Kilmelfort Paradise Green Tea From Panchura Estates in Tamil Nadu, India

After a very productive and busy couple of months at work, I finally have a few moments today to review an interesting pan-fired green tea that I recently received from Panchura Estates, located in Coonoor, western Tamil Nadu, southern India. See the map below to get an idea of where this beautiful estate is located.

This beautiful, high altitude estate, also known as Kilmelfort, is owned and operated by the Mehta family. The estate consists of 22 hectares (55 acres) of land, and sits at an average altitude of 1,950 meters (6,400 feet) above sea level. Since 2012, the estate has used 100% natural cultivation methods, blending modern organic techniques with traditional Indian techniques, on a combination of Assamica seedling bushes and the CR-6017 cultivar bushes.

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Kilmelfort – Panchura Estates – Coonoor, Tamil Nadu, India

Kilmelfort produces orthodox styles of green tea, oolong tea, and silver tips white tea. I received three samples of three different grades of the same style of specialty green tea. After trying each of the grades, the aromas, tastes, and other characteristics of the tea liquid were quite similar. The differences between the grades were more noticeable in the appearance of the dry leaves. This review will focus on the highest grade sample that I received, grade 2, as it is the most interesting to observe in all stages.

Although I was not able to find a website to purchase these products, I was able to locate the estate’s page on LinkedIn, and found their website, mehtaherbs.com, showing all of their products, which range from specialty teas to aloe skin care products.

Let’s get to the review…

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Kilmelfort Paradise Green Tea – Dry Leaves

The dry leaves vary in color from pale light green to pale gray. The blend consists of large leaf fragments, perhaps some unbroken leaves, a few bare stems, with no buds clearly visible. The leaves are lightly hand twisted, creating a long, curled, yet fluffy appearance. Based on the appearance and aroma of the dry leaves, I am guessing that a cast iron pan is used to fire these leaves. I expect the leaves to show some minor oxidation, as is common with green teas produced in this fashion from south India and Sri Lanka. The aroma is unique, with earthy scents of minerals and iron, dry leather, and touches of dark chocolate, dried figs and barnyard.

Eight grams of dry leaves were placed in an 18 ounce (530 mL) cast iron tetsubin teapot, and infused with 175°F (80°C) water for 2:00 minutes. Subsequent infusions had an additional 30 seconds of time added.

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Kilmelfort Paradise Green Tea – Liquid

The tea liquid has a golden yellow color, with a slight green tint. The aroma has scents of wet stones, mineral, fresh forest floor, and a touch of lemon or citrus. The body is  on the light side of medium, with a clean, silky texture, and a refreshing, revitalizing energy. There is no bitterness, and a light, lemon-like acidity. The taste carries the notes of wet stones, mineral, iron, fresh forest floor, and a touch of lemon. The liquid leaves a metallic taste on the tongue. This is not a negative, as the metallic character has a surprisingly natural, cleansing quality to it. The aftertaste continues the wet stone, mineral character.

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Kilmelfort Paradise Green Tea – Infused Leaves

The infused leaves vary in color from pale fresh green to fresh forest green. The stems are brown. The blend consists of all large leaf fragments. I did not find any totally unbroken leaves or buds in the mix. The leaves have the hearty texture and thicker midrib of Assamica bush leaves. Some minor oxidation occurred in many of the leaves, as expected, and there are minor signs of slight overfiring on a few of the leaves. The infused leaves carry the fresh, earthy scents of mineral, forest floor, and wet stones, and the touch of dark chocolate is coming through again.

The Kilmelfort Paradise Green Tea is like no green tea that I have had in recent memory. The dominant earthy and mineral characters give a refreshing, cleansing quality to the liquid. The dry leaves are a pleasure to observe. There is clearly a great deal of care put into manufacturing this product, and this is not even the best grade to come from Kilmelfort!

Quick side note, the other grades that I received, grades 3 and 4, had slightly smaller leaf fragments in their blends, and a little less consistency in the fragment size than the grade 2 being reviewed here. With the slightly smaller fragments, the strength of the liquids were slightly stronger, but maintained the same general aromas and tastes.

Thank you to the management at Kilmelfort and Panchura Estates for providing these samples of green tea. Keep up the good work!

