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Subscriptions! They’ve been around for many years but just recently, subscriptions have been taking on new forms and increasing in popularity. From movies to even dinner kits, you can get just about anything through a subscription. So when you hear about subscribing to tea, is it truly a surprise?

The answer is yes! Introducing English Tea Store’s Tea of the Month Subscription! Each month presents an opportunity to try new teas at an unbeatable price. How does it work? You can either try the:

Loose or Tea Bag Month-to-Month Subscription: For $13.95 a month, you can choose between loose leaf tea or tea bags! Loose leaf comes in 4oz and tea bags are in packs of 25. If loose leaf is chosen, two of the 4oz packs are sent or if you prefer tea bags, you will get two packs of 25 teabags. You can also choose to get one loose leaf and one tea bag! Also included are 5 tea bag samples or a 1oz loose tea sample. This subscription is billed monthly and you can cancel at any time.

Tea of the Month, Loose Leaf Yearly Subscription: As previously described above, you will get two 4oz packs of loose leaf tea, plus a 1oz loose tea sample. However, with this subscription, you must prepay a lump sum once a year. For purchasing the yearly subscription, you get to save an extra 20%, bringing your monthly total down from $13.95 to $11.17.

Tea of the Month, Tea Bag Yearly Subscription: This subscription has the same terms as the Loose Leaf Yearly Subscription, only you get to choose the two packs of 25 tea bags per month for a prepaid annual price (same as the Loose Leaf Yearly Subscription), billed once a year when you begin your subscription. A sample pack of 5 tea bags is also included!

The boxes ship out the first week of each month for our subscribers. Tea samples are selected by our own tea enthusiasts, ensuring you will get to try the best teas! You can subscribe to these services for yourself, or you can give one as a gift! Every month will feature new teas to try and you may find a new favorite. Give us a try!

-CD

 

 


*MONTHLY SUBSCRIPTIONS

By purchasing a Monthly Subscription, you agree and acknowledge that your subscription has an initial and recurring payment charge at the then-current subscription rate and you accept responsibility for all recurring charges prior to cancellation, including any charges processed by Englishteastore.com after the expiration date of your payment card.

*ANNUAL SUBSCRIPTIONS

By purchasing an Annual Subscription, you agree and acknowledge that your subscription has an initial pre-payment feature for 12 months of service without a recurring Annual Subscription renewal. Including any charges processed by Englishteastore.com after the expiration date of your payment card.

Orders placed on or after the 1st of the month will ship the 1st business day of the following month.

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Julia Briggs (c)

Is it OK to say I do not like chocolate cake?  I do make chocolate cakes and I do eat some chocolates, like Maltesers but I have never been a fan of rich chocolate cakes so I make this orange flavour cake and put chocolate chips in and it is good.

You can of course use cocoa powder in place of some of the flour if you want a chocolate colour, you can also use milk, plain or white chocolate chips, I only had white chocolate in stock.  I filled half with orange marmalade and half with lemon curd and butter icing to satisfy the whole family!

You will need: Two 8″ cake tins well greased or one well greased 10″ cake tin. Oven 180 C  350 F  Gas Mark 4

  • 8 oz Butter
  • 8 oz Caster Sugar
  • 4 eggs, beaten
  • A few drops of vanilla essence
  • A few drops of orange essence
  • 8 oz Self Raising flour
  • Grated rind of an orange
  • juice of half an orange
  • 4 oz chocolate chips
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Julia Briggs (c)

Cream the butter with the sugar until light and fluffy then add the beaten eggs with a spoonful of flour and the vanilla and orange essence.  Fold in the flour, grated rind, juice and chocolate chips.  Pour into two 8″ cake tins or one 10″ tin.  Cook for 35 minutes until well risen and firm to the touch.  Leave in the tin to cool slightly, using a cake tester or needle prick all over the top of the cake and then mix the other half of the orange juice with a little hot water and pour onto the cake. When slightly cool take from the tin and place on a wire rack until completely cold.

