The final major tea-producing region of India is Nilgiri. Unlike Assam and Darjeeling teas, which are both grown in the North-Eastern arm of India, Nilgiri tea is grown in the South-Eastern point in the hills of the Nilgiris district of Tamil Nadu province. The history of tea in the Nilgiris district is somewhat less robust in comparison with that of Assam and Darjeeling, but the region is indisputably important to India’s tea production and the teas produced there retain a range of recognizably “Nilgiri” flavor characteristics. At least half of all tea grown in Nilgiri is exported, and the vast majority of tea is grown by small farms and sold to separately-owned factories for processing. Nilgiri tea’s highland-grown leaves produce dark amber liquor and characteristics that are roughly describable as between those of Assam and Darjeeling.

We carry two Nilgiri blacks at Miro Tea; I chose our Corsley Estate Nilgiri–like both Darjeelings and Assams, each Nilgiri is usually named for the estate of its origin. As you can see in the picture, this tea has the largest, most complete leaves of the three teas featured so far. A larger leaf profile is generally referred to as “Orange Pekoe” (pronounced peck-oh), usually abbreviated OP, or BOP if the leaves are more “Broken.” A piece of leaf stem is also visible in the dry leaves–the occasional by-product of machine processing and sorting.

After I added hot water to the leaves, a powerful woody, honey-like aroma emerged from the cup. Tasting the liquor, I found a very comforting blend of honey sweetness (reminiscent very much of honey’s distinct flavor, as opposed to the experience of consuming honey) and a mellow, fleeting plum-like overtone. My overall instinct was to contrast this tea with the Satrupa Marangi Assam–this Nilgiri posesses a thinner liquor with a lighter mouth feel, none of the sharp notes of the Assam (much more rounded), and a noticeable drop in complexity. I also noticed that the tea’s aftertaste was really present on the breath, but wasn’t nearly as lasting as that of the Darjeeling I tasted, disappearing quickly until being renewed by another sip. This is a really pleasing tea to drink, but doesn’t really posses the kind of depth that necessitates close attention. These characteristics make Nilgiris great morning and everyday teas, because they’re always pleasant and won’t be spoiled if you have to concentrate on something else while you’re drinking them. Tney also make excellent iced teas–the round, malty sweetness of black tea, without the potential harshness that can be found in Assams makes for perfect iced tea.

Elliot