The famous triad of Indian teas
Indian teas are classified by the areas where they are grown. Though fine teas are cultivated in many estates located in little-known and rarely accessed regions, the famous triad of Indian teas comprises of Darjeeling, Assam and the Nilgiri hills.
Darjeeling a contraction of the Tibetan ,’Dorje’ and ‘Ling’ means ‘land of the thunderbolt.’ This pretty hill station situated at 6,000 feet on a spur of the Himalayan foothills, commands on a clear day an awe inspiring view of the majestic Kanchenjunga range. Its fertile black soil is also home to the world’s most exquisite teas.
82 evocatively named estates at altitudes of 1800 to 6500 feet cluster in seven picturesque valleys of the Darjeeling hills.
Plant genes, soil chemistry, elevation and a cultural environment of sun, cloud and ethereally moving mists gives the exquisitely delicate tea its inimitable aromatic complexity.
Assam means ‘Peerless’. This remote North eastern Indian state is girded on the north and West by mountainous tracks inhabited by hill tribes. The first consumers of Assam tea were in fact the indigenous ‘singpho’ tribes near whose homes the Assam tea bush was first discovered.
Assam resonates with romantic first memories of man’s pioneering efforts to cultivate tea for worldwide commerce. In 1834 British pioneers planted the first tea seed here in the world’s first experimental estate. The eco-region of this ‘greenhouse’ state, irrigated by one of the world’s most spectacular river systems is rich in wildlife. June through September, the monsoons funnel 180 inches of rain into the area. Rain and rich soils join to create a lushness of taste unequalled in the world of teas.
Assam leaves carry large amounts of downy silvertips containing juices that convert to gold during manufacture. These prized golden tips particularly of second flush Assams creative vigorous, highly brightly coloured cup with a mouth-filling malty taste.
Situated in the Southern tip of the country, ‘Nilgiri’ which translates into ‘Blue Mountains’ refers to the delicate blue of the eucalyptus foliage which colours these gentle hills. Here 60,350 small estates spread out in the neat dense swathes at elevations of up to 7000 feet.
Nilgiri teas are ideal for iced teas and for creating popular oolong and green varieties that do not easily spoil in the cup from over-steeping. Their innate ability not to cloud makes them a perfect choice for iced tea. And their soft fragrance is an ideal base for flavours, scents and fruits.
Nilgiri teas bear geographic, cultural and aromatic affinities to the finest Ceylon teas, which are their closest parallel.
A clear copper-gold colour, brisk liquor and gentle fragrance define the Nilgiri cup.
Signature Tea Estates Warehouse, Kolkata, India
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