Slice the cake, or not if you have made two!  Spread orange marmalade or lemon cheese on the bottom half then cream or butter icing onto the underside of the top half of the cake.  Sandwich them together and enjoy a piece with a cup of tea.

 

–  JAB

July has arrived! It may seem like the past few months have been flying by, but we’re here to give you a little bit of tea encouragement. The teas listed below offer special pricing that will last all month long (no code needed.)

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(c) English Tea Store – Earl Grey Teabags

The first tea is our Regular Earl Grey Tea in Fine Loose Leaf or Teabags. The Earl Grey Tea blend from English Tea Store is a blend of Ceylon and Indian teas. The tea receives its unusual and unique flavor from oil of Bergamot – which is a small acidic orange. The Bergamot orange is a cross between the sweet or pear lemon (Citrus Limetta) and the Seville or sour orange (Citrus Aurantium). The sour orange is native to Southern Vietnam. The Earl Grey Fine Loose Tea is available in 4 different sizes: 4 ounces, 8 ounces, 15 ounces, or 80 ounces. The Earl Grey Teabags are available in a 25 pouch, 25 tin, 50 pouch, 100 bulk, or 500 bulk.

Curious about the benefits of drinking Earl Grey Tea?

  • Good for your teeth – That’s right! Tea contains very high levels of catechin, which is an antioxidant that fights oral infection. Flouride is a naturally occurring component in Earl Grey.
  • Promotes good digestion – Earl Grey can aid and relieve painful digestion, colic, and nausea.
  • Fights anxiety and depression – Unfortunately, in today’s world many people suffer from anxiety, depression, or both. Maybe you’re looking for other routes instead of medicine? The Bergamot in Earl Grey has a calming effect and has natural aromatherapy qualities.
  • Weight loss – Like most teas citrus teas, Earl Grey an induce weight loss. It is thought that calories are broken down into food for your muscles or released through the metabolic process. Try adding some extra citrus like lemon!
  • Hydration (It’s Key!) – Hydration is so important for your body…and it’s not just because tea is made with water. Earl Grey has a high potassium content so it keeps your fluids in check.
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(c) English Tea Store – Mim Estate Loose Leaf

Moving on to our next July tea – Mim Estate in Loose Leaf. The Mim Estate blend from the English Tea Store has a distinctive “Muscatel” character with a hint of currant. This tea is a 2nd flush Darjeeling and comes from the Mim Estate in Northern India. The genus of the Darjeeling tea bush is the Chinese Jat, which gives it the distinctive muscatel character. The fragrance and taste is a complex bouquet that travels right out of the cup. Some may describe the taste as nutty, black currant, or muscat grape-like.

The final tea of the month is actually multiple teas in a sampler (What more could you ask for?!) – The Fruit Kick – Loose Leaf Sampler. This is great if you’re looking to try something new and adventure out of your safe zone. Each sampler pack comes with 1 ounce of each of our favorite fruit flavored loose leaf teas: Apple Spice Black Tea, Blackcurrant Black Tea, Pomegranate Lemon Black Tea, Wild Blueberry Organic Tea, and Florida Orange Rooibos Tea. We recommend brewing in water, that has been brought to a boil, for 3-5 minutes.

Okay – I think we’ve given you a lot to think about. Tell us your favorite flavored tea!

Spring Pouchong is a great tea for Thanksgiving! (Photo by A.C. Cargill, all rights reserved)

Spring Pouchong is a great tea for Thanksgiving! (Photo by A.C. Cargill, all rights reserved)

Whether you have a more traditional, Norman Rockwell-esque Thanksgiving dinner or something very untraditional and unique, tea is an important part of that feast. And serving the right tea can make the difference to you and your guests between success or “so long, folks.” Not that anyone would walk away from a great meal just because you served the wrong tea with it. But they will walk away from the tea. So, let’s see how to have a bit more assurance that this won’t happen. Here are 5 tasty teas that are great with traditional Thanksgiving dishes and even non-traditional ones.

