India is the second-largest Tea producer in the world after China. Most know it as the home of Assam Tea and Darjeeling Tea, both of which remain ever-popular. However, from the rolling hills of Tamil Nadu, a state in South India, comes one particularly underrated infusion - Nilgiri Tea. The below will uncover the secrets of this beverage and why, despite its exceptional quality, it’s so unknown. We will explore all aspects of it from the landscapes it grows in, to the Nilgiri Tea taste when brewed.
High on the plateaus of South India, the Nilgiri Hills are part of the beautiful Western Ghats. This mountain range covers an area of 54,000 square miles (140,000 sq km), boasting many outstanding features including, of course, Tea. In fact, Nilgiri in India is the third-largest Tea-growing region in the country - despite few people knowing about it!
The word “Nilgiri” derives from the Sanskrit language, translated to mean “blue hill”. This name refers to the blueness of the Nilgiri Hills when, once every 7-12 years, Kurinji flowers blossom and carpet the landscape with vibrant colour.
Monsoon rain sweeps across the district during the mid-summer months, bringing life to the many producing Nilgiri Tea gardens. Unlike most Tea-growing regions in India, workers often harvest the leaves throughout winter, thus creating so-called “Frost Teas”. Approximately 80% of the cultivars used are Camellia sinensis var Assamica, similar to Assam and Kenya Tea.
Upon arriving at the factory, the product most often undergoes oxidation to create Nilgiri Black Tea. The CTC (“cut, tear, curl”) manufacturing method is the most common. Yet it’s worth noting that the vast majority of it only ever reaches the domestic market. Indeed, the rest of the world know little about Nilgiri Tea. Still, when brewed, it has notes reminiscent of Ceylon Tea, if slightly brisker and sweeter.
There are more than 30,000 Tea gardens in Nilgiri, some of which find themselves at remarkably high altitudes. Combined with the fertile soil of this region, such factors make for excellent growing. Some plantations like the Thiashola Estate (we have Nilgiri Tea Thiashola SFTGFOP1 from here) cover several hundred acres. Most, however, are no bigger than 25 acres.
Yet it’s not all good news. Despite the high number of growers, the industry is currently going through a difficult phase due to the abandonment of some gardens. The reason for this is partly because of a lack of investment in Nilgiri Hills Tea. As such, buying from us is one way of supporting each and every Nilgiri Tea plantation. It seems the industry needs all the help it can get.
Historically, Assam Tea was the first ever such beverage to originate from India. It was a Scottish explorer named Robert Bruce who discovered it growing in the Indian state of the same name. And now, around 200 years later, Assam Tea has also become the most popular from the country. But that doesn’t mean that Nilgiri should be overlooked! Indeed, like its Assamese counterpart, it has much to offer.
Tea first arrived in Nilgiri in 1835 (12 years after Assam Tea’s discovery) and has been commercially grown there since the 1850s. While Assam Tea has a distinctly malty taste, most describe brews from Nilgiri as slightly fruity and spicy. One thing both beverages have in common is Black Tea Health Benefits, which support health and wellbeing in a plethora of ways.
Indeed, according to scientific research, Nilgiri Tea, like any Black Tea, can improve life in small yet significant ways. Evidence indicates that providing one eats well and exercises plenty, it can improve heart health and reduce diabetes risks. Furthermore, Nilgiri Tea has the ability to enhance cognitive function, aid digestion and even promote weight loss.
One of the most important qualities to both Assam and Nilgiri Tea is their prevalence in caffeine. This is primarily due to the oxidation of the leaf, which, like most Black Teas, culminates in approximately 40-mg per 8-oz cup. Additionally, there are suggestions that the CTC method contributes to caffeine levels. As the tissue is broken during processing, the leaf reacts by releasing caffeine.
It’s worth noting that there are some who experience the Effects of Caffeine worse than others. People who’re caffeine sensitive, for example, often suffer from jitteriness and sleeplessness. If this is the case with you, consider trying one of our Decaf Teas or Coffees instead. Although trace amounts remain, the decaffeination process ultimately sees the product all but void of this stimulating chemical compound.
Are you interested in trying Nilgiri Tea for yourself? If so, look no further than here. Why not start with Nilgiri Tea GBOP, our ‘house’ Nilgiri? This particular beverage boasts a smoothness like no other, combined with delectable floral notes. It makes for an excellent choice no matter the time of year, and is also a great base ingredient for Iced Tea.
Alternatively, we have our delicious, invigorating Nilgiri Leaf Tea SFTGFOP1. This initially bewildering yet unmistakably essential term stands for “Super Fine Tippy Golden Flowery Orange Pekoe 1”. It refers to the structure of the tea leaf which, when brewed, has a bright copper liquor and a delicate, polished taste. Best of all, every sip of this beverage consists of alluring floral flavours that never cease to impress.
No matter which one you choose, The Kent and Sussex Tea and Coffee Company can guarantee not only quality but also consistency. We pack every Loose Tea, Tisane and Coffee fresh to order here at our Pluckley-based factory. Explore our expansive range today.