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A 15-year-old boy visited Darjeeling and was delighted by the serenity he found amidst the beautiful tea gardens that blanketed the Darjeeling hills. While walking through the lush plantation, he began pondering upon the tea laborers’ high standard of living and started drawing parallels with people of his own village who were struggling to meet even the basic requisites of life. And when he returned to Phidim (a small village in Eastern Nepal), he brought back a vision to establish a tea factory to uplift the living conditions of his village.
This boy was Mr. Deepak Prakash Baskota who successfully established the Kanchanjangha Tea Estate (KTE) which is now 32 years old. However, his journey has been anything but smooth. When he first pitched his idea of a tea estate, it wasn’t met with a lot of enthusiasm as tea plantation was a new concept in the area. The people being a stranger to the process doubted its practicality. Despite the lack of support Mr. Baskota delved head first into his project idea and started the tedious process of learning and experimenting.
First steps first- the soil had to be tested for fertility and compatibility for tea plantation so Mr Baskota gathered two sack full of soil and lugged it to a laboratory in Siliguri (a city in the Darjeeling district). The whole journey took 3 days as it had to be made on foot due to lack of transportation at that time. He later found out that a handful of soil would have been enough for the test. The test results were positive and so began the journey of Kanchanjungha Tea Estate. Tea was just a morning beverage for Mr. Baskota until then but he sought out specialists and tea experts in Darjeeling in order to learn about tea and the process of tea making. He garnered knowledge about the orthodox tea and brought back tea seeds and clones to start his own plantation in Phidim.
Mr. Baskota was a pioneer who believed in “creating your own” and this mindset paved way for ‘Organic Farming’- a technique which was a revolutionary model in tea farming. He began organic plantation in his own parcel of land. Within the next three years, the villagers noticed the development and potential of tea farming and started offering him their lands for expansion of the plantation. Mr. Baskota finally managed to establish the tea factory in 1984 and adopted a groundwork of development which attempts to raise the living standards of the villager without destroying their way of life. Running along the lines of a co-operative, KTE has about 100 farmers pooling in their marginal land holdings to create the 95-hectare tea estate that currently supplies tea internationally.
Our story begins 32 years later when Nishchal Banskota, Mr. Deepak Prakash Baskota’s son and youngest member of the Baskota family stepped up with an idea of a social business venture to promote Nepal’s first certified organic tea from KTE now know as Kanchanjanga Tea Estate and Research Center (KTE-RC) with the hopes of providing best quality tea to the tea drinkers worldwide. Nishchal Banskota’s brainchild is Nepal Tea which officially took off in March of 2016.
Stay tuned to read more about the multi generational attempt to introduce Nepali tea to the world while making social differences along the journey. For now make yourself a cup of tea or discover a new flavor at https://nepalteallc.com/collections/all.
A peek into the life of Baskota family (Mr. Banskota, his wife Dambar and his son)