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!

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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!

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!

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!