History of TEA is one and half century old which was initiated by establishment of Ilam Tea Estate at Eastern Nepal in 1863 by Mr. Gajaraj Singh Thapa. It is believed that tea seeds gifted by Chinese Emperor to Prime Minister and de facto ruler Jung Bahadur Rana were germinated and tea bushes were planted there. It’s also the same era when the tea plantation was started in Darjeeling but lack up economic policy and global linkages under autocratic Rana rule further tea plantation was clogged in Nepal whereas expansion in Darjeeling was continuing under British rule.
After the democratic movement in 1951, door for public and private investment was opened and as a result first private sector tea garden in Jhapa was established in 1959 under the name of Bhudhakaran Tea Estate. Visioning better future prospects, in 1965 second Tea plantation Soktim Tea Estate was established in southern Ilam. For further expansion of Tea industry, Nepal Government established Nepal Tea Development Corporation (NTDC) in 1966. In initial days produced green leaves were sold to nearby Darjeeling factories but in 1978 first tea processing factory was established in Ilam Tea Estate and accordingly in Soktim Tea Estate after few years. At the same time Nepal Tea Development Corporation actively involved in encouraging participation of small farmers for the expansion of tea plantation so gradually the stagnant Tea industry started evolving into a fully commercialized industry, contributing the country’s economic and socio-economic development. To further promote Tea industry, in 1982 Government of Nepal under the reign of King Birendra Bir Bikram Shah Dev, declared five districts Jhapa, Ilam, Panchthar, Dhankutta & Terhathum as Tea Zones and announced Small Tea Farmers scheme with aid. Soon the farmers and private sector entrepreneurs got attracted and more organized tea estates, small farmers' tea garden started emerging and as a result current tea plantation has reached more than 28,000 hectares producing 25,000 MT teas annually.