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Nilgiri Tea

Brewing Hints: Brew for about four minutes with freshly boiled water

Leaf: Golden Broken Orange Pekoe (Medium Sized Leaves)

Origin: The Nilgiri Hills in South India

Characteristics: A flavoury tea, reminiscent of Ceylon Orange Pekoe, with slightly brisker, sweeter overtones

Serving Suggestions: Drink either without milk or with just a splash. An ideal accompaniment with afternoon sandwiches.

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Product Description

We have seen several different descriptions of the flavour and characteristics of Nilgiri tea on other tea retailer’s websites. These range from describing as intense, dark and flavoursome, through to light and refreshing. The reason for these descriptions is due to Nilgiri teas being cultivated over a very large geographical area and at many different altitudes, using different varietals of tea bush.

The tea is grown in the Nilgiri of Tamil Madu as well as further south in areas like Munnar and Travancore and throughout Kerala State. The traditional factory and large plantation model of growing tea accounts for only about 30% of total Nilgiri tea production. The remaining 70% of Nilgiri is produced by smallholders who typically have less than 4 acres of land to grow their tea on. Many of these smallholders belong to a community called the Badagas who are known for their farming skills. Many will take their leaf to independent tea factories that are not attached to large estates which are called Bought Leaf Factories. These factories then sell their tea through local auctions.

Over 50% of Nilgiri tea is exported from India and its buyers purchase it for both use in blends and to sell as single origin or single area tea. Nilgiri produces both Orthodox (large leaf) and CTC (small leaf).

Historically (pre-1917) Nilgiris biggest customer by far was the Russian Aristocracy who enjoyed and wrote about the dark pungent strength and delightful aroma of Nilgiri tea. However with the collapse of the Russian Autocracy, farmers in Nilgiri had to seek new customers for their teas, this led to different plantations and various small-holders either closing or having to change the way their tea tasted to match the demands of their new drinkers.

Our description of Nilgiri is that it is a light, sweet aromatic tea that is perfect to drink without milk and can be enjoyed throughout the day. However, we also appreciate it is possible to source stronger or milder teas that can still be called Nilgiris teas and the source we use is based on the tastes of my Father and Grandfather. Whilst this description hopefully goes somewhere to explaining the wide variety of description of Nilgiri teas, the truth is there are wide variations on the same theme depending on where and who one buys ones tea from.

We purchase Nilgiri GBOP (Golden Broken Orange Pekoe) from Havakaul, Glendale and Tiger Hill Estates and have done for many years. So the flavour of our Nilgiri is light, sweet and aromatic.

 

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