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How We Make Organic Tea

August 21, 2012

in Nepal, Philanthropy

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Here it is again for your reading pleasure…

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Dear Donors and Friends,

Namaste and hello! The spring season in Nepal was both beautiful and tumultuous. The weather wasn’t very cooperative for Everest Expeditions, but for us trekkers, the shifting skies were magical. Days of sunshine alternated with days of snow and fog, while 8000 meter peaks were shrouded and revealed in the dance of clouds. Political turmoil has intensified as the country struggles with determining its government and constitution. Although this hasn’t hampered our tea program or the orphanage, it’s a growing concern for daily life in Nepal. Amidst the political uncertainty, the opening of our new factory has been a grounding source of optimism and hope for local farmers.

Factory Opens

Withered leaves are put into the roller

Our factory opened in May with a successful training on processing, care, and bush management. Over 115 farmers participated across 4 locations. At the main factory site, 25 people were invited to attend, but over 40 people showed up to participate! Two full-time factory staff were also trained on processing with the new machines, and initial problems (like uneven heat in the dryer) were resolved.

200,000 New Plants

Ratna Examines Saplings

With the factory working, farmers are “very much excited” and want to expand their tea fields. This means that not all tea is being harvested. Instead they are letting some plants grow so they can take cuttings for saplings and plant nurseries. We expect over 200,000 new saplings to be planted this year and even more next year! In the last few months, 22 farmers from our cooperatives visited the main tea growing area of Nepal to learn about the processing and plant care there. The new factory management committee has taken over and a public audit was held so that all of the factory expenditures and decisions are clear and transparent to the whole community.

 

Going Into Production

Tea and tea

Now the main goal is to produce tea and make the quality consistent. Tea leaves have to be brought to the factory within 14 hours after picking and some plantations are hours walk from the road. Collection and transportation schedules require careful coordination in an area with only the occasional 4-wheel jeep to the end of the monsoon-rutted road. The system is working well, and we will have about 750 lbs of finished tea in the first 2 months of operation. All that tea is being sold at the main district market, while the factory works on improving consistency. Quality control is our greatest concern right now, and as it improves, the tea will be ready for the export market in Kathmandu.

 

A decade of work is coming to fruition as farmers increase their earnings and living standards, provide better education for their children, and improve their homes. A whole new income-generating industry has been created–and you have helped to make it happen! Thank you for your support!

At a village home, we're all enjoying the local tea!

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