1 Assam Black Tea (CTC style)

The sky is the limit here, as far as food pairings are concerned. So, no matter what your feast menu consists of, this tea should be a big hit! Great hot or iced, straight (steep only 2-3 minutes instead of 3-5 minutes) or with milk and sweetener.

  • Meats: Hamburgers, Bacon, Fried or Roasted Chicken, Baked Ham, Eggs, Mexican Foods, Lasagna
  • Cheeses: Goat Cheese
  • Grains: Corn Bread, Couscous
  • Vegetables: Chiles, Baked Beans, Mushrooms (Chanterelle, Common, Morel, Porcini)
  • Desserts/Sweets: Dark Chocolate, Carrot Cake, Crème Brûlée, Caramel, Pecan Pie, Ones with Coffee or Mocha Flavors, Cinnamon, Nutmeg

2 Spring Pouchong Tea

You’re probably thinking I’ve flipped my lid, but quite the contrary. This is a rather surprising tea, pairing with more foods than you might think. Plus, although many classify this as an oolong, it is so lightly oxidized that it is more like a green tea.

  • Meats: Chicken Curry
  • Fish/Seafood: Anchovies
  • Cheeses: Gorgonzola, Muenster
  • Vegetables: Potato Salad, Antipasto (even ones with meats in them)
  • Desserts/Sweets: Baklava, Ones with Bananas, Avocados, Ones with Vanilla, Ones with Mint, Fresh Fruit

3 Darjeeling Tea

Another tea style that goes with a wide range of foods. And it can be served hot or iced (I’m keeping all you folks in warmer climates, like the Southwest U.S., in mind here).

  • Meats: Turkey, Hamburgers, Chicken (Buffalo Wings, Curry, Lemon), Lamb, Smoked Ham, Eggs, Quiche, Pork, other meat curries, Carpaccio (an appetizer made of raw meat or fish, thinly sliced or pounded thin)
  • Fish/Seafood: Blinis with Salmon, Smoked or Grilled Fish/Seafood, Anchovies
  • Cheeses: Brie, Cheddar, Cream Cheese, Edam (best with Autumn Flush Darjeeling), Camembert (best with First Flush Darjeeling)
  • Vegetables: Eggplant, Potato Salad, Morel Mushrooms (best with Second-Flush or Autumn Flush Darjeeling), Polenta (cornmeal boiled into a porridge – can be eaten as is or baked, fried, grilled)
  • Herbs/Spices: Cinnamon (best with Autumn Flush Darjeeling), Basil, Ginger, Mint, Nutmeg
  • Desserts/Sweets: Chocolate (Dark, Milk, or White), Baklava, Carrot Cake, Cheesecake, Crème Brûlée, Crêpes, Fruit Compote/Tart (Ones with Apples, Blackcurrants, Raspberries, Strawberries), Pecan Pie, Pumpkin Pie, Fresh Fruit, Avocados

4 Ceylon Green Tea

An all-round good green tea that will be strong enough in flavor yet light enough in its general impression on your palate to suit your guests after that big meal. Consider this your dessert tea, although it can go with a few other foods well, too.

  • Fish/Seafood: Anchovies, Clam Chowder, Prawns
  • Other: Capers, Salsa
  • Desserts/Sweets: Pumpkin Pie, Baklava, Carrot Cake, Cheesecake, Crème Brûlée, Ones with Raspberries, Ones with Caramel

5 Ceylon Black Tea

Another tea that is pretty general when it comes to pairing with foods. So let your inner chef take over when planning the menu and have free rein.

