Notice to all Darjeeling fans: this year’s strike means there’s a lot less tea, along with a higher price tag (see earlier post).
Nepal, however, has been happily stepping in.
And also ushering in a few complications.
Darjeeling abuts Nepal’s east border,
- which means the two areas have pretty much the same climate
- which means that their teas may be quite similar
- which means that one tea could conceivably be passed off as the other.
Already in August concerns were raised about Nepali tea being sold as Darjeeling tea. At that time, the supplies of first- and second-flush Darjeeling teas for auction had already been depleted.
Nepali tea crossing into India is nothing new. As World Tea News explained in August,
To reduce the cost of acquiring tea for blending, India has a free trade agreement with Nepal. This means gardens in Nepal (some owned by Indian companies) do not pay an import duty.
And it has been blended with Darjeeling tea in the past, and then sold as Darjeeling, according to the Hindustan Times (November 2017). But the Times also reports traders saying that unblended Nepali tea is sold as Darjeeling.
However, there are myriad reasons why you should enjoy Nepali tea for its own sake.
The tea gardens in Darjeeling are well established, which also means that the plants are aging and there is little room for expansion.
Nepal, as a relative newcomer, has younger plants along with a favorable environment.
And due to the strike, they currently have many employees who earlier left the Darjeeling gardens in search of jobs and now have stayed in Nepal (well, this is sort of both a pro, for Nepal, and a con, for Darjeeling).
This beautiful leaf yields a deep reddish cup:
I love this tea’s amazing aroma and flavor!
I know that delicate and subtle teas have their place but sometimes I just need a tea that holds its own—waking me up with bold and wonderful flavor that matches its intoxicating aroma!
And by the way, Nepali teas don’t need to replace Darjeeling teas; they can stand right alongside Darjeeling teas.
Bolton, D. “Nepali tea growers fill Darjeeling void,” World Tea News, August 28, 2017.
Girl, P. “‘Good quality’ Nepal tea spoils Darjeeling’s party,” Hindustan Times, November 18, 2017.