Coonoor Estate Nilgiri Black Tea from Single Origin Teas

It has been a while since I have published a review, but over the next couple of weeks I should have some fresh reviews coming out. I have certainly not been ignoring my teas, but my day job has been very busy the past two weeks, and the tea reviews have had to take a back seat for a while.

Today, I will be focusing on the Coonoor Estate Nilgiri Black Tea. This sample was provided by Single Origin Teas. To view this product at the vendor’s website, please click here. The Coonoor Tea Estate is located in the Nilgiri Hills of Tamil Nadu, southern India. I was not able to find specific information on this particular estate, although I have heard of it, and the Coonoor region in general. Although I have reviewed several teas from the Nilgiri Hills, this will be my first from Coonoor.

This sample, as well as a few more that will be reviewed, came from a relatively new tea vendor, Single Origin Teas. I have had the opportunity to communicate with the owner of Single Origin Teas, and he has a rather interesting background with a highly respectable blend of formal education and hands-on experience in tea cultivation and processing. I am hoping his efforts will give him many opportunities to tell his stories, so I will leave the storytelling to him when the time comes. What I will say is that he and I have a shared passion for a certain tea garden in the Uva Province of Sri Lanka.

The sample packet has been opened, and the appearance of the dry leaves lends this tea immediate respect. Let the journey begin…

Coonoor Estate Nilgiri Black Tea Dry Leaves
Coonoor Estate Nilgiri Black Tea Dry Leaves

The dry leaves have a uniform charcoal black color, with some golden buds in the mix. The leaves are all large fragments, with the possibility of a few whole leaves and unbroken buds. The leaves appear to be handpicked and hand-rolled. The leaves have been well cared for during production. Some of the leaves measure over one inch (25 mm) in length. There are a few bare stems in the mix. This is among the highest quality black teas that I have seen from southern India, with only one other farm being held in the same esteem (Teaneer). The smell has scents of brown sugar, light pine wood, toasted grains, sweet raspberry jam, and candied peaches. The smell is very inviting.

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 minutes. Expect two to three worthy infusions out of the same serving of leaves. Increase steep time by 45 seconds to 1:00 minute on each subsequent infusion.

Coonoor Estate Nilgiri Black Tea Liquor
Coonoor Estate Nilgiri Black Tea Liquor

The first infusion produced a liquor with a bright golden orange color, perfectly clear and transparent. The aroma had scents of light malt, raspberry jam, peach, pine, lemon, and toasted grains. The body is medium, with a lively, round texture, and the liquor seems to coat the tongue like honey. The taste has notes of candied peaches, raspberry jam, pine, light malt, spring valley flowers, light lemon, and light toasted grains. The aftertaste carries the pine and floral notes, and a clean, refreshed feel is left in the mouth.

Coonoor Estate Nilgiri Black Tea Infused Leaves
Coonoor Estate Nilgiri Black Tea Infused Leaves

The infused leaves have a uniform light copper-brown color. Most of the leaves are large fragments, with a few of the more tender leaves being unbroken. There were quite a few buds, some whole and some fragmented, and a few bare stems. Some of the whole buds were quite long, nearing one inch in length (25 mm). The smell carried scents of toasted grains, light pine, light malt, valley flowers, and much lighter scents of peach and raspberries.

The Coonoor Estate Nilgiri Black Tea is definitely on the higher end of the south India black tea quality spectrum. The aroma and taste were distinctly fruity and sweet, with a great balance provided by the pine and toasted grains. The body and texture were refreshing and satisfying, to say the least. Three infusions were extracted from the leaves, with the first two being very enjoyable, and the third being light but refreshing. I said it above and will say it again, this black tea from Coonoor Estate is considerably higher quality than most of the other black teas that I have tried from the Nilgiri Hills of India. Check out Single Origin Teas, and try this gem of a south India tea for yourself.

Thanks to the management of Single Origin Teas for providing this sample of Coonoor Estate Nilgiri Black Tea. Cheers!

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OP Superior Grade Black Tea from Craigmore Plantation in the Nilgiri Hills

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…

Craigmore OP Superior Grade Black Tea Dry Leaves
Craigmore OP Superior Grade Black Tea Dry Leaves

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.

Craigmore OP Superior Grade Black Tea Infusion
Craigmore OP Superior Grade Black Tea Infusion

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.

Craigmore OP Superior Grade Black Tea Infused Leaves
Craigmore OP Superior Grade Black Tea Infused Leaves

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!

Superior Grade Flowery Pekoe Black Tea from Craigmore Plantations

It seems like it has been a long time since my last review. To be honest, I am starting to run low on interesting samples to review, and some that I do have would produce reviews that are slightly redundant due to the similar types of teas that these sample packages contain. Also, I have had an opportunity come my way that has taken some of my time from my reviews, and I hope to have more of an announcement forthcoming on that opportunity within a few months.

Anyway, enough excuses and talk, let’s get to the review. Today, I am focusing on the Superior Grade Flowery Pekoe Black Tea from the Craigmore Plantations. The Craigmore Plantations are located in the Nilgiri Hills of Tamil Nadu state, in southern India. This Superior Grade Flowery Pekoe is considered high altitude grown, with the average altitude being about 5,500 feet (1,675 meters) above sea level.

The sample packet has been opened, and this black tea certainly has a very fresh flowery scent. Let the journey begin…

Craigmore Superior Grade Flowery Pekoe Black Tea Dry Leaves
Craigmore Superior Grade Flowery Pekoe Black Tea Dry Leaves

The dry leaves have a perfectly uniform black color. There are very few stems in the mix. The leaves are all medium sized fragments, machine rolled, and shaped more like small lightly rolled pellets, which is consistent with the pekoe grade. The pellets have a rigid, very dry feel, and crack easily into coarse pieces. The smell has scents of fresh wild flowers, malt, white pepper, light sweet wood, and perhaps a very light touch of candied cranberries.

