Rakura is the fruition of one man’s lifetime of deliberations, values and abilities devoted to the purpose and sustainability of Himalayan tea.
Born into a family of a well-heeled textile merchant, founder Ram Kumar Rathi (RaKuRa) was soon left to fend for himself along with his family at a tender age of 12, after a huge fire gutted everything they owned, to the ground. With his family struggling to put food on the table, he set out to sell newspapers but was instead offered a job as a minder due to his indomitable manner. Working through various jobs, he finally decided to do something on his own with all the money that he had collected – NPR 500 (roughly $5 in today’s exchange value). He gradually established an import firm and did well in the business. However, fate had something else in store for him. On a chance travel to China in 1966, courtesy of a friend, he discovered the rich world of Tea.
Returning home tea-struck, he quickly set upon understanding more about the drink by trekking through the tea growing regions of Jhapa and Ilam in eastern Nepal. Although, he was only able to make his and Nepal’s first sale of tea abroad, in the summer of 1973 – he absorbed everything about tea in the mean time, training under the Master tea tasters & blenders at DC Ghoshe and J. Thomas. He also learned and researched directly under experts from Darjeeling and Assam to understand the art of tea making. Once ample knowledge was gained, the founder worked relentlessly with state-owned estates like Ilam, Kanyam and Himalaya to improve the quality of Nepalese tea by steadily bringing their production and sale under his realm.
In 1993, Rakura established its and Nepal’s first private orthodox tea factory in the serene village of Maloom, Ilam with a view of presenting the world with Nepal’s best orthodox black and green teas. A second factory was set up in the plains of Jhapa to serve Nepal’s finest CTC black tea offerings. All this integrated with the support and unity of the communities that we operate in. These ventures ensured successful export of Nepalese tea in both, packages and bulk to multi-nationals as well as reputed tea connoisseurs around the world. Today, Rakura’s teas are also retailed at various high-end tea stores located in several countries – under Rakura’s estate name, Maloom Tea. Over 40 years on, Rakura with the support of our over 1600 small farmers, is privileged to be known as the oldest exporter and leading manufacturer, blender and packager of finer quality teas in Nepal.
Concurrently, around the beginning of this decade, we started asking ourselves numerous questions on the lasting sustainability of Himalayan tea. It was realized that although Nepal makes some of the best teas in the world, we were nowhere in the minds of the end consumer. Most people didn’t even know we produced tea, let alone amongst the finest in the world. The reasons were obvious; our teas had always either been blended into other finer teas of the world or sold singularly as high-end teas at a huge premium without any mention of its origins. Even the Nepalese teas retailed in domestic market were not helping, lacking quality regulations; they were either sold as unbranded loose teas, novelty products or as brands that were inadequate. This practice was continually robbing Nepalese tea producing community of a fair price, progressive development and more importantly in the long term, brand significance. Unlike other finer tea producing countries of the world that were spending billions in branding activities, Nepalese tea growing communities were striving to sustain themselves – largely due to the absence of support, regulations and resources.
It was while answering these questions that we envisaged Rakura. A brand that would encompass the nation’s finest teas and work towards promoting and creating more appreciation on a collective level, around the globe. We understood it would not be easy but nothing we’d done since 1973 ever was. It would have to stand tall amidst the finest brands of the world and yet be different. A vision that would create lasting sustainability and rejuvenate the whole Nepalese tea market. We started afresh once again, to completely change the experience and perception of Nepalese teas.
Rakura brand of teas was introduced in late December 2012, embracing design standards, raw materials and teas never achieved before in Nepal, hence truly revolutionizing our tea industry and giving it new direction. Today, with every single step, we look to break new ground. This vision continues to be Rakura’s commitment in creating new out of the box consumer experiences for Nepalese tea while driving a culture for sustainability and innovation.