Today’s review will focus on the OP Superior Grade Black Tea from the Craigmore Plantations, located in the Nilgiri Hills of the state of Tamil Nadu, southern India.
The Craigmore Plantations were originally established in 1884 under the name Ceylon Land and Produce Company. It was not until 1977 that the business was renamed the Craigmore Plantations (India) Private Limited. The plantations consist of 1,200 hectares (2,965 acres) of land. Only high grown orthodox black teas and pan-fired green teas are produced at Craigmore by it’s 1,400 workers. The plantations and factory are located at an elevation of about 1,675 meters (5,500 feet). The Craigmore Plantation Factory produces the high-grown orthodox black teas, while the Pascoe Woodlands Factory produces the high-grown pan-fired green teas.
Craigmore Plantations carries the following certifications: Rainforest Alliance, UTZ, Ethical Tea Partnership, and Global GAP. All teas meet or exceed the European Union requirements for pesticide residue limits.
The sample packet has been opened, and woody, spicy scents are escaping the packet. Let the journey begin…
The dry leaves have a uniform black color, with reddish-brown stems, and a few gold buds. The leaves are all medium sized fragments, and are machine rolled. The size and shape of the leaves are consistent, with very few crumbs or small fragments in the mix. There is a considerable amount of bare stems. The leaves are very dry, and crack easily into coarse crumbs. The smell carries scents of dry wood, cardamom, pepper, light malt, hay, and light raisin. Overall, the smell is very woody and spicy.
Three grams of dry leaves were placed in a five ounce (150 ml) porcelain infusion cup. Purified water was heated to 205°F (96°C). The leaves were infused for 4:00 minutes.
My suggestion for at home preparation is to use three grams of dry leaves for every six to eight ounces (180 to 240 ml) of water to be used. Heat water to 205°F (96°C). Steep the leaves for 3:00 to 4:00 minutes. Expect two infusions out of the same serving of leaves, and expect the second infusion to be significantly lighter than the first, but still worth drinking. Add 1:00 minute to the second infusion steep time.
The first infusion produced a liquor with a bright golden-orange color, clear and transparent. The aroma has scents of wood, cardamom, pepper, hay, lemongrass, and light malt. The body is medium, with a texture that is lively when the liquor is very hot, then gets smoother as the liquor cools. There is a mildly brisk character, and a lingering medium astringency. The taste has notes of wood, lemongrass, pepper, cardamom, hay, light malt, light valley flowers, and light lemon. The aftertaste carries the woody and lemony notes.
The infused leaves have a fairly uniform copper-brown color, with a few leaves being more green-brown. The leaves are almost entirely medium fragments, with a large fragment or two being found in the mix, as well as a few buds. There is a considerable amount of bare stems. I also found one leaf that was not a tea leaf, and appeared to be a small bay leaf. The one large tea leaf fragment appears to be from an Assamica bush. The smell has scents of wood, lemongrass, cardamom, light malt, light caramel, and light valley flowers.
The OP Superior Grade Black Tea from Craigmore Plantations is a fairly light, easy to sip black tea that is not overwhelming in any manner. The color is bright and lively. The woody and spicy taste may call for a light splash of lemon juice or cream, but additives are not necessary to enjoy this tea. This product would make a refreshing and flavorful iced tea. Tea drinkers who do not care for full bodied, strong tasting black teas may find a new favorite in the Craigmore black teas, as they are mild yet flavorful. I would compare this tea more to a Ceylon black tea than an Assam or Chinese black tea.
Thank you to the management of Craigmore Plantations for providing this sample of OP Superior Grade Black Tea. Cheers!