Nepalese tea found its way to Finland through Finnpartnership’s stand
1 June 2021
The Nepalese Gorkha Tea Estate got in contact with the Finnish tea sector through Finnpartnership’s Matchmaking service and is already delivering tea to two customers.
Over the course of two decades, Mr Udaya Chapagain built a thriving tea plantation and multi co-operative in Eastern Nepal, the products of which are now also available in Finland.
Urusha Chapagain, who is responsible for Gorkha Tea Estate’s marketing, explains that everything started in autumn 2019 at the Doing Business with Finland seminar organised by Finnpartnership, the Finnish embassy and the local chamber of commerce in the Nepalese capital of Kathmandu.
After the event, Gorkha registered for Finnpartnership’s Matchmaking service to look for Finnish business partners. Finnpartnership created a public profile in the Matchmaking database (on the Finnpartnership website) for the company.
In March 2020, Urusha and her parents Uma and Udaya Chapagain visited Finland and took part in the food and restaurant sector’s Gastro exhibition at Finnpartnership’s stand. During their trip, Finnpartnership also organised other meetings for them with experts from the tea sector.
“While in Finland, we had the opportunity to talk to buyers who were interested in our tea and to start doing business with them. The meetings brought us two Finnish customers, and we have been delivering tea to Finland regularly since then,” Urusha Chapagain says.
Focusing on quality over quantity
Gorkha Tea Estate is located in Sunderpani, Fikkal, Ilam, in Eastern Nepal. The area is not far from Darjeeling, one of India’s most well-known tea growing regions.
The tea plantation started in 1995. Located approximately 1,700 metres above sea level, the area is perfect for growing tea. The production started in 2009.
“The young plants growing in the virgin soil produce high-quality black, green and white tea. Our products have several international organic certifications.”
Gorkha Tea Estate is a co-operative, and the Chapagains own 40 hectares of the company’s cultivated land, with the remaining 150 hectares divided among 280 other growers.
“Our annual production is about 70 tonnes of tea. On the scale of Nepalese growers, we are a medium-sized producer. We focus on quality over quantity and encourage growers to produce high-quality tea leaves by giving them the best possible price for their products,” Chapagain explains.
Additional income for local growers
In recent years, Gorkha Tea Estate has strived to improve the income of growers and their families by giving away 50 cows and 80 cowsheds.
“Families can gain additional income by producing dairy products. Additionally, the manure can be used as fertiliser for growing tea.”
Recently, 125 small biogas production plants have also been installed. Training in composting and producing biogas has also been provided.
“The gas can be used to prepare food, which means families don’t have to buy bottled gas. This also reduces the use of firewood, which helps control deforestation.” The biogas slurry is used in the farm as manure.
Finally, travel services in which families provide accommodation for travellers visiting the area are being developed to provide additional income for local residents.
Two customers in Finland
Gorkha Tea Estate exports tea to a number of countries, including Germany, Japan and the United States. They currently have two customers in Finland.
One of these customers is the tea shop TakeT which, in addition to selling tea online, also has shops in Jyväskylä and Tampere. Entrepreneur Anu Tummavuori explains that the business relationship began after Finnpartnership contacted them.
“We immediately got excited about the opportunity to get hand-grown Nepalese tea from a smaller supplier that gives the growers fair compensation for their labour. We were in the midst of looking for high-quality products from Nepal, so everything lined up perfectly,” Tummavuori says.
Gorkha sent a large number of sample batches to Finland, and TakeT selected the ones they liked the most. According to Tummavuori, the tea sold out quickly.
“Customers have told us that Gorkha’s tea is the best they’ve ever had. We tried to order more tea from Nepal in autumn, but they had unfortunately sold out. We’ve already placed an order for this year’s harvest.”
Entrepreneur Xinyuan Sui of teashop TeeMaa also learned of Gorkha’s tea products through Finnpartnership. The company sells Gorkha’s black and white teas online and at their shop in Helsinki.
“We’ve received positive feedback about the tea and decided to order more of it this year. It’s always great to do business directly with tea growers. It lets us know how the tea we sell is grown,” Xinyuan Sui explains.
Urusha Chapagain says that Finnpartnership’s service has helped the company strengthen its business activities by finding new customers and created a good basis to build partnerships on.
“We hope to find more customers for our various types of tea in Finland in the future. If at all possible, we would like to invite our Finnish customers to visit the tea plantation and get to know our production process and the local travel opportunities.”
See Gorkha Tea Estate’s Matchmaking profile here.
Picture: Gorkha Tea Estate