Nepal, India or China? Know your tea!

So which tea do YOU prefer? Even if it’s “Yorkshire” or “Tetleys” it has to come from somewhere and it’s most likely from one of the big three.
We have experienced tutored tea tastings in Nepal and China which were just like wine tastings in France, but instead of different grapes, regions or vignerons……. it was tea.

Tea tasting, Shanghai

To a couple of tea lovers like ourselves the coffee-shop explosion in the U.K. is a mystery, everywhere you turn there’s a Costa, Starbucks, Nero, Coffee One, Wild Bean, Coffee Republic ……and also places where coffee is “free” such as with your Waitrose card in the supermarket. Every garage has a Coffee takeaway and people fill up with fuel then buy their obligatory coffee in a cardboard cup to go. Whatever happened to pots of tea in Lyons, Kardomah, Ceylon Tea Centre? These were the places where you weren’t just offered a meagre choice of English Breakfast, Earl Grey or a bewildering array of teas made from obscure herbs, berries, roots and bark from the Amazon Rain Forest or hills of Borneo! It reminds me of vegetarians eating a nut cutlet that looks like a pork chop!
Let’s start at the beginning. In our world teas are black or green. Green teas are commonly Sencha or Bancha and mostly grown in Japan and China, but you can get them from Nepal. Indian teas are commonly Black and named after their region of growth such as Assam or Darjeeling. The predominant tea growing region in Nepal is Ilam, also for Black teas.
Next, just like wine there are narrower districts and growers. So in Nepal there is Dankhuta in Ilam with multiple estate growers in that area, similarly in Assam and Darjeeling in India.

Sencha, Green Tea. [Japan]

Bancha, Green Tea. [Japan]

Shree Antu, Second Flush. [Nepal]

Dankhuta Golden Tips, [Nepal]

Yunan, Ying Ming. [China]

Yunan, Golden Tips [China]

Finally there is the “grading” of tea which depends on things like when the tea is plucked such as first flush, second flush etc, whether tips or whole leaf or powdery bits are used. This leads to a bewildering list of letters used to grade a tea and here are a few letters you will find on loose leaf teas with their meanings:

Tea Grade examples, Whole Leaf

Most of the teas we drink we either buy from specialist merchants in Oxford, Bath and Kent, or import direct from Nepal via a relative who buys in Kathmandu at the Himalaya Tea Corner. This shop in Kathmandu is our favourite place around the world to taste, learn about and buy tea. But if you can’t get to Kathmandu then seek out your nearest tea merchant and have a tasting …… and don’t buy powdery stuff or tea bags! And ….. Nepal, India or China …. you might be surprised!

Tea tasting, Kathmandu

Categories: Travel, Wine

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19 replies

  1. Reblogged this on Janet's Thread 2 and commented:
    Interesting post. But no mention of Bangladesh or Kenya


  2. Reblogged this on HX Report and commented:
    For the tea lovers amongst you……


  3. Fascinating post. Just like TC’s comment above, I am now sick as a pig that I missed a tea tasting opportunity when in Nepal a few years back. But I had the incredible pleasure of having the best cup of tea I ever tasted in my life, next to ‘Lipton’s Seat’ at the highest point of the tea plantation formerly owned by the famous Sir Thomas Lipton near Haputale, Sri Lanka. I will happily take the taste of that one to my grave!


    • Thank you Micheal, always wanted to visit Sri Lanka for tea … and Buddhism of course. Maybe you could reblog my post to ensure fewer people miss the opportunity in Nepal?


  4. I was a bit disappointed when I moved to China and found that tea is usually kept for special occasions and otherwise the norm is to drink plain boiling hot water. Seems like a missed opportuniTEA. 😛

    I did get the chance to try some really great teas though! Fun fact: in China green tea is a summer beverage and black tea is for winter. The reasoning is something to do with Chinese medicine.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I can’t believe I didn’t do any tea tasting when I was in Nepal!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. You get a good cup of tea in Portugal. They claim they introduced it to England through Katherine of Braganza.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Good morning, I’ll check that out. Just enjoying my usual morning cup of a personal blend of Dankhuta and Antu from Nepal.


      • I have an Earl Grey tea bag brew in my hand. Sorry!

        Liked by 1 person

      • Each to his own! Just found a reference to Braganza and tea on Wikipedia, spot on!


      • Following this up further just found a good book, Tea, The Drink That Changed The World. Most of my tea knowledge is about types and grades so history stuff will be good to add. Prepare for a few boring posts …… again!


      • So long as Katherine of Braganza gets full credit!
        The best cup of tea that I ever had was in Galicia in Spain. Just Tea Bags and boiling water in an aluminium jug but it was heavenly.
        In my first job the junior staff took turns in making tea and coffee at mid morning break. One day an Indian girl started work and fairly soon it was her turn. She horrified the office when she prepared the tea complete with milk and sugar all in the same pot. She explained that this was the way that they did it at home.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Tea is mostly prepared in that way in ordinary Nepalese homes. Worse is Tibetan tea with Leaf, butter, salt …… all mashed in a long cylindrical bamboo pot. Only tried it once!
        My dad who worked in the local ironworks in the foundry used to take two large pop bottles of tea with sugar but no milk to work each day.

        Liked by 1 person

  7. Nothing like a good tea shop. I do enjoy a Rooibos tea from Africa from time to time as well. Most coffee shops serve tea. Starbucks has a good selection. But when I was in the UK, the Costa didn’t have tea. I was amazed. Never mind, the teashops in York were wonderful.

    Liked by 1 person


  1. Don’t you just hate ….. the “C” word? – Buddha walks into a wine bar …
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