Chinese ambassador praises Ilam tea

Published On: April 3, 2018 05:00 AM NPT By: Bhim Chapagain

ILAM, April 3: Nepali organic tea is popular in many countries across the world. Within Nepal, some consider tea produced in Ilam as the best. While visiting some of the tea estates in the district recently, Chinese Ambassador Yu Hong praised Nepali tea and suggested for improving strategy to market it in China. 

“Tea from Nepal is very much popular. More so, when it is from Ilam,” said Yu on Monday while spending time in Kanyam Tea Estate. “Tea produced in Ilam has unique smell, like sweet smell of a flower,” she added.

Though I am not an expert to speak on this matter, I believe that the future of Nepal's tea industry is very bright.  - Yu Hong, Chinese Ambassador to Nepal 

Ambassador Yu was in Ilam along with her economic advisors. The team, which minutely studied several aspects of tea production and its quality, discussed about greater scope of tea produced in Ilam. Tea estate owners and locals closely watched her field visit. 

During the visit, she had shown keen interest in knowing the entire process of tea production and processing. She inquired how green tea leaves are processed, how their quality is maintained, how it is rolled, dried and packaged. 

“I feel that this black tea will be pretty much liked in China,” she said. “Even Chinese tourists in Nepal ask local businessperson for serving them Nepali tea,” she added. 

Stating that tea produced in Ilam is very special, she suggested industrialists to expand their market to China. “Though I am not an expert to speak on this matter, I believe that the future of Nepal's tea industry is very bright,” the ambassador said. 

She also informed that the Chinese government has waived tax on tea export-import to China for enhancing the tea market. During her visit, she tasted tea produced by Suryodaya Tea Estate, Gorkha Tea Estate and Kanyam Tea Estate. 

Locals elated

Tea farmers in Ilam have freshly plucked green tea leaves. This has drawn domestic and international visitors to their tea gardens. Ambassador Yu's visit was an ice topping to it. 

“High level visits such as the Chinese ambassador's visit to our tea gardens and factors have greater significance for our industry. Her genuine inquiries into our tea producing and processing methods, has elated the spirit of the tea farmers and industrialists,” noted Udaya Chapagain, proprietor of Gorkha Tea Estate. “This visit is expected to expand the market of tea. We all have taken it very positively,” he added. 

According to tea industrialists, selling tea in China or India is easier than to other countries in terms of the distance the tea has to travel. Nearer the destination, easier it is handle the package. Presently, Ilam tea is exported to countries like Germany, USA, Russia, New Zealand, China and France, among others. Many businesspersons from these and other countries come in person to test the quality of the tea and enter a deal, he said. 

“Our tea is doing great. It has been attracting buyers from several countries. If we could further expand existing market in our neighboring countries, it would help us grow beyond limits. If we can penetrate the China market further, it will be a great deal for us,” Chapagain stated. 

Presently tea wroth two billion rupees is exported to China annually. However, tea industrialists claim that there is huge untapped market in China. 

Tea business is very sensitive as tea cannot be stored for long. Quality seekers prefer to buy fresh tea. According to Chapagain, delay in collecting tea leave and processing, packaging or selling, affects the quality of tea. “Everything has to be in time,” he said. 

Rajanish Mudaliyar, manager of Kyanyam Tea Estate feels that Ilam tea is preferred to Darjeeling tea because they pick younger leave. “Our tea is younger and fresher. Ilam's climate suits better to growing tea. Along with that our production and processing methods have helped in making our tea better than others,” he added. 

According to Mudaliyar, Ilam tea estates should be able to expand its market in and outside the country. “We won't have problem of buyers once we do that. Tea produced here is special due to the different climate we have here. Our organic tea is quite in demand already,” he said.  

Meanwhile, coordinator of Tea Business Expansion Project, Indra Adhikari stated that Ilam tea is likely to get better market in China following the ambassador's visit.  “The visit seems to be focused on how our tea business can fare well in China, so we all are happy about it,” he said. 

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