NILGIRIS: THE BLUE MOUNTAIN TEAS
The Nilgiris also known as the Blue Mountains are part of the Western Ghats. The saxe-blue kurinji (Strobilanthes) flowers that bloom every 12 years gave it the name blue mountain. Apart from its beauty, the Nilgiri district is also known for its tea; a third cousin only third to the Assam and Darjeeling tea. The Nilgiris tea is popular among the North Americans who love the Nilgiris black tea for its perfect balance of colour, strength and astringency. Nilgiri tea estates have continuously been improving the tea they produce.
HOW TEA CAME TO THE NILGIRIS
Tea came to the Nigiris through the British East India Company after the 4th Anglo Indian War of 1799 when Tipu Sultan was defeated. However, it was only in the year 1819 when John Sullivan, put out a petition for a sanatorium to be created here.
In the year 1833, Dr Christie, an Assistant Surgeon from Madras, asked for the tea seed to be planted on the hills. It took a lot of trials, experimentation and innovation before the tea planted here was sent to the London's Mincing Lane to be auctioned.
TEA FROM THE NILGIRIS
The Nilgiris has a climate similar to Darjeeling and produces hand-sorted, whole-leaf grades of tea like the orange pekoe (OP) and pekoe cut black tea. The orange pekoe black tea is a basic, medium-grade tea consisting of many whole tea leaves of a specific size, while the pekoe is a finer grade tea compromising of young tea leaves and buds. Broken orange pekoe and CTC are lower tea grades also produced here.