  • Meats: Turkey, Pork, Beef (Hamburgers, Stews, Roasts, Briskets, Steaks), Bacon, Eggs, Quiche, Chicken (Buffalo Wings, Fried, Lemon, Roasted), Baked Ham, Lamb, BBQ Meat, Salami, Lasagna, Antipasto (even ones with meats in them), Carpaccio
  • Fish/Seafood: Ones that are Smoked
  • Cheeses: Cream Cheese, Edam, Gorgonzola, Provolone
  • Vegetables: Any Raw Veggies, Mushrooms (Chanterelles, Common, Porcini), Eggplant, Potato Salad, Baked Beans
  • Grains/Pastas: Corn Bread, Couscous, Macaroni & Cheese
  • Other: Nutmeg, Spicy Foods, Mexican Dishes, Pizza
  • Desserts/Sweets: Pecan Pie, Pumpkin Pie, Baklava, Carrot Cake, Cheesecake, Crème Brûlée, Fruit Compote/Tart, Ones with Caramel, Ones with Bananas, Ones with Raspberries, Ones with Vanilla

Wishing you a great dinner and some lovely tea experiences. Enjoy!

See more of A.C. Cargill’s articles here.

© Online Stores, Inc., and The English Tea Store Blog, 2009-2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this article’s author and/or the blog’s owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Online Stores, Inc., and The English Tea Store Blog with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

One of the chief areas in India for growing tea is the state of Assam in the northeastern part of the country. There are hundreds of tea gardens (Chah-Buwas or tea plantations) with names that can be real tongue twisters. Two of my favorites are Borengajuli and Tarajulie (simple to say if you pronounce them a syllable at a time). Dan Bolton, a tea writer, collected a partial list of Assam tea gardens and tea estates. I have added to that and ran the total up to about double what he had. Many of them are not known outside the tea auction houses. Others are part of larger companies such as McLeod Russel/Williamson and Tata. But with so many, a full list is a bit tricky. I wrote about a few in this article, and thought it was about time to write about some more.

Tarajulie, hot, malty, rich, and great served “British style”! (Photo by A.C. Cargill, all rights reserved)

Tarajulie, hot, malty, rich, and great served “British style”! (Photo by A.C. Cargill, all rights reserved)

The exact number of tea gardens varies, but one thing is for sure: they produce a lot of tea – and that amount varies per source, with one claiming it’s 400 million kilograms and another claiming it’s a mere 1.5 million pounds (about 680,400 kilograms, a lot less). The tea gardens stretch out on either side of roads as you drive through Assam Valley where the Brahmaputra river flows. They are more level than gardens in more mountainous areas of India, China, Taiwan, and other tea growing nations. And the bushes are low-growing (about waist height or lower).

Some tea gardens of note:

