"The Nepalese believe that every morning and evening, Siva, who lives at the top of Mount Kachenjunga, blows a gentle breeze onto the gardens, giving the tea its exceptional quality," said a Nepalese grower.
Sandwiched between China to the north and India to the south, Nepal is nestled in the heart of the Himalayas. With several peaks soaring higher than 26,200 feet (8,000 m), Nepal experiences weather conditions similar to those of Darjeeling. In fact, tea growing began there around the same time (late 19th century). However; whereas Darjeeling benefited from investment and production geared to the export market, the tea industry in Nepal suffered from inefficient government management that severely hampered the transition to privatization.
Nevertheless, over the last 10 years, the Nepalese industry has experienced rapid growth. The surface area of plantations has multiplied almost fivefold, increasing, from 8,600 acres (3,500 ha) in 1996 to more than 37,000 acres (15,000 ha) in 2004, while production, has increased at the same rate, going from 3,202 tons (2,905 t) in 1996 to 12,843 tons (I 1,6511) in 2004. In addition,the industry's prospects for the future are very promising, as many recently planted estates will soon be ready for harvesting.
Nepalese tea is produced primarily for the domestic market and consists mostly of black CTC-processed tea. Most of these teas are grown on the Terai Plains and at an altitude of no more than 1,000 feet (300 m). However, some plantations produce teas according to the orthodox method. These have aromatic qualities similar to those of Darjeeling teas and are also produced for the export market. They are found mostly in the mountainous regions of llam, Panchthar,Taplejung and Dhankuta. The districts of llam and Dhankuta produce Nepal’s premium-quality teas.
Although Nepal is already producing quality teas and its production is still developing on a more commercial level, the industry must overcome several hurdles before it can truly thrive - the precarious political situation, abject poverty and very bad roads do not encourage investment. However, it appears that some investors working in the tea sector in Darjeeling are showing more interest in the growing regions of Nepal, where conditions are similar to their own. If their plans come to fruition and they bring their knowledge and experience to Nepal, it would not be surprising to see the appearance of grands crus teas grown in these famous mountains.