My tasting notes: Nilgiri Blue Mountain Frost Tea
Darjeeling and Assam are the most renowned tea producing regions in India, but they are not the only ones. The tea I’m tasting today comes from the Nilgiris or Blue Mountains in the state of Tamil Nadu, in Southern India. According to the Indian tea association, Nilgiri tea accounts for about 10% of the total tea production of India.
The Nilgiris are called the Blue Mountains because of a shrub, Strobilanthes kunthianus, also known as Kutinji which blooms once every 12 years, covering the hills with blue flowers. After a quick search, I discovered that 2018 is the year the shrubs are blooming again and the hills are expected to turn blue from July to October. That must be an incredible experience!
Nilgiri Blue Mountain frost tea is harvested in winter. Frost is a stress factor for the tea plants, which develop different compounds as a defense mechanism. Those compounds usually mean a more complex flavor. I got this tea as a present from some family members and it comes from Austrian tea purveyor Demmers Teehaus. I brewed it comparatively in a gaiwan (less water, more leaves) and Western style (more water, less leaves) to better understand its nuances.
Tea Name: Nilgiri Blue Mountain frost tea
Ingredients: black tea
Preparation Method: porcelain gaiwan VS Western method
Leaves/Water Ratio: 6 gr to 5 fl oz (150 ml) VS 3 gr to 10.8 fl oz (320 ml)
Water Temperature: 195 F / 90 C
Steep Time: 1 minute + 1 minute (2 steeps, gaiwan) VS 4 minutes (Western method)
dry leaves: small leaves rolled lengthwise, up to 0.9 inches (2.5 cm) long, dark grey with black and dark brown hues, a few fuzzy buds, a few moss green leaves and leaf fragments
wet leaves: moss green with golden and rusty bits
liquor: light orange with yellow hues
dry leaves: aromatic, sweet notes. When evaluated in a warm gaiwan: notes of dark chocolate, dates and berries
wet leaves: vegetal notes and fruity tart notes of berries
liquor: fruity and chocolatey with faint floral notes
liquor: (gaiwan) highlights the pepperiness and astringency, little to no bitterness, some fruity and floral notes at the back of the mouth, returning aromas. (Western method) sweeter and smoother.
MOUTHFEEL: medium bodied, mineral, lingering citrus aftertaste
FOOD PAIRING: Dandelion Maya Mountain (Belize) 70% chocolate. Its tasting notes read: “hints of honey and caramel with notes of strawberries and cream”. Perfect to play with those berry hints in the tea and to mellow out the tart notes.
OVERALL IMPRESSION: on the nose, it reminds me of a Taiwanese Sun Moon Lake black tea but palate and body are unmistakably those of an Indian tea. Delicious.
Disclaimer: I was not paid to mention or review businesses, products or services. This is my honest opinion.