About Jun Chiyabari Garden
Here at Tea Trekker we fell in love with both the High Himalaya Hand-Rolled Tips black tea and the High Himalaya Jade Oolong because they are delicious. However, another reason that we like these teas is that Jun Chiyabari Garden has a strong commitment to the culture and economy of the region in which it is located. This is from their mission statement:
“One of our core philosophies is to be an active member and integral part of our local community. Jun Chiyabari directly employs over 200 people, mostly women, in an impoverished rural hill district of Nepal. However we still feel it is imperative that we contribute towards the betterment of our countrywomen and men in other ways too.
We believe that in the long run education is the most important investment that our nation needs. The results will not be seen instantaneously so it tends not to draw the attention and help of people. We, at Jun Chiyabari view education the same way that we view our investment in young tea saplings that grow to mature, productive bushes over many years to produce fine teas. Similarly, we believe education will produce fine young women and men over the years.
Every time a customer walks into a store in a corner of the world and purchases a Jun Chiyabari tea, they are contributing a part of that money towards our community in particular and country at large.”
The following excerpt is from issue #538 (28 JAN 2011 – 03 FEB 2011) of the Nepali Times. We think it captures the flavor of the work day at Jum Chiyabari Tea Estate quite nicely:
Everyone’s cup of tea
Nepal tea company empowers women to get ahead in the tea business
JANA ASENBRENNEROVA in DHANKUTA
Kalpana Rai prepares tea cups for tasting at the Jun Chiyabari Tea Estate in Hile. Outside, the mist rolls up hillsides draped with lush tea gardens. The steam rises as Rai pours hot water into a cup, takes a sip, and smiles. “I like this one,” Rai tells her boss. Supervisor Morris Orchard nods in agreement as he rolls the brew around in his mouth.
Earlier stereotyped only as tea-pickers, women like Kalpana Rai are rising up the ranks in Nepal’s tea industry. Jun Chiyabari and other tea estates in eastern Nepal are at the forefront of those offering new opportunities for women.
“We went one step ahead and appointed women workers into supervisory levels, not only in the field but also at the factory,”explains Lochan Gyawali whose family started Jun Chiyabari 10 year ago. The tea factory now has several women in supervisory roles.
Kalpana Rai is modest young woman, and an undergraduate in business management. She shrugs off the attention. “There aren’t many options for us in Hile,” she says, “I feel I’m lucky.”
But it’s more than luck that has allowed women to get ahead, says Archana Karki of Empowering Women of Nepal (EWN). “Nepal is still a conservative patriarchal society,” Karki explains, “there are many rules that constrain women to stay in the home and work in the family house and fields.”
Rai, who studied at Mahendra Multiple Campus in Dharan, works as the company’s record keeper while studying for her masters degree. Rai’s colleagues express the same optimism about their jobs, how it has meant they haven’t had to migrate for work to support their families.
“I enjoy my job and the people I work with here,” says Renuka Thakuri, 40, who supervises the tea sorting section of the factory and has been with Jun Chiyabari since it started.
Nearly 80 per cent of the 236-strong work force at Jun Chiyabari is made up of women. A dozen women in scarves sit together on a wooden floor in a circle, examining leaves that are just about ready for packaging. Some laugh, others chat while working. They are sifting through thousands of leaves to find and remove any that are damaged or flawed. The process needs deft fingers and concentration.
Jun Chiyabari’s owners say they consider women critical to the operations, and have equalised earnings for men and women. Says Gyawali: “Just because you have XY chromosome doesn’t mean you should have a different wage level.”
By sunset, the leaves collected by the women are delivered to the factory’s attic and spread out on drying plates to sit overnight and develop a rich aroma. The finished tea is packaged and sent to customers around the world as organic Himalayan tea, plucked and perfected by the women of Nepal.