal tea Collective. And the highlight of it all – make your own teas from the start to finish!
This immersive experience is designed to inspire and inform, with participants following the entire process of tea from plucking, processing to production culminating in visitors creating their own unique tea blends with chosen tea leaves and botanicals.
Each day is a new adventure, upon landing to the capital city of Kathmandu, visitors will get the chance to douse themselves in tea tastings across the city as well and visit the heritage sites, local eateries, temples, museums and shops all while enjoying the ubiquitous festivals that are integrated into the lifestyle of Nepali people. They will also be able to immerse themselves in the local household culture by learning how to cook a typical Nepali dish.
(Image on the left is of a visit to the singing bowl factory. Handcrafted bowlsof all sizes and tones are made by a master craftsman.)
Slowly, visitors will get the opportunity to travel to four different tea farms under the Nepal Tea Collective banner as well as the Kanchenjunga Tea Estate and Research Center, all while residing, dining and conversing in the homes of those that drive this industry.
Observing first hand the impact of a product that has transformed communities while learning about the unique qualities of the product itself is truly a unique experience. Through conversations over unlimited cups of tea, often plucked directly in front of your very eyes, lifelong relationships and learning are gleaned. And appreciation for the multifaceted impacts of a product grown and delivered with intent and passion are steeped into the minds of the participants.