Recently a friend of mine returned from working in Nepal. He enjoys tea drinking, and during his trip was able to attend a couple of tea tastings with the owner of Jun Chiyabari – a well-known tea garden in Nepal.
Nepal faces a few challenges that make growth difficult in different industries, including the tea industry. Some of these challenges include periods of political unrest, poverty, and the difficulty of maintaining roads due to Nepal’s location in the Himalayas. For a long time the tea produced in Nepal was low grade black tea using India’s Crush Tear Curl (CTC) method, or somewhat higher grade black tea similar to India’s Darjeeling tea – which would be used to cut the real Darjeeling grown in India.
Recently there has been a growth in the amount of higher quality tea produced in Nepal, however. It is possible to find good green teas, black teas, and even wulong teas. Jun Chiyabari is a good example of a garden producing this new kind of higher quality tea. They started searching for suitable land to grow tea in 2000, and finally opened in 2001. In the past 17 years since opening, they have learned from different tea producers in Japan and Taiwan. These partnerships have offered insights into methods of tea production, as well as the chance to buy specialized machinery for producing tea. In more recent years the garden has started exporting organic products to the UK, Germany, Switzerland, and some other countries.
My friend said that the owner of the garden has earned a lot of money from self-sustaining businesses in other industries. For this reason he has free capital to fund projects like community galleries, and the tea garden project. These things may not make the most money, but provide something good for the people involved.
After sampling many different teas produced in 2017, my friend along with two other friends of his unanimously decided that they liked one tea in particular. This tea is a green tea named Himalayan Shiiba. I didn’t understand why it was called this, but was able to learn from an online tea vendor selling this tea that it is named Shiiba because the varietal of tea trees were transported from the Shiiba village of Miyazaki prefecture in Japan to the Jun tea garden in Nepal.
Brewing Method and Tasting Notes
I was recommended to brew this tea using a somewhat larger vessel with longer infusions. I wound up using 3 grams of tea in a 200 ml pot, and brewing three infusions of tea. The water temperature I used was roughly 75°C – 85°C, and the infusion time was 1 – 2 minutes.
The aroma of the dry leaves was rich with warm spicy qualities, similar to the aroma of nutmeg or cinnamon. The brewed tea had these notes of spice along with rich flavors of grains or cereals. These rich qualities were balanced by a substantial floral sweetness. The texture of the tea was very smooth and creamy, so much so that it reminded me of a Jin Xuan “Milk Wulong” tea from Taiwan.
This tea is not meant to be reinfused many times. The first and second infusions were very enjoyable to drink, with everything fading out by the third infusion. What the tea offered however was good and pure, so I would recommend trying it out if you have a chance!