 

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High Grown Hyson Green Tea from Craigmore Plantations

Today’s review will focus on the Hyson grade Green Tea from Craigmore Plantations, located in the Nilgiri Hills of Tamil Nadu state in southern India. I covered the Craigmore Plantation in good detail on my previous review of the FOP Supreme Grade Black Tea. Click here to see that review and to read more about Craigmore Plantation.

All of the green teas produced at Craigmore Plantations are manufactured at the Pascoe Woodlands Factory. All of the green teas produced at this factory are pan-fired, not steamed. The tea bushes that are harvested to produce these green teas are considered High Grown, with average elevations of 5,500 feet (1,675 meters) above sea level.

The labeling of this product as “Hyson” may cause frustration with some people, but we will let them voice their opinions on their time. The manufacturer has labeled this product as “Hyson”, thus I am using that name. The sample packet has been opened, and an earthy aroma is being detected. Let the journey begin…

Craigmore Hyson Green Tea Dry Leaves
Craigmore Hyson Green Tea Dry Leaves

The dry leaves range in color from dull forest green to very dark green, almost black. The leaves are all large fragments, with the possibility of a few whole leaves. There are a few stems in the mix. The leaves are tightly rolled (machine), causing some to curl significantly. The color of the leaves is evidence of the pan-firing technique. The size of the dry leaves indicates that larger, more mature leaves are being harvested to produce this tea. There are no tips in the mix. The aroma has scents of forest floor, animal hide, light molasses, and dry grass.

Three grams of dry leaves were placed in a five ounce (150 ml) porcelain infusion cup. Purified water was heated to 175°F (75°C). The leaves were infused for 3:00 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 175°F (75°C). Infuse the leaves for 1:30 to 2:00, maximum. Expect to get three quality infusions out of the same serving of leaves.

Craigmore Hyson Green Tea Infusion
Craigmore Hyson Green Tea Infusion

The first infusion produced a liquor with a pale yellow-jade green color, clear and transparent. The aroma has scents of earth (forest floor), mineral, grass, and light flowers. The body is medium, with a gentle, velvety, clean texture. The taste has notes of grass, mineral (wet stones), and light flowers. There is a medium strength astringency. The aftertaste continues the grass and mineral taste, and a light flowery essence can be felt on the breath.

Craigmore Hyson Green Tea Infused Leaves
Craigmore Hyson Green Tea Infused Leaves

The infused leaves have a uniform forest green color, with a few spots of light brown. The leaves are all medium to large fragments. There are some stems in the mix, including the one pictured, which measured nearly four inches (100 mm) long. The fragments come from rather large, mature leaves, similar to those that I have found in Hyson/Young Hyson green teas from Sri Lanka. The leaves have a very smooth, thin rubbery texture. The aroma has scents of wet grass, forest floor, and wet stones.

Overall, the Hyson Green Tea from Craigmore Plantations is an interesting detour from the more well known and recognized green teas of China, Japan, South Korea, and Taiwan. Again, it has some similarities to my favorite green tea from Sri Lanka, but this product was missing some of the liveliness, consistency from infusion to infusion, and taste components that make the Ceylon Big Leaf Green Tea from Radella Tea Estate my preference. This green tea from Craigmore does has a clean texture that I found pleasant, and overall the aroma and taste were enjoyable. The aroma of the dry leaves was unique, but some may find it off-putting. Again, if you have been drinking plenty of Japanese or Korean green teas, and want a drastically different profile in a green tea, then the Craigmore Hyson Green Tea will satisfy that desire.

Thank you to the management of Craigmore Plantations for providing this sample of Hyson Green Tea. It was a great experience! Cheers!

Teaneer Aristocrat Green Tea from Teaneer Teas and Vijayalakshmi Natural Farm

I am getting to the end of my samples from Teaneer Teas and Vijayalakshmi Natural Farm, located in the Nilgiri district of south India. I did save the tea which I found to have the most intriguing name for last, the Teaneer Aristocrat.

