After more than 150 years of tea production, Nepal is to get its own logo, or trademark, for its orthodox tea. The trademark will be unveiled in late March at the country’s third International Tea Festival. It is a result of considerable efforts of the Nepal Tea and Coffee Development Board under the Ministry of Agricultural Development, along with tea associations such as the Himalayan and Orthodox Tea Producers Association (HOTPA), and experts in the field.
The trademark displays an image of mountains and the words “Nepali Tea Quality from the Himalaya.” The Ministry has issued a directive with standards for the use of the logo, including that the produced tea must be fully organic.
“The quality of tea produced, employment security of the workers, and sensitivity toward environmental protection must be met in order to use the logo,” said HOTPA CEO Chandra Bhushan Subba.
Branding, copyrights, and intellectual property are new concepts to Nepal, where as much as 80 percent of its tea crosses the border to India to be processed as Indian tea, and is then exported to foreign markets as Darjeeling.
“This helps carve out a niche for Nepalese tea and provides a distinguishing mark that it has never had before,” says Jeni Dodd, CEO and Founder of Jeni’s Teas, a New York-based company that sources tea from Nepal (and elsewhere). Dodd has been integral in the push to educate Nepalese growers to the concept of trademarking what they have. “I think it’s really difficult for a single farmer from Nepal to really assert themselves in the world market, but now they can be part of this group identity and this rare and unique tea from the Himalayas can get its place and due respect.”
Dodd, who will attend the upcoming International Tea Festival and a high-profile event to mark the launch of the trademark at the base camp of Mount Everest, believes that having the mark will open up markets in the West and raise awareness that Nepal has its own very distinct tea, separate from neighboring Darjeeling.
“Many people consider Nepali tea as some of the world’s finest but getting the word out has been a challenge,” says Nepali Tea Traders founder Maggie LeBeau. “The logo is a critical milestone in a long journey for Nepal to become a well-respected and recognized tea origin.”
By staking their claim as Nepali tea, local growers will gain not only credit for their output but pricing power as well, she says.
“Nepal has been working hard to build a sustainable tea economy,” says LeBeau. “This is an exciting development that will legitimize Nepal as a producer and hopefully bring them front and center as far as consumer trends and availability to western resellers of the tea.”