Nepal spoils Darjeeling’s tea party

SILIGURI, Darjeeling, India — Two years ago, when Niraj Lama began stocking an unknown tea from Nepal at Happy Earth Tea, his family’s tea importing company in New York, it was with some trepidation.

Jun Chiyabari Himalayan Autumn Bouquet, a light tea with notes of hay, honey and apples, came from a tiny Nepalese tea-growing garden with a history dating to only 2001. But at $10 an ounce (a little over 28 grams) it had a price tag “matching the premium Taiwan oolongs and only a few [of the] best Darjeelings.”

 Lama need not have worried. “In the Western market people are always looking for something new and exotic, and in that Nepal has evoked quite a bit of excitement,” he said. “People who once swore by Darjeeling have now been coming back for more of the Nepal tea, undeterred by its price.
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