The sample packet has been opened, and an interesting aroma is escaping the bag. Let the journey begin…

Teaneer Aristocrate Green Tea Dry Leaves
Teaneer Aristocrate Green Tea Dry Leaves
Teaneer Aristocrate Green Tea Dry Leaves (2)
Teaneer Aristocrat Green Tea Dry Leaves (2)

The dry leaves are brownish-green to dark brown in color, with a generous portion of silver tips. The leaves are long (leggy), and twisted, displaying a two leaf and bud pluck. The leaves are mostly whole with stem attached. There are a few large fragments, and some crumbs, but no bare stems. The aroma has scents of dry hay, barnyard, earth, light cocoa, and very light dark pit fruit. The aroma is quite complex. The dry leaves from Teaneer always appear darker than other green teas, but the true character comes out in the liquor and appearance of the infused leaves.

Three grams of dry leaves were placed in a five ounce (150 ml) ceramic infusion cup. Purified spring water was heated to 175°F (75°C). The leaves were infused for one minute thirty seconds, with fifteen seconds being added to subsequent infusions.

Teaneer Aristocrate Green Tea 1st Infusion
Teaneer Aristocrat Green Tea 1st Infusion

The first infusion produced a liquor with pale, light yellow color, clear and transparent, with some fine particulate. The aroma has scents of hay, forest floor, mineral, and earth. The body is light-medium, with a delicate and clean texture. The taste has notes of mineral (wet stone), earth (forest floor), light hay, light wood, and light marine air. The aftertaste has a mineral and hay character, while the essence that is left on the breath combines hay with flowers. There is a very clean, refreshed feel left in the mouth.

Teaneer Aristocrate Green Tea 2nd Infusion
Teaneer Aristocrat Green Tea 2nd Infusion

The second infusion produced a liquor with a darker shade of golden-yellow color. The fine particulate continues to be present in the second infusion. The aroma retains the scents of earth, forest floor, mineral, and a hint of marine air. The body and texture retain similar characteristics to the first infusion. The taste is better balanced, and retains the same general notes as the first infusion, again with the marine air note gaining some strength. The aftertaste and essence remain the same as the first infusion.

Unfortunately, my camera malfunctioned after taking the third photo, but I did not realize it until now, so there is no photo of the third infusion. The third infusion produced a liquor with a lighter shade of golden yellow than the second infusion, but still darker than the first infusion. The fine particulate continues to be present even in the third infusion. The aroma has lightened some, and retains the scents of minerals, forest floor, and marine air. The body is light. The taste has lightened some, and retains notes of mineral, forest floor, earth, and marine air. The aftertaste and essence have lightened some.

Teaneer Aristocrate Green Tea Infused Leaves
Teaneer Aristocrat Green Tea Infused Leaves

The infused leaves have a very fresh light to average forest green color. There is some black particulate remaining on the leaves.The leaves have mostly a two leaf and bud pluck. There are some more developed buds in the mix, and no bare stems. Most of the leaves are whole with stem intact, and other leaves are large fragments. The leaves are long and narrow, and have a soft, almost faux-leather texture. I believe another worthy infusion could be extracted from these leaves. The aroma has scents of forest floor, hay, and very light cocoa.

Some of these green teas from Teaneer, including this Aristocrat product, are very unique in their appearance, being covered by a dark film-like material that can be seen as fine particulate in the cup, and even some left on the infused leaves. I assume this is a result of the firing procedure employed by Vijayalakshmi Natural Farm. I also assume that it is this firing procedure, and the resulting dark film, that gives the tea the earthy, mineral, forest floor characteristics. Although this may seem to sound unclean, this tea leaves behind a very clean feel in the mouth, and has a very refreshing effect. It takes some adaptation, but by the end of the first infusion, I began liking this tea much more.

Cheers to Teaneer Teas and Vijayalakshmi Natural Farm for providing another unique and interesting sample!

Teaneer Panfired Green Tea from Vijayalakshmi Natural Farms

Getting back to the samples provided by Teaneer Teas and Vijayalakshmi Natural Farms, the Panfired green tea looks most interesting to me today.

Although Teaneer and Vijayalakshmi Natural Farms do not have an official website, or at least one that I can find, they are present on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter as Teaneer. Vijayalakshmi Natural Farms is located in the Nilgiri district of south India.

