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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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!