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 minutes. The same serving of leaves may be used twice, with the expectation of the second infusion being lighter in character.

Craigmore Superior Grade Flowery Pekoe Black Tea Infusion
Craigmore Superior Grade Flowery Pekoe Black Tea Infusion

The first infusion produced a liquor with a bright reddish-orange color, clear and transparent. The smell has scents of white pepper, wood, wild flowers, light malt, and fresh baked bread. The body is full, with a lively yet smooth texture. The taste is somewhat brisk, and has notes of white pepper, wood, light malt, light wild flowers, and fresh baked bread. There is a strong, but not overpowering, astringency that lightens as the liquid cools. The aftertaste is sweet, woody, with a touch of peppery spice. The sweet aftertaste pleasantly lingers on the breath.

Craigmore Superior Grade Flowery Pekoe Black Tea Infused Leaves
Craigmore Superior Grade Flowery Pekoe Black Tea Infused Leaves

The infused leaves have a fairly uniform copper color, with a few leaves leaning toward a greenish-brown. The leaves are all medium sized fragments. There are very few stems in the mix.The leaves have a smooth and leathery texture, and are not delicate. The smell has scents of fresh baked bread, white pepper, wood, and light wild flowers. The smell gets significantly sweeter as the leaves cool.

Of the four black teas that I have sampled from Craigmore Plantations, the Superior Grade Flowery Pekoe has been the favorite. The lively, smooth, texture and full body gave a boost of energy the moment the liquid hit my tongue. The spicy, woody taste is robust yet not overpowering. This tea will take milk, sugar, or lemon very well, but is certainly palatable on its own. The high altitude terroir can be felt in the flowery notes of the aroma and taste of the liquid, as well as the moderately brisk character. The bright color of the liquid is uplifting and inspiring. The expertise in production can be seen in the uniform appearance of the dry leaves. Overall, this is a very good quality Nilgiri black tea.

Thank you to the management of Craigmore Plantations for providing this sample of Superior Grade Flowery Pekoe Black Tea. Cheers!

FOP Supreme Grade Black Tea from Craigmore Plantations

After doing some research on well known and respected tea estates and factories in the Nilgiri area of south India (Tamil Nadu), I came across the Craigmore Plantations. I have been wanting to enhance my familiarity with the teas from Nilgiri, and the high quality orthodox teas from Craigmore Plantations will certainly help me put together a more vivid picture of what to expect from this region.

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 a sweet yet earthy aroma is filling the air. Let the journey begin…

Craigmore FOP Supreme Black Tea Dry Leaves
Craigmore FOP Supreme Black Tea Dry Leaves

The dry leaves have a uniform faded black color, with the small stems having a copper color. There are a few stems in the mix. The leaves are mostly medium sized fragments, and are neatly rolled. There are maybe two or three very small golden tips, but they appear to be tip fragments. The leaves break cleanly, with very little crumbling. The aroma has scents of raw cacao, earth, leather, and valley flowers. The aroma was definitely intriguing, and I will be interested to reopen the sample pack to see if I pick up the same scents.

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 steeped for 4:00 minutes.

My suggestion for at home preparation is to use three grams 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 minutes. Expect two quality infusions from the same serving of leaves, with the second infusion being notably lighter than the first.

Craigmore FOP Supreme Black Tea Infusion
Craigmore FOP Supreme Black Tea Infusion

The first infusion produced a liquor with a bright golden orange color, perfectly clear and transparent. The aroma has scents of caramel, light wood, dandelion, and black pepper. The body is medium-full, with a lively texture, and immediately sends a surge of energy through the body. The taste has notes of caramel, daisy, light rose, light wood, and light lemon. There is a nice and moderate astringency. The aftertaste is sweet and slightly lemony.

Craigmore FOP Supreme Black Tea Infused Leaves
Craigmore FOP Supreme Black Tea Infused Leaves

The infused leaves are mostly a copper brown color, but some lean to the greenish-brown side of the color wheel. The leaves are mostly medium sized fragments, but there are some larger fragments as well, and some stems. The leaves have a soft, smooth texture. The aroma of the leaves is quite sweet, with scents of caramel, a sweet spice (clove?), light wood, light daisy, and light citrus.

This FOP Supreme Black Tea is a nicely balanced black tea, providing a sweet, floral, and woodsy aroma and taste, which compliments the moderate astringency very well. There is no need to add lemon to this tea, as it has a natural lemony character at the back of the tongue and persists through the aftertaste. Although milk is not necessary with the 3:00 minute infusion time, adding another minute will produce a strong enough tea that a splash of milk will compliment quite nicely. This tea gave a boost of energy and awareness literally from the first sip, and makes for a great morning to early afternoon tea. The second infusion is lighter overall, but is quite refreshing. If you like Ceylon tea, give the teas of Craigmore Plantations a try. They are different, yet provide the same lively mouth feel. This would also make a great cold brew, or would be very refreshing iced.

I still have some unopened samples from Poabs Organic Estate located in Kerala, which is the neighboring area to the Nilgiri Hills of Tamil Nadu. I definitely plan to do a side by side comparison of the FBOP grades from Poabs and Craigmore. It is always interesting to compare the same grade of tea from two neighboring areas of production.

Thank you to the management of Craigmore Plantations for generously providing this sample, as well as others from the high grown orthodox black tea and high grown pan fired green tea categories. The review of the Young Hyson pan-fired green tea will be published in the near future. Cheers!