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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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!