After seeing the potential in Nepalese teas a couple of years ago they have been on The Steepery Tea Co's wishlist as a region to introduce to my customers. I feel exceptionally fortunate to have met Jeni Dodd from Jeni Dodd Tea in 2018 when she visited Australia. I cannot tell you how excited I am to introduce a selection of Nepalese black and white teas that gives you some insight and set a benchmark for this incredible tea growing region.
It was while I was sitting as an attendee of the 2018 Australian Tea Cultural Seminar listening to Jeni deliver an engaging and thought-provoking address about Tea as Art sipping on Bardu Honeymoon that I knew this tea would be so thoroughly enjoyed by the Australian market. It was easy to brew, easy to drink and just simply delicious. It was also the first time I had tasted a Nepalese tea where I could detect a distinct style as opposed to the producer trying to replicate or emulate an existing style.
It is important for me to partner with good hearted people that have a genuine passion and love for tea and Jeni is one of these gems. Learning about the projects and initiatives Jeni is personally invested in within Nepal and the deep love she has for the country, the people and the tea makes me feel so honoured that she has allowed me to share her teas within the Australian market. Thank you Jeni!
Jeni has graciously answered some questions on Nepali teas that I hope will give you an insight into her motivations and passion that makes her an exceptional sourcing partner to work with and allows us to access some truly incredible pure leaf teas.
1. Why have you been drawn to Nepali tea?
The first time I tried or even hear of Nepali teas was at the Origins Tasting at World Tea Expo. I was blown away by the white tea and begged the guys to let me buy some samples so I could try with New York City water. They said they would send some to me, but never did. The next time I saw them, I asked again...again, they said of course, but the samples never came. Serendipitously, Tea USA trade organisation sent a note to its members saying it was organising a tea trip to Nepal...so I thought the only way I would be able to get this tea was to go there myself and that's what I did. When I was in Nepal, I fell in love with the country, the people and even more deeply with the tea.
2. How do you decide which tea producers to work with in Nepal?
I visit every tea farmer/producer who invites me. I walk the land, I go through their processing systems and I taste their tea. I do this every time I go to Nepal, which is about 3-4 times a year. I only am interested in the highest-quality, hand-crafted tea I can find. So, once I know they are certified organic or at least growing organic, then it boils down to my palate and whether I like and can get excited about the tea. I am very selective about what I choose because I know the only advantage I have is my palate and my reputation for being able to find the best teas.
3. Can you share one interesting fact about the Nepali tea market that may not be commonly known?
Often I think the fact there is even tea in Nepal is an interesting fact to most people. But, I also find that being irrigated by the pure runoff water from the Himalayan mountains give these teas a rare and unique flavour you cannot find anywhere else in the world.
4. What are the characteristics of quality Nepali teas?
The overwhelming characteristic is the smoothness. Nepalese teas are so easy to drink and so accessible. I feel like the tea is just like the people of Nepal -- warm, inviting and welcoming. But, also, like the Nepalese, the teas are multi-layered and just a little mysterious. There is always that intriguing aspect that you simply cannot identify or verbalise. I think it is these opposites...both being accessible and mysterious, that keep me constantly enchanted and seeking more.
5. How would you describe innovation in the Nepali tea industry?
Many people look at the Nepalese tea talk about where they need to improve. No doubt, there is room for improvement. But, I look at the tea industry in Nepal and I am amazed at where they are. As an independent country that has never been colonised, Nepal had to build all of its infrastructure on its own. Also, it has only been since the early '90s that tea producing/growing has been privately owned...and that is the 1990s!!! So, they have made incredible strides in the industry in short order. The quality and uniqueness of their tea has really driven the Nepalese tea market to be a player in the global market.
Head over to our online store to try our Nepali teas. Our latest collection can be found here.