The Nepali First Flush has a story unlike none.
The astrologers first looked through the papers and consulted the Gods. An auspicious time for the plucking was decided. The time would coincide with the first rays of the morning sun caressing the leaves in the third day of the waxing moon of the lunar date of Falgun Shukla Trayodashi (फागुन शुक्ल त्रयोदशी), or the third day of the waxing moon in the Nepali month of Falgun, or the English month of March. The date was coincidentally one day before Holi - a delight for the farmers as they celebrate after the first harvest of the season. For the producer of our first flush, Nirananda Acharya, the overlap of Holi with the start of the production process is nothing but an omen. A promise that his tea will be something special.
The priest chanted numerous mantras and declared that the fresh tea leaves were ready to be plucked. The time was ripe and the farmers were ready to start the first harvest of the season after three months of wait. The Nepali first flush began its journey from the farm, which will eventually reach your lovely home.
After a joyous day of plucking in between the friendly banters, the tea leaves were ready in the farmer’s dokos. The teas were then weighed in a traditional weighing balance and dumped onto crates. A sturdy pick-up truck, designed especially for the rough terrain of the Panchthar district of Nepal, picked up the crates and we joined in, next to the leaves. We could not believe what we were seeing. The tea leaves were of the highest quality that I had ever seen in my life. It was as if I was looking at green gold.
As soon as the teas reached Kanchanjangha Tea Estate and Research Center, the teas were carefully spread across the withering trough. The day was over and we all went to sleep. The next day, we went back to the withering room. I cannot describe the smell of the leaves pervading the entire space. If there was any smell in the world that I could surround myself with for my entire life - this was it. There was no comparison to the smell of the organic Nepali first flush tea. Absolutely none.
I stood there in awe – these were the very leaves that would reach the doorsteps of tea lovers all over the world. Everyone wanted the first flush — the queen of the teas — and I had not really understood what that meant until I experienced it all. There was more to tea than just the processing. There were lives that intersected with the tea.
The happiness of the farmers foreseeing a productive farming year.
The joy of the processing staff in navigating the delicacy of the leaves.
The relief in the producer’s face knowing that the tea’s taste has been captured perfectly.
I cannot help but imagine how you would feel if you could taste the tea for yourself. I can only wonder, but I think I know what it will make you feel like.