Origin: Nilgiris, Southern India
Producer: Tea Studio
This fine, greenish black bud with flashy silvery highlights carries hints of hazelnuts and cocoa across soft aromas of peonies about to bloom.
This Chinese inspired white 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 applying Japanese and Chinese methods to Indian tea leaves.
Production: Platinum Silver Needles are made exclusively from the bud of the plant. The buds are carefully transferred from the garden to bamboo trays to begin drying. Every few hours, these trays are moved between sunny and shady areas until all the moisture has been removed. Watching the weather carefully, the teamakers must wait for sunny days to produce the appearance and color that makes this white tea so unique.
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 than other regional teas, and quite forgiving - they are difficult to oversteep.
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 in order 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 continues 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.