|"They had me at 'citrus'."|
This was an unusual tea, even on a dry whiff. The black leaves were whole and twisty – an odd relief since I usually encountered CTC-cut Nilgiri offerings. There were some tippy pieces amidst the burnt black ones, but the tips were a weird shade of red. The smell really raised question marks. At first, I thought I was sniffing a black tea – smoky, floral, earthy, yadda-yadda – but there was a strong citrus lean to the aroma. Like “blended-with-orange-blossoms” in strength – very unusual.
Mark T. Wendell’s page recommended brewing black teas for four-to-five minutes in water heated up 200F. I agreed with the water temp, but not with the brew time. Personal preference; I tend to enjoy my black teas on the lighter side, rarely passing the three-minute mark. Such was the case here.
The liquor infused to a deep bronze, but didn’t darken beyond that. There were wisps of crimson along the edges, but they only stayed on the periphery. The aroma was standard for a black tea – deeply floral but astringent. The taste was where this really had me confused. I haven’t quite pinpointed what a standard trait among Nilgiri teas is. Assams have their malt, Darjeelings their muscatels, but Nilgiri teas…what do they do?
This one seemed to infringe on the identities and characteristics of other fine black teas. The forefront was sweet like a Keemun, it flirted with malt but not as deeply as an Assam, and there was a fruity bend like a Darjeeling. However, the fruit in question wasn’t of the grape variety. That citrus lean I detected in the dry batch blossomed in the brew, committing a dazzling impression of tangerine rind. In this regard, it reminded me of another citrus-prone black tea from India – the OPs of Sikkim. Where that had grapefruits down pat, this took on the smaller kin. And how! The finest Nilgiri I have yet had.
— To purchase Mark T Wendell Nilgiri Tiger Hill Estate Tea, or for more specific information on ingredients or the story behind this particular tea, click here to go directly to the manufacturer's web site.
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