The sample pack has been opened, and the appearance of these dry leaves has sparked my interest. Let the journey begin…

Teaneer Panfried Green Tea Dry Leaves
Teaneer Panfired Green Tea Dry Leaves

The dry leaves have a dark green color with yellow blotches. There are also some smaller silver tips. The leaves are twisted. Most of the leaves appear to be whole, unbroken leaves with stem attached. The pluck is mostly two and a small bud, but some of the leaves appear to have the third leaf on the stem, as well. Others are large fragments. There are no bare stems or twigs. The aroma has scents of sweet wood, sweet hay, and a light fruity hint. I can say that I have never seen a tea with an appearance similar to this tea. Although I assume that the yellow blotches on the leaves are the result of the panfiring process, I wish I knew more about the in depth chemistry that leads to this occurrence.

Five grams of dry leaves were placed in a 9.4 ounce (280 ml) Tokoname teapot. Purified spring water was heated to 175°F (75°C). The leaves were infused for one minute on the first infusion, thirty seconds on the second infusion, and forty-five seconds on the third infusion.

Teaneer Panfried Green Tea 1st Infusion
Teaneer Panfired Green Tea 1st Infusion

The first infusion produced a liquor with a light, pale jade greenish yellow color, clear and transparent. The aroma has scents of roasted nuts, light wood, and light hay. The body is light, with a round texture. The taste has notes of wood, roasted nuts, grass, and a light floral hint. The aftertaste is grassy and floral.

Teaneer Panfried Green Tea 2nd Infusion
Teaneer Panfired Green Tea 2nd Infusion

The second infusion produced a liquor with a more specific light, pale jade green color, less yellow tint. The aroma retains the scents of roasted nuts, wood, and hay. The body and texture are the same as the first infusion. The taste is also very similar, with the grassy character taking over some of the roasted nut note. The wood and floral notes are the same, as well as the grassy and floral aftertaste.

Teaneer Panfried Green Tea 3rd Infusion
Teaneer Panfired Green Tea 3rd Infusion

The third infusion has an identical color to the second infusion. The aroma, body, and tastes are slightly lighter, but retain the same general descriptions as the second infusion. This third infusion had plenty of aroma and flavor to offer.

Teaneer Panfried Green Tea Infused Leaves
Teaneer Panfired Green Tea Infused Leaves

As usual with the teas from Vijayalakshmi Natural Farms, the infused leaves look and smell very fresh. The color is a uniform bright, lively forest green. The leaves are long and narrow. The pluck is mostly two and a small bud, with some having the third leaf included in the pluck. There are a few longer, more generous buds in the mix, as well. The majority of leaves are whole and unbroken. The remaining leaves are large fragments. The aroma is very fresh, and has scents of wet wood, fresh grass, and flowers.

In the past, I have had a hard time appreciating panfired green teas. They never tasted bad to me, but I just could not find the high level of pleasure that other tea enthusiasts have found in them. What I can say about this Teaneer Panfired green tea is that it is one of the panfired green teas that I did find pleasurable, and there were no aspects that I found unpleasant. In my world of panfired green teas, it holds a respectable place towards the top of the list. The appearance of the dry leaves is very interesting, and the appearance of the infused leaves is beautiful. The care and effort put into the teas from Vijayalakshmi Natural Farms is evident in all of their products, and this Panfired Green Tea certainly fits that mold perfectly.

Thank you to Teaneer and Vijayalakshmi Natural Farms for providing this sample of Panfired green tea. Cheers!

Teaneer Flow Green Tea from Tealet Teas (Vijayalakshmi Natural Farm)

On August 28th of 2013, I tasted a sample of the Teaneer Flow Green Tea. This sample was provided by Tealet Teas. To learn more about Tealet Teas and their products, please click here. This particular tea will be available during Tealet’s monthly auction in September of 2013.

This tea was grown and processed by the Vijayalakshmi Natural Farm located in Nilgiris, India. According to the grower’s profile on the Tealet Teas website, the estates which grow the tea bushes are at an altitude of 2,200 to 2,400 feet above sea level. Since 2008, this farm has been dedicated to only using biodynamic methods to grow tea bushes. The teas produced by Vijayalakshmi Natural Farm are mostly sun-dried until the final drying step, and are not processed on rainy days. To view the grower profile on Tealet’s website, please click here.

