Tea is a beverage from the leaves of tea plants. In Nepal, tea produced is fruity in taste. It is same in appearance, aroma and taste that of Darjeeling tea as the geographical and topological conditions in eastern region of Nepal and Darjeeling is same. In Nepal, teas are categorized into two types:

i. Orthodox tea
This type of tea is hand processed or by rolling it in the machines which mimics the hand rolling techniques. E.g.: Green tea, oolong tea, white tea, etc. It is produced and processed in the mountainous regions of Nepal at an altitude ranging from 3000-7000 feet above the sea level. It is produced in six district of Nepal namely Ilam, Panchthar, Dhankuta, Terathum, Sindhupalchowk, and Kaski.
ii. CTC (Crush, Tear, Curl) tea
This type of tea is processed in three steps namely Crush, Tear, and Curl. CTC tea is produced in lower altitudes in the fertile plains of Nepal, which are warm and humid, primarily in the Jhapa district. It accounts for almost 95% of the domestic consumption, owing to its cost of production, which is much less comparatively to that of the orthodox tea.

Climate
The favorable condition for cultivation of tea is moderately hot and humid climate. Climate affects the yield, quality and crop distribution. Tea grows well on well-drained fertile acid soil on high lands. So, it is cultivated in the slopes of hills for proper drainage. The acidic pH in the soil should be ranging from 4.5 to 5.5 and more than 2% organic matter.
Tea generally grows in a diverse range of climates, but its quality is governed by a host of factors which include rainfall, sunshine, temperature, relative humidity and wind.

The Nursery

The tea plants are raised from the tea seeds which is known as seedlings. Each plant grew its own seed bearers in tea trees, which grow up to a height of about 50 feet. Then the young plants are raised from cuttings obtained from a mother brush, which is strong, rich plant specifically selected for propagation.
The cuttings are planted in polythene sleeves filled with soil. Bracken shades are often used to shade the young plants and protect them from the wind, while irrigation trenches are dug to provide water. When the plants are approximately 9 - 12 months of age, they are ready to be re-planted in the tea fields. Great care is taken to prepare the soil in the areas due to be re-planted to prevent the spread of diseases and to ensure that the soil is as fertile as possible.

Cultivation

The young plants prepared in nursery are then re-planted in the tea field. The pits and the subsidiary drains should be filled up with soil and the land should be leveled by hand hoeing or mechanically. After leveling the land, drains are dug and the area is put under rehabilitation crops for at least two years.
The plants are planted between 3-5 feet apart. Artificial or cattle manure is necessary in order to preserve the bushes in a healthy and vigorous condition. Maintaining soil condition is a vital element to tea propagation. It takes approximately 2-3 years, depending on the elevation and climatic conditions, before these plants are ready to produce tea.


Shade and Shade trees

Planting a number of leguminous trees for the provision of moderate shade to tea areas is beneficial for health and productivity of tea bushes. Shading protects the plants from excessive heat and light radiation. Leaf fall adds the organic matter.


Manuring

It is recommended to apply N and K fertilizers in two splits if the dose exceeds 100 kg/ha. The 60% of the dose of N and K should be applied in March-April (1st split) and the second split (i.e. the remaining 40%) should be applied in August-September. The sulphur should be applied at 20 kg/ha. Zinc Sulphate should not to exceed 12.5 kg/ hectare/year, which is to be applied in 4-6 sprays (1-2% concentrations) in early (March onwards; 2-3 sprays) and late season (September onwards; 2-3 sprays).


Pruning

When the young plant in the field gets developed to a height of half meter above the ground level, it is cut back (i.e. pruned) to within a few inches off the ground to set it on course to develop into a flat-topped bush. Once fully developed, a tea bush is approximately 1 meter in height, and continues to be pruned in cycles of 1-2 years at low altitude and 3-5 years at higher altitudes. The timing of pruning is also dependent on the rainfall, as it is essential that there is sufficient moisture in the soil. The objectives for cyclical pruning of fully developed and yielding tea bushes are:

To stimulate shoot growth:
The tea bush is pruned to encourage the growth of new shoots or 'flush'. Regular pruning also prevents flowering and fruit formation. Additionally, pruning creates a wider flat-top bush which in turn increases the number of plucking points per tea bush.
To maintain a healthy frame
To maintain a convenient height for easy harvesting:
The growth of the tea bush has to be modified in order to create a low, flat, wide bush so as to make it easily accessible for picking.


Plucking

The harvesting is done from the mature tea bushes. Each pluck takes only the flush of two tender leaves and bud of tender and succulent fresh growth. After 7-10 days, the bushes grow new shoots and are then re-plucked. This skilled job is traditionally carried out by women who are adept at picking the shoots, breaking them off by twisting the leaves and bud with their fingers and deftly throwing handfuls of shoots into the carrier baskets resting on their backs. Taking two leaves shoots and end bud constitutes fine plucking and this forms good quality tea, while four leaves and the bud forms coarse plucking and yields tea of lower quality.
Between 2000-3000 thousand leaves are needed to produce just one kilo of unprocessed tea, which is an indication of the enormous quantities of leaf that is plucked each day.
Once picked, the fresh leaf is weighed and transported to the tea factory.