Nepal’s Tea – Orthodox & CTC

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Nepali tea is a beverage from the leaves of tea plants produced in Nepal. Nepal produces certain teas that are somewhat related to Darjeeling tea in its appearance, aroma and fruity taste. The reason for the similarity of tea produced in Nepal with the well-known Darjeeling tea is that the eastern zones of Nepal, which are the main tea producing regions of Nepal, have more or less the same geographical and topographical conditions as the Darjeeling.

Nevertheless, Nepal’s teas do stand apart from the Darjeeling tea, despite being introduced to the world much later than the Darjeeling tea. Tea connoisseurs consider some of the teas from Nepal to be much better than the Darjeeling tea in its aroma, fusion, taste and colour. However, Nepali tea has not been that successful in capturing limelight in the world tea market, mainly due to the lack of sufficient quantities of tea, that often fails to meet the demand. Since its inception, Nepal’s teas are characterized by two types of tea, which are Orthodox tea and CTC (Crush, Tear, Curl) tea.

Nepal has a long history of tea cultivation, initiated with the establishment of the Ilam Tea Estate in the hills of Ilam District in 1863 and Soktim Tea Estate in the plains. It is belived that Mr. Gajaraj Singh Thapa was given the first tea seeds from China and it was he who first started tea plantation in Ilam District.

Nepal tea is supreme in its quality aroma which has been recognized by tea drinkers worldwide. Nepal’s tea is being exported to Japan, Europe, USA and Indian and its demand is increasing rapidly. At present, Ilam District produces 16,368 metric tons of tea per annum from 5,262 hectares of land under tea farming.

Orthodox tea

Orthodox tea refers to the process, where the tea is hand-processed or by rolling it in the machines which mimics the hand rolling technique. Most of the specialty teas, like green tea, oolong tea, white tea and hand rolled tea come under the orthocategory of orthodox tea. In Nepal, orthodox tea is produced and processed in the mountainous regions of Nepal at an altitude ranging from 3,000 – 7,000 feet above the sea level. There are six major districts, primarily in the eastern regions of Nepal that are known for producing quality orthodox tea, which are Ilam, Panchthar, Dhankuta, Terhathum, Sindhulpalchok and Kaski.

Orthodox tea in Nepal is characterized by four flushes:-

First flush, begins in the fourth week of March and continues until the end of April. The leaves are tender and the liquor is light yellowish green in color, having a delicate taste with subtle aroma and flavor. The first flush is considered to be more expensive, because of its light and delicate flavor, but also due to the fact that it is produced in low quantity and the demand outstrips the supply.

Second flush, starts during the second week of May and lasts until the last week of July. In the second flush the leaves gain more strength and exhibits the main characteristics of tea in contrast to the first flush tea. Some experts state that the best tea is made during the second flush.

Monsoon flush, also referred as “Rainy tea” begins immediately after the second flush, that is around the last week of July and continues until the end of September. The monsoon tea, due to the continuous rain, exhibits a very intense and dark fusion as the tea develops its full color and strength, resulting into a full bodied tea. It is often recommended.

Autumn flush, usually begins in October and lasts until the end of November. The autumn tea gives a fantastic combination of musky flavors, tangy aromas and an amber liquor.

CTC Tea

KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERACrush tear curl (CTC) tea is a method of processing tea, where three main steps are involved – crush, tear and curl, hence the name CTC tea. CTC tea is produced in lower altitudes in the fertile plains of Nepal, which are warm and humid, primarily in the Jhapa district, which is ideal for the production and processing of CTC tea. The CTC tea produced in Nepal is known to be of average quality. It accounts for almost 95% of the domestic consumption, owing to its cost of production, which is much less comparatively to that of the orthodox tea.

The Nepal CTC tea is also characterized by four pronounced flushes, the First, Second, Monsoon and Autumn flushes, but unlike the orthodox tea, the CTC tea is more or less uniform throughout, often exhibiting a strong color and subtle aroma after infusion. However, the flushes does not begin and end in accordance with that of the orthodox tea, mainly because of the difference in the geographical and topographical conditions.

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