  • Achabam Tea Estate – the name literally means “it has good soil”; founded in 1921 by the manager of the Borhat Tea Estate (Mr. Knoll); between the Desam River and neighboring villages; the garden is quite productive, producing as much as 2,836 kgs per hectare.
  • Borengajuli Tea Estate – part of McLeod Russel (a member of the Williamson Magor Group); a smaller garden near the village of Bamonjuli where most of the older residents help in the tea garden and keep it safe from wild elephants and their children go off to larger towns to seek work (usually as domestics); the tea has a very high reputation (including with me and hubby).
  • Dikom Tea Estate – named after the high quality of the water there; dates back to the Medieval era of the state of Assam when it was ruled by kings; teas from here are tippy, bright and malty in flavor, famous the world over; in the heart of the tea growing region of Assam; very well maintained fields with an aggressive uprooting and replanting program using high quality clones with high yields; their teas tend to have a natural sweetness, said to be from the water in the area.
  • Dhunseri Tea Estate – managed by the Dhunseri Group; their tea has won the trust of traders and consumers, due to its superior quality.
  • Glenburn Tea Estate – on a hillock above the banks of the River Rungeet, high in the Himalayas, overlooked by the Kanchenjunga mountain range; started by a Scottish tea company in 1859 and then passed into the hands of one of India’s pioneering tea planting families – The Prakashes.
  • Harmutty Tea Estate – founded in 1870 by Major Gibb; named after Queen Hiramati; Dikrong River is along one side and their northern border extends into the thickly forested hills of Arunachal Pradesh; fertile soil is perfect for growing the carefully selected clonal plants there; the leaves get processed into a range of teas that are full-bodied and flavorful.
  • Keyhung Tea Estate – at 1,500 feet above sea level; produces Broken Orange Pekoe (BOP) Cut, Torn, and Curled (CTC) tea that is strong, full-bodied with excellent maltiness and rich color – perfect for an early morning pick-me-up; garden is in the state’s northeast corner, between the state of Arunachal Pradesh and the country of Myanmar (Burma); it covers nearly 3 square miles, 2 of which are under tea; over 3,000 people are employed in the harvesting and processing of the tea, and a total of 10,000 people call the estate (more like a small town) their home.
  • Mangalam Tea Estate – has a unique style of bush planting; it is managed by Jayshree Tea Industries who uprooted original plantings and replanted with 100% clonal bushes with greater yield potential; the plantings are arranged so that employees can drive from place to place; teas produced are very high quality Assams processed as CTC and Orthodox styles.
  • Mokalbari Tea Estate – founded in 1917, produces premium 2nd flush Assam tea as CTC and Orthodox styles; not to be confused with Makaibari, a Darjeeling tea garden.
  • Satrupa Tea Estate – in Upper Assam, at the eastern-most part of the Assam region; rich red loom soil, year-round tropical wet climate, and old-growth forest all around; on the periphery of the last contiguous rainforest tracts in the Eastern Himalayas.
Tarajulie even looks rich in the dry leaves! (Photo by A.C. Cargill, all rights reserved)

Tarajulie even looks rich in the dry leaves! (Photo by A.C. Cargill, all rights reserved)

There are many more, but this will give you an idea of the tea-growing prowess of this part of India. This is also my favorite class of teas. They can be infused milder or stronger, served over ice or piping hot, stand up to milk and sugar or please your palate as they are, add a lively appeal to a bland tea blend or stand on it’s own. You can’t go wrong.

See more of A.C. Cargill’s articles here.

© Online Stores, Inc., and The English Tea Store Blog, 2009-2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this article’s author and/or the blog’s owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Online Stores, Inc., and The English Tea Store Blog with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Quick – name a tea estate. Yeah, me too. Even though I’ve written about tea for nearly a decade, I find that I’m a bit stumped by that one. The few exceptions would be Tregothnan Estate in Britain, and our very own Charleston Tea Plantation, located in South Carolina. Though admittedly these stand out more for the fact that they are tea estates located in countries where such things are not normally found.

One of the few other tea estates that I personally know by name is Makaibari Tea Estate, in Darjeeling. The Darjeeling region of India, though it produces only a tiny fraction of the tea that issues forth from India’s more productive Assam region, has become synonymous for the most part with high-quality premium varieties of flavorful black tea.

As they claim at their web site, in a brief overview evocatively titled The Magical Mystical Makaibari, the estate “is the world’s first tea factory and was established in 1859.” Real Darjeeling tea (as opposed to the substantial amounts that are said to be counterfeited) generally sells at something of a premium, compared to many tea varieties. But some of the teas that come from Makaibari, and in particular their Silver Tips Imperial, take the notion of premium to a new level, with prices that are measured in multiples of many other Darjeeling teas.

As the company notes at their web site, Silver Tips Imperial is the world’s most expensive tea. As they put it, “Two decades of passionate devotion has resulted in the ultimate tea experience. Plucked under full moon beams, the blaze of Silver Tips Imperial highlights the subtleties of Darjeeling terroir, imperiously.”

Which paints a very nice picture indeed, though it should be noted that this and others of the company’s teas can be purchased directly from their site at comparatively reasonable prices. Nowadays the company is passing from the hands of Swaraj Kumar Banerjee, who took over the operation in 1970. Their long standing reputation goes a long way toward explaining why the new owners – the Luxmi Group, also of India – say that Makaibari “is the jewel in what is called the golden mile of the most important grow region in the world. If Darjeeling is the champagne of teas, Makaibari is the Krug or Henri Giraud.”

