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Ilam tea becoming a popular drink in Japan

- BIPLAV BHATTARAI, ILAM

Ilam tea is becoming a popular choice of drink for Japanese people so much so that Maykhwa Thachuwa, a Japanese national, has been exporting the organic tea to Japan for the last few years.

Thachuwa first brought 16kg of tea from the district to Japan and the tea was an instant hit with Japanese tea drinkers, who wanted more. He increased his shipments to 400kg last year.

With the growing popularity of Ilam tea in Japan, he believes that the demand will skyrocket in the near future.

Originally, his plan was to purchase tea from Darjeeling, India and resell it in Japan as Japanese tea drinkers had knowledge of the high quality tea produced in the Indian hill station. When he arrived in Darjeeling, he heard about Ilam tea which was claimed to just as good as the tea grown in Darjeeling.

Back home, he had never heard of Nepali tea. He took a chance and bought 16kg of Ilam tea to test the market response in Japan. It was a roaring success, as fellow citizens encouraged him to import tea from Ilam.

Last year, he supplied 400kg of tea and sold it after repackaging in Nepal. The packets are clearly labelled ‘From Ilam’. He is promoting them as tea produced at high altitude. “In Japan, I promote it as tea grown at a height of 7500 feet,” said Thachuwa.

He is planning to increase the amount of Ilam tea that he purchases due to high demand in Japan.

 “Tea from Ilam is of very high quality,” he said. “But, the majority of Japanese do not know about the tea produced in Nepal while consumption of tea produced in India and Sri Lanka is high in Japan.”

Thachuwa is determined to promote Ilam tea in his country and is currently busy visiting various tea gardens and processing centres in Ilam. He is working together with Hari Gurung of Ilam Tea House to purchase the tea which gets processed by Sangrila, Aambate, Sagarmatha and Suryodaya processing centres.

Thachuwa is prioritising wholly organic tea and said the quality is key to tap the Japanese market. Till date, he exports varieties of orthodox tea like black, white, green and oolong tea produced in Ilam.

Ilam has impressed him so much that Thachuwa is planning to own a tea garden and processing centre. “As tea produced here is of high quality, it is not difficult to sell Ilam tea in Japan,” he said.

Published: 2018-06-20 08:39:13