The Nilgiris also known as the blue mountains, are part of the Western Ghats and lie in the southern state of India Tamil Nadu. The fascinating thing about the Nilgiris is that the saxe-blue kurinji flowers also called Strobilanthes, which blooms here every 12 years and that’s why they are named the blue mountains. Though filled with flora and fauna, the Nilgiri’s claim to fame is their flavourful tea. Know as the third cousin in terms of popularity, in comparison to Assam and Darjeeling but is slowly gaining its audience. With a perfect balance of color, strength, and astringency, Nilgiri’s tea is a favorite among regulars tea drinkers and tea connoisseurs alike.
How Tea Was Introduced To The Nilgiri’s
Following the 4th Anglo Indian war of 1799, when Tipu Sultan was defeated and the Nilgiris was ceded over to the British East India company was when the blue hills were introduced to tea. Despite this, it was years before it was used for plantations. In 1819 when John Sullivan put a petition out to the government in Madras asking them to create a sanatorium was the beginning of tea plantations in the hills. In 1833, Dr. Christie, an assistant surgeon from Madras when she visited the hills, suggested the seeds to be planted in the hills. Over the years with trial and error, continuous innovation, and experiments the leaves grown here were finally sent to London’s Mincing Lane to be auctioned.
`The Tea Estates Of Nilgiri’s
The estates in Nilgiri’s produce some of the best quality teas in the country and just like Rome, it wasn’t built in a day. The first tea seeds were sown in the hills in the year 1835, at Ketti. Dunsandle and Thiashola were the first commercial tea plantations set up in the year 1859. Then in the year 1930 at a higher elevation, the Korakundah tea plantation was established which is the first estate in the Nilgiri’s to obtain Organic Certification. Other tea states include Korakundah which was the first Nilgiris estate o be awarded the ISO 14001: 1996 special certification, the Thiashola estate that also won the Organic Certification in the year 2003, because of its efforts continuity in tea cultivation and demonstration of Altered & Advanced tea cultivation methods.
The Flavors of the Nilgiri's Tea
The tea leaves produced in these hills are hand-sorted, whole-leaf, and some of them are pekoe cut black tea and orange pekoe. The orange pekoes are medium grade and consist of many whole tea leaves of a specific size whereas the pekoe consists of young tea leaves and buds and is much finer. The blue mountains also produce some exceptional varieties of green, white, and oolong tea as well.
Flavors of the Nilgiri’s Tea.
Tea at the Nilgiri hills is grown at a height of 1,000 to 2,500 meters above sea level in an area that gets 60 inches to 90 inches of rainfall every year. Tea produced here is highly aromatic, flavorful, and has lingering notes of flowers and tropical fruit.