See more of William I. Lengeman’s articles here.

© Online Stores, Inc., and The English Tea Store Blog, 2009-2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this article’s author and/or the blog’s owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Online Stores, Inc., and The English Tea Store Blog with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Tea growing in the Himalaya area has been underway for more than a century. And now the battle is on to see if people can tell the difference in the flavor of the teas grown in one part of that region versus another. I would think they could. After all, the island nation of Taiwan, which has a much smaller land area, boasts many teas from a large number of tea plant cultivars and having their own unique flavor profiles! But only side-by-side tastings will tell the truth here.

Sikkim tea garden (Stock image)

Sikkim tea garden (Stock image)

The Himalayan mountains were formed by the collision of the Indian tectonic plate with the Eurasian plate and now abut or cross six countries: Bhutan, China, Nepal, India and Pakistan. The name “Himalaya” means house or abode of snow. Very fitting since the range has some of the highest peaks in the world, including Mt. Everest, and sports a top hat of snow on most of them through much of the year. Nepal is almost entirely in the Himalayas and is becoming quite a tea-growing area, especially in its easternmost part. As discussed in my previous article, a number of gardens are gaining attention in the tea world. The growing conditions and terrain (steep hillsides and high elevations) are similar to those in the Darjeeling region of West Bengal in northern India. That region is in the foothills of the Himalayas and have had great conditions for tea growing for over 167 years.

The state of Sikkim lies just north of West Bengal and is a new addition to India. Their tea comes from the Temi Tea Garden in Ravangla. It was established by the Sikkim government in 1969 and is laid over a gradually sloping hill that was once a Sherpa village and about 10 acres of tree nurseries, with Scottish missionaries having been in the area in the early 1900s (some of their buildings are still there today). The tea is all top quality and considered to be one of the best in India and the world. Some is marketed under the trade name “Temi Tea.”

Nearby is Dooars, where teas are also grown. It’s to the east of the Darjeeling region and also in the Himalayas. Tea is part of their economic threesome (tea, timber, and tourism). Their tea gardens were originally planted by the British who were ever anxious to keep an ample supply flowing in. Laborers came in from neighboring areas, including Nepal. Demand for teas grown in Dooars is increasing around the world, and they are available as orthodox style and CTC style. They have a character like Assam tea and some of the unique aroma and sweetness of Darjeeling tea.

As far as I can tell, these are it for tea growing, but if I’ve missed any, please let me know. I have certainly tried quite a few Darjeeling teas by now. And recently I received a number of Nepalese teas to try. No Sikkim or Dooars yet. As for tasting a difference, nothing too conclusive, since it would be based on a small sample. You’ll just have to do a bit of a taste test for yourself and see. The European Union is certainly claiming there is no difference and using that claim to justify a move to affect pricing. And so it goes in the world of tea, a beverage said to calm and invigorate all at once. I think those EU folks need to drink more tea and get calm… but wait, they already seem over-invigorated. Well, it’s a battle that only time will settle. Meanwhile, enjoy a nice cuppa whichever suits you!

See more of A.C. Cargill’s articles here.

© Online Stores, Inc., and The English Tea Store Blog, 2009-2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this article’s author and/or the blog’s owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Online Stores, Inc., and The English Tea Store Blog with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

India is large and varied, with many languages, cultures, and languages. Crowned by the Himalayas along the northern border, the country stretches down to the Laccadive Sea and the neighboring island nation of Sri Lanka. As expected, tea cultivation reaches even to one of the newest states in the country.

