Nilgiri Blue Black Tea from The Tao of Tea

NilgiriBlueTea Information:

Leaf Type:  Black

Where to Buy: The Tao of Tea

Tea Description:

The Nilgiris or Blue Mountains are a range of mountains in the South Indian states of Tamil Nadu and Kerala. Tea culture is eminent in these serene mountains. Tea is grown at elevations of 1000 to 2500 metres. The landscape is quite unlike the rest of India, marked by rolling hills covered with dense vegetation and tea gardens. Many portions of the hills are preserved as natural reserve forests.

High Elevation
Nilgiri Blue is a high elevation tea (Grown at 6500 feet) in Coonoor, South India. High elevation tea plants grow slower and generally provide lighter, more refined flavors.

100% Organic
The tea garden is recognized as one of India’s premier organic tea estates. Established in 1922, it remains firmly committed to sustainable cultivation methods and conservation of the local ecosystems.

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review:

It’s been a while since I tried a Nilgiri tea, so I’m hoping this will be a pleasant re-acquaintance. The dry leaf is light and feathery in appearance, and is the reddish brown colour of polished mahogany. The leaves are fairly small – around 0.5cm or smaller for the most part. I used 1 tsp of leaf for my cup, and gave it 3 minutes in boiling water. The resulting liquor is a medium red-brown, the scent sweet and a touch woody. I made no additions for my first cup.

Initially, all I could taste was a fairly generic sweet “black” tea. It reminded me of nothing in particular, except perhaps big-brand bagged tea of the kind that’s sold in supermarkets and cafes. It’s sweet, but in a way that’s woodsy rather than malty, and it seems thin tasting and lacking in depth. With successive sips, I can taste a hint of flavours characteristic of Darjeeling – a mild metallic tang, a very light floral. They’re by no means strong or particularly prominent, though. For the most part, this tea is smooth throughout, although it is a little drying in the aftertaste. Not to the extent that I’d call it astringent, because it lacks bite, but heading in that direction.

I wanted more from this one, and I have to confess I’m a little disappointed with how it turned out. I would have liked to have seen stronger flavours, more body; something to provide a little more definition. As it stands, this comes across as a pretty ordinary, standard black tea. It’s easy to drink and pleasant enough, but it’s not got a great deal of character. There’s nothing here that you couldn’t find elsewhere, and for that reason it wouldn’t find a long term place in my cupboard.

Tippy South Cloud from The Tao of Tea

Tea Information:

Leaf Type:  Black

Where to Buy:  The Tao of Tea

Product Description:

Made at a 100% organic tea garden with a mix of black and gold tipped leaves. The golden color emerges during processing and after accurate withering, moisture drying of the leaves. Few areas in Yunnan contain these type of plants. Other areas known to have golden tipped varietals Hunan and Fujian in China and Assam in India.

Taster’s Review:

This is an incredible Yunnan!

The aroma is delightful.  This is one of those teas that you want to take a moment to inhale the fragrance of the tea before taking a sip, allowing the aroma to permeate the senses.

The flavor is rich and smooth.  There is a delicious malty overtone.  There is a beautiful sweetness as well as a savory note that hits just before the tail-end of the sip.  The aftertaste is both sweet and savory.

This is a tea that I would recommend sipping on a Saturday morning (perhaps for brunch?)  It has a strength that is good for morning (or possibly early afternoon), but it isn’t one of those “get-up-and-go” kind of teas, it’s one of those “sit-back-and-enjoy-life” kind of teas.

Another amazing tea from The Tao of Tea!

Malty Assam from The Tao of Tea

Tea Information:

Leaf Type:  Black

Where to Buy:  The Tao of Tea

This tea is found on the Fair Trade Certified page on the Tao of Tea website.

Product Description:

Origin: India

Introduction: The region of Assam is the largest tea producing region in the world and home to some of the best black teas from India. It lies 120 miles East of Darjeeling (a high elevation tea growing area), and borders with China, Burma, and Bangladesh. The distinct tea varietal growing in Assam is the Camellia Assamica, a relatively larger leaf tea plant.

Flavor Profile: Rich, malty brew with a slight caramel sweetness.

Taster’s Review:

Assam teas are among the most temperamental teas out there, and because of that, they are sometimes avoided by tea drinkers.  And that’s just sad!  What an amazing flavor these tea lovers are missing!

Assam teas generally do require a bit of “babysitting” while brewing.  It is important not to over-steep the leaves.  Even just a few seconds of extra brew time can mean the difference between a delicious cup of tea and a disastrously bitter cup of tea.  I’ve also found that pulling the kettle just a moment before it reaches the full boiling point helps (for those of you who are lucky enough to have a variable temperature tea kettle:  set the desired temperature to 205° F)

Diligence does pays off, and this is so true when it comes to Assam.  The flavor of a properly prepared Assam is so rewarding!

This Malty Assam from The Tao of Tea is nothing short of spectacular.  Generally it is the malty quality of an Assam that is most desired when it comes to Assam, and this Assam is the maltiest that I’ve yet to taste.  This is so rich and almost decadent!

This is certainly not your typical Assam, though.  While it is malty, there is an amazing set of flavors to this tea that set it apart from the other Assam teas out there.  The tea starts out bold, but it is a smoother boldness than I’m used to with an Assam.  This is a little less rugged.  It has an undertone of sweetness that is similar to caramel.

And here is where it gets really interesting:  towards the middle of the sip there is a hint of bitterness to it.  It is ever so faint, and if you aren’t paying particular attention, you might miss it!  It isn’t that “I oversteeped the tea” kind of bitterness I was mentioning earlier.  This is more of a “let’s keep it interesting” savory note that cuts through the somewhat heavier tones of the tea.  And it does keep it interesting, indeed!

But even more intriguing than that is this “salty” note that I get just as the bitterness makes its quick appearance.  It is a flavor profile that I don’t ever remember tasting in a tea that I’ve not salted myself.  It isn’t a disturbing or distasteful flavor – in fact, I rather like it.  It is just very unexpected.

This is an Assam that I would recommend to all tea drinkers, if for no other reason than to experience these tantalizing nuances.  This is an exceptional Assam!