I’d never heard of Nilgiri before so was curious to taste and learn more about this lesser-known Indian tea.
David Hepburn, who introduced me to a range of Jing oolong and puerh teas a few months ago, told us about his April visit to Tamil Nadu in Southern India and the resulting addition to Jing’s product range.
Jing were looking for a producer creating a high-quality, loose, whole-leaf tea that expresses the best characteristics of Nilgiri tea – a rich fragrance and full body.
The Coonoor Estate is located in ‘The Nilgiris’, which literally translates to ‘Blue Mountains’, named for a local shrub that blossoms once every twelve years, covering the hillsides in purple-blue flowers. The region offers a perfect climate for tea growing, but perhaps its teas have been undervalued – Nilgiri teas have predominantly been used in blends and teabags.
The Coonoor Estate tea plants grow in a 46-acre organic-certified plantation at an elevation of 6,500 feet. Producer, Indi Khanna, has a wealth of experience and knowledge and manages a highly skilled team working in a state-of-the-art purpose-built factory. We see pictures; it looks amazing!
The leaves of the resulting tea are exceptionally large and produce a wonderfully fragrant and rich-yet-light black tea with an appealing amber colour.
David recommends brewing a generous tablespoon or so of the tea for between two and two and a half minutes, though says it can be brewed a little stronger if you prefer.
The scent has hints of citrus; the taste is toffee rich. It’s delicious!
In the last couple of years, I’ve drunk far less black tea than I used to and far more oolong – I love it’s combination of freshness and richness and the merest hint of smokiness.
So it is genuinely quite a revelation to taste a black that so forcibly tempts me back to the world of black teas!
I figured I’d find it decent enough, but I really didn’t expect to fall in love with it.
Lucky me, then, that guests are sent off with goodie bags containing the Nilgiri Black as well as a fragrant Earl Grey. I can also pick up more for £7.00 a 50 gram pack.
One of the tea-based cocktails served during the evening; it was delicious but I can’t remember what it was
Whilst the oolongs and puerhs I tried with David a few months ago didn’t make a strong impression, this Nilgiri Black is really rather special and one I’m very happy to recommend.