Ugyen C Penjor

When Wangchuk Kinga’s H-1B visa term expired in 2003, he was offered a Green Card – a permit to live and work permanently in the US. His experience in organic farming, particularly in growing culinary herbs was a rare skill.

But Kinga chose to return to his country and start his own venture. After working on his farmland for some years, the Class X dropout started his own business of producing locally grown and made green tea, marketed under the Bhutan Herbal Tea brand. Today four tea varieties – Chamomile, Mint, Lemon Verbena, and Sea Berry are produced.

As an expert on herbs, Kinga claims that the herbs that he grows at higher altitudes have elevated levels of volatile oil compounds due to their slower growth process. “These unique attributes are because of factors such as temperature, air pressure, and soil composition, enabling the herbs to develop deeper flavours and more concentrated essential oils,” he said.

Wangchuk Kinga at a business exhibition in Bangladesh

Kinga got an opportunity to hone his skills when he received a scholarship to study farming organic herbs in Switzerland in 1999, for three years. After completing his studies, after a one-year internship, he worked for six years at the Chef Garden in the U.S. as part of the International Paid Agriculture Exchange Programs (CAEP).

Kinga said that his herbal teas come in a variety of packages that are perfect for daily use or as gifts and souvenirs. Claimed to be the only herbal tea farm and producer in the country, his venture is a popular destination for connoisseurs and tourists.

With Bhutan already known for its medicinal herbs, his goal is to establish a Bhutanese brand name for premium herbal tea for a wider global market.

Today, he sees an opportunity to enter the market by focusing on Southeast Asia, where high tea consumption is a part of the culture. A report by IFOAM Organics International states that people in China consume approximately 50 percent of the total green tea produced worldwide.

Japan is the second-largest consumer of green tea, consuming 80,000 tons of green tea annually. Indonesia and Vietnam are also significant consumers of green tea, with approximately 30,000 tons and 20,000 tons consumed per year, respectively.

Meanwhile, Kinga’s long-term goal is to start large-scale production of Green Tea by involving the whole community in the plantation of herbs by providing technical support.

Bhutan Herbal Tea began in 2011 when an experimental garden was established at the Yusipang RNR-RC center. After four years of research and development, Bhutan Herbal Tea was officially launched in 2016. In 2017, product testing at the SGS food testing lab in Taiwan found no harmful substances in the tea. The following year, the founder was awarded the LOAS (local organic assurance system) from the National Organic Programme, and in 2019, he was named Rural Entrepreneur of the Year by the then Ministry of Economic Affairs.

In 2020, he received the National Organic Certificate from the then BAFRA, and in 2023, Bhutan Herbal Tea was certified as a Brand Bhutan.

The plantation area at Krongmanba, Bumthang spans six acres and specialises in premium herbal tea grown in a pollution-free environment amidst the pristine blue pine forests.