Nepal, believed by some to be the birthplace of the Buddha, also happens to produce some of the words' finest Orthodox teas. The tea industry in the country got its start sometime around 1873. In that year a man named Colonel Gajraj Singh Thapa, son-in-law of Jung Bahadur (Nepal's most famous historical ruler), paid a visit to neighboring Darjeeling. Whenever he went the locals offered him steaming cups of tea, which he found to be quite delicious. He was also apparently, according to historical account, quite taken with the sign of the orderly rows of tea that were carved into the mountain steppes up around the town of Darjeeling. Upon his return to Nepal, the Colonel, estimating that the climactic and topographical conditions in his country were likewise suitable for tea, set about establishing two estates and so the industry was born.
The exceptionally clean air, rich mountain soil, and pure, beaming sunlight produced bushes that flushed four times per year, yielding full leaves densely packed with incredible flavor. Raw leaf in the country is grown by a mix of smallholders and larger plantations, which has resulted in a good variety of sustainable employment opportunities for the Nepalese. Interestingly, nearly 60% of tea workers employed in Nepal are female. Most professional tea tasters liken the better Nepalese teas to the top Darjeeling. The cup opens wide with the pointed muscatel bite of Darjeeling, offset by a soft round notes of wheat and moss, grounded by a good, mouth-filling astringency. The aroma and flavor of the cup expand with each sip. A heavenly delight from the "Rooftop of the World."
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