"The more I think about our story in tea the more obvious it is that it is not our story it is the collective story of all the people we have met, who have helped us and all the different people that exist in the ecosystem of tea from the growers to the auction houses to those who help us import our fine teas.' Michelle Comins
Over the coming months we aim to give you a unique insight into the lives of the people we work with. Both those who work directly with tea and those who work 'around' the world of tea - craftspeople, agricultural institutions.... We will explore everything from motivations for a career in tea to what a normal day in tea looks like for people working in an around this great industry. At Comins we strongly believe that connecting with the origins of tea from the soil to the people who plant, pluck and process and the ceremonies that surround tea preparation can help us to find a new way to enjoy tea in our lives. By making more educated purchasing decisions we can support improvements in standards benefiting those who work in and around tea. In return, by opening ourselves up to the culture that has surrounded tea drinking for generations we can enjoy great tea in a way that provides us with time and space for ourselves and others. First up - wonderful Bhushan, one of our partners in Nepal...
Country Context : In Nepal almost all of the tea is cultivated on small holdings of an average size of approximately 2500 square meters. The farmers either sell their produce to tea factories or process it in their own cooperatives*. [*Himalayan Tea Producers Co-operative]
BHUSHAN CHANDRA | ILAM NEPAL
‘I had a real craze for tea drinking when I was young…
Later I found an opportunity to specialise on Tea from Assam, India and therefore I studied tea in Assam and later did my postgraduate on Green Tea from Japan.. Tea was therefore a natural choice for me. I found myself as the only tea expert in the country. Nepal. in 1991 after my specialisation from India. I joined my Tea Fraternity in 1987. My Roll No. at Tea College was 87-A-162 (Funny eh. I still remember this)
A life in tea is undoubtably challenging - the weather pattern and green leaf quality are always front of my mind. I need to decide which tea to make according to the weather condition. Therefore my day starts with calling the factory (If I am away in our head office in Kathmandu) and inquiring about the leaf arrival, their quality and condition, the weather and then deciding on what to produce if the weather swings the pattern (This is happening quite often now).
After calling the factory I then go to my Tea Room (Kathmandu Tea Room) where I carry our regular tea tasting. Evaluate orders and working on matching and blends. Alternatively I visit my Tea storage facility and get busy with blends and tasting. Often times checking the time that that particular tea was manufactured , recalling the leaf condition, season and weather patterns so as to come to a logical conclusion of repeat production of similar teas.
All of this takes place with the backdrop of all the usual issues of electricity failures and bad road conditions which are a constant phenomenon at the moment. I am looking at areas to bring in support toward permanent solution to the factory and farmers field.
I probably drink 10 -12 cups of Black tea a day. I switch from Ruby to Himalayan Gold in the morning and after dinner. During days, I prefer our Hand-rolled white Orange. Autumn calls Green Peony and Spring urges me for our spring whites. Monsoon absorbs me with green pearls and oolongs
In the village we enjoy our tea with roasted corn and sometimes home baked bread called roti or locally available biscuits. In cities we use biscuits mostly. I enjoy tea alone. In late afternoon I like my tea with light cookies and biscuits. Freshly barbequed green corn with fully fermented tea always appeal to me though'