Nilgiri Black Orchid
Origin: Nilgiris, Southern India
Producer: Tea Studio
Infusion Suggestion: 210 degrees, 4 min
Tasting Notes: Vanilla and Honeydew Melon
Information: This delicately curled leaf has the fragrant punch of ripe honeydew melon on a summer’s day while underlined with the classic grounding notes of black tea that culminate with a soft menthol mouth buzz.
This unique black tea is made by one of India's first female tea producers -- Muskan Khanna. This tea is part of a series Khanna is making by adapting Japanese and Chinese methods to Indian tea leaves.
Production: The two leaf and bud set is brought into the factory in bamboo baskets and laid on the trough for withering overnight. The next day the leaf is rolled and allowed to oxidize for a few hours depending on weather conditions. After that, the leaf is manufactured on a roasting machine and is shaped using the heat from our hands. Finally, the tea is put through the aroma machine where the final drying is done. This machine helps lock in the aromas of the tea before they are available to consumers.
Region: The Nilgiri region contains India’s southernmost mountains. While the district is only slightly larger than Darjeeling, it produces nearly four times as much tea. The prolific growth can be attributed to the lush tropical climate. Unlike other regions, most of the land is owned by small growers who sell their green leaf to “bought leaf” factories. Nigiri teas are generally known to be less bitter as they contain fewer tannin than most china bush teas.
Growers: Tea Studio is a state of the art processing facility in the Nilgiris run Muskan Khanna. Her father, Indi, has been producing fine Indian teas for decades, however, Muskan was interested in incorporating traditional Chinese methods into their production to create high quality, one-of-a-kind teas. Under Muskan’s leadership, the factory is currently run and operated exclusively by a team of women – rare for the tea industry. In addition, Tea Studio is also an educational space designed to host groups and teach professionals how to make fine whole leaf teas. Read more about Muskan’s Journey.
Impact: With the creativity and expertise employed at Tea Studio – the breadth and interest of Indian teas continue to expand. Through education and professional development, more small growers will have access to the resources they need to process high-quality teas in the specialty tea world. In an industry dominated by middle-aged men, Muskan represents a youthful energy and face that will be essential if tea will continue to survive in rural India.
When I first get up on a crisp winter morning with evergreens and a deep blue sky…a cup of Black Orchid please.
This tea tastes like the archetype of what you think of when you thing 'black tea". It has a strong flavor but with none of the bitterness usually associated with that flavor.
You can also steep it up to three times, and it still tastes great.
Moreover, the customer service from Young Mountain Tea is exemplary - I had first tasted this tea at Northwest Tea Festival, and meant to order some online, and it turned out htey were out of stock of what I'd ordered. Hailey got in touch, suggested alternatives, comped the shipping, and even sent me a sample of their Nepali Golden Black on top of it (also recommend!)
When this tea came back in stock, I got an immediate notification, and I decided to just go ahead and buy the whole pound.
Thank you so much - I'm really excited to have found a convenient source of delicious tea!