My Journey

Chiyabari / Chee-ya-ba-ree / a tea garden (Nepalese)

This is my story!

Growing up in a tea garden was a heavenly experience.  Fresh fragrant air, delightfully manicured greens, popping sounds of lightning, flowers in bloom, rains, and of course, the wafting aroma of freshly brewed Darjeeling tea.

The “Chiyabari” was the center of my universe – running down the hills, paddling in the “khola” (a stream), reading books in utter quietness or admiring the fireflies from my bedroom windows – a veritable treasure trove of nature.  My father lovingly taught me the art of brewing tea.  My instincts trained to learn the nuances of taste and aroma.

Back from college, I started to see the true economic impact of the Chiyabari, around a hundred of them dotting the slopes of Darjeeling hills.  Thousands and thousands of people owed their livelihood to the Chiyabaris, getting up in the morning and walking down the steep slopes, looking for the perfect “two leaf and a bud” and hand plucking them with great care.

But the use of pesticides and insecticides was increasing. Economic pressures from price stagnation, centuries old auction system and few direct to consumer channels were forcing producers to increase production at lower costs.  The impact was severe.  First, the birds abandoned their little nests on our roof, the fireflies started disappearing and then the creepers and other flora just died.  It was eerie – my Chiyabari had lost its soul. Back from the US, the notion of sustainable farming practice as the key to

Back from the US, the notion of sustainable farming practice as the key to revival of tea industry started to take shape.  Sustainable farming meant being ethical to nature, to the community and to yourself.  More importantly, only sustainable farming held any hope to arresting the alarming rate of migration out of the beautiful hills we called home.

Few years back, our Chiyabari decided to turn organic.  The management invested a lot of time and money into the effort.  The intense effort paid back handsomely.  In front of my own eyes, I could see rare birds and brilliant flora return. Our Chiyabari had started blooming again.

My idea of ethically handcrafted teas is a tribute to the sheer brilliance of mother nature and respect for the thousands and thousands of workers who work tirelessly to produce the most flavorful cup of tea in the whole wide world.

In my journey to bring the best tea to all our customers, we learned more about teas.  I traveled to organic tea garden to soak in the history and experience that creates the best tea in the most organic way. We watched and worked with the world’s finest tea masters and processors, artisans large and small who handpick every leaf in a careful complex step.

We too became Tea artisans. And fell in love. With growing relationships with this planet’s organic farmers, people who are passionate about their tea and giving back to the earth. We fell in love with how beautiful the tea looks and all of the complex tastes and smells that emerge when you blend different varieties of tea.  We became the kind of people who blend tea slowly, with obsessive care and an eye for the small details.  It is a simple secret, and what makes a pampered leaf into a great cup of tea.

Chiyabari is the birthplace of this love. The childhood love for Chiyabari where the art of brewing tea is the way of life.  Where the water, the sun, the soil and the people combine to create a unique universe of sensation and life.

We source all our tea from gardens with the certifications signifying sustainable practices that support organic agricultural, environmental protection, and fair compensation for tea growers and workers.  If we are not buying directly from the farmer, Chiyabari relies upon and trusts its additional tea suppliers to follow along these principals.

And though we now source from around the Earth, that essence of the Darjeeling Tea Garden is in every delicious cup. Come experience the inspiration with us at Chiyabari Tea. And start your own tea journey to the experience of Ethically Handcrafted Teas.

Swetambali Jha

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