Let the journey begin…

Tea Analysis and Review Form

Date: 08/28/2013

Product Name: Teaneer Flow Green

Purchased From: Tealet Teas

Origin: Vijayalakshmi Natural Farm, Niligiris, India

Type of Tea: South India Green

Tea Leaf Characteristics Prior to Infusion:

Teaneer Flow Green Dry Leaves

Aroma: Fruity (dried fruit), Vegetal (fresh cut grass)

Dryness: Moderately Dry. Leaves crack in to coarse crumbles.

Color: Dark green, brown spots, few silvery tips.

Texture: Smooth, dry leaves. No uniform twisting noticeable.

Size, Shape: No uniformity to leaf sizes and shapes. Longest leaf at 1 Inch (25.4 mm).

Unique Characteristics: Leaves appear to have some level of oxidation, whether intentional or not. The brown spots tell me there was oxidation. The smell is very pleasant, and the variety of colors is eye catching as well.

Sampling Measurements:

Amount of Water: 8 oz (237 ml)

Amount of Tea: 3 grams

Tea Liquor Evaluation

First Infusion:

Teaneer Flow Green 1st Infusion

Water Temperature: 175°F (80°C)

Steep Time: 1 Minute and 0 seconds

Aroma: Fruity (grape & cherry), Vegetal (fresh cut grass).

Color: Gold. Clear. Transparent.

Taste: Fruit (cherry and grape), Vegetal (spinach) are the three most apparent tastes. A very mild astringency. Body is smooth with a pleasant lightly fruity aftertaste.

Comments: This is a very mild and fruity green tea, with less astringency than most Chinese and Japanese varieties. The aroma is delicate and sweet smelling.

Second Infusion:

Teaneer Flow Green 2nd Infusion

Water Temperature: 160°F (71°C)

Steep Time: 1 Minute and 0 seconds.

Aroma: Fruity (Dried fruit, raisin), lightly cherry.

Color: Lighter golden. Clear. Transparent.

Taste: Lighter overall than the 1st infusion, but the fruity grape and cherry flavors were still apparent, with a lighter fresh spinach note. Body was slightly lighter.

Comments: I should have just kept the water temperature at 175°F (80°C). I lowered the temperature to see if I could pull more of the subtle flavors out, but ended up just pulling less taste all together. I will stick with the higher temperature for the 3rd infusion. Anyway, the taste was still good, just lighter, but that was my fault more than the teas.

Third Infusion:

Teaneer Flow Green 3rd Infusion

Water Temperature: 175°F (80°C)

Steep Time: 1 Minute and 15 seconds.

Aroma: Fruity (dried fruit, raisin).

Color: Light gold. Slightly darker than 2nd infusion. Clear. Transparent.

Taste: Light fruit (grape, cherry, raisin), Very light spinach. Lighter body and less aftertaste.

Comments: Light taste, similar in body and strength to the 2nd infusion. Higher water temperature did make the 3rd infusion strong enough to taste as good as the 2nd infusion. I would not expect a fourth infusion to be worthwhile.

Tea Leaf Characteristics After Infusions:

Teaneer Flow Green Infused Leaves

Color: Mixture of fresh green and brown leaves. Brown stems.

Aroma: Fruity (raisins), Earthy (wet leaves).

Size, Shape: Some full leaves, but mostly fragments. Some bare stems. Pluck appears to be one to two leaves. Not much uniformity in shape or size.

Unique Characteristics: Pleasant aroma, a fresh leaf look, more durability than expected. A fourth infusion may be possible.

Final Comments: The Teaneer Flow Green is a unique, flavorful, and high quality tea. For the tea drinkers, or future tea drinkers, who do not care for the astringency of other green teas, this tea could be a good solution. Along with the fruity flavors that are most abundant, there is a level of vegetal (spinach) taste and aroma that certainly gives this tea a green character. The brown spots that are obvious on the leaves signal that some oxidation occurred during the processing of these leaves, which puts the true classification of this tea in to question. Regardless, the taste is very pleasant and high quality. This will be a pleasing tea to the novice and the veteran drinkers alike. As always, since this tea is a break from the usual Chinese and Japanese green teas, I would highly recommend it to anyone. It’s an opportunity to journey in to a new region of green tea.