Sikkim teas (From Yahoo! Images)

Sikkim teas (From Yahoo! Images)

About Sikkim

The state of Sikkim (Shikim, Su Khyim) is part of that mountainous “crown,” nestled in a part of India between the countries of Nepal and Bhutan. Tibet lies just north, and the Indian state of West Bengal is on the south. The name “Sikkim” means “new house” in the Limbu language. The culture and scenery make it a great tourist spot, and with a climate that goes from subtropical to high alpine, it has a tremendous diversity of plants. Buddhism was introduced to the people there in the 700s AD by Guru Rinpoche. The Namgyal monarchy was established in 1642, fulfilling a prophecy by Rinpoche, at least according to legend. They endured raids and loss of territory to their Nepalese neighbors (who make up an ethnic majority of the population even now) over the next century and a half until the British stepped in and made them a protectorate. The monarchy was abolished in 1975 when Sikkim became part of India.

Sikkim, a little state in the Himalayas. (screen capture from site)

Sikkim, a little state in the Himalayas. (screen capture from site)

Most of the economy there is dependent on agriculture, with a number of crops being grown. Sikkim outpaces the rest of India in the production of cardamom, a much prized spice used in dishes ranging from curries to desserts to spiced tea (masala chai). Tea is grown mainly in one garden: the Temi.

Temi Tea Garden

The garden was started in the mid 1960s as a government project and remains a government owned estate. It employs over 400 skilled workers, covers 500 acres of mostly steep hill sides (1,000-1,200 meters elevation) cut into terraces for the planting, and produces tea that is mostly sold at the Kolkata Auction Centre, commanding premium prices due to their sweet aroma, light liquor and that wonderful muscatel flavor (with a fuller body than Darjeeling teas). Most of this (about 75%) is sold domestically. The best grade produced is the early season STGFOP1. Lesser grades are said to steep up an amber/coppery/golden liquid with a toasty, layered flavor and earthy aroma with hints of biscuit.

Main versions:

  • Black Tea
  • Clonal First Flush Black Tea (sold by the year)
  • First Flush Black Tea
  • Golden Tips Black Tea

Start with any of these for a wonderful tea experience.

See more of A.C. Cargill’s articles here.

© Online Stores, Inc., and The English Tea Store Blog, 2009-2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this article’s author and/or the blog’s owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Online Stores, Inc., and The English Tea Store Blog with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Giving the English Tea Store's Nonsuch Estate Nilgiri a try. (photo by William I. Lengeman, III - all rights reserved)

Giving the English Tea Store’s Nonsuch Estate Nilgiri a try. (photo by William I. Lengeman, III – all rights reserved)

I have mixed feelings about India’s teas. If I had to pick a variety of tea that’s disappointed me the most over the years, I’d go with Darjeeling. I’ve only been drinking tea for about eight years now and in the early days I found myself quite impressed with the unique flavor profile of this distinctive variety of black tea that’s grown in northern India. Lately though, I can barely bring myself to prepare the samples of Darjeeling that come my way. I even went so far as to document my falling out with Darjeeling tea last year.

On the other hand I’m a huge fan of the tea that’s produced in the Assam region of India, one of the world’s greatest single tea-growing regions and my absolute favorite. At my own site over the course of the years I’ve even devoted two separate months to exploring all things Assam.

Then there’s Nilgiri. If the name doesn’t ring a bell, that’s probably not surprising. With all due respect to the good tea growers of India’s third region, it’s safe to say they’re overshadowed by the premium teas of Darjeeling and the sheer quantity of tea turned out in Assam.

My own experience with Nilgiri tea has been somewhat limited and, while I wouldn’t go so far as to say I disliked any of them, my recollection is that I found them to be kind of so-so. Like the teas grown in those other parts of India, nearly everything that comes out of Nilgiri is a black tea. Which is fine by me, as a dedicated cheerleader for all manner of this type of tea.

The curious thing about this Nilgiri variety from the Nonsuch Estate is that it could (and did) pass for a Darjeeling tea. I’d somehow formed the mistaken impression that it actually was a Darjeeling and my first version of this review treated it as such. The first time I sampled it I liked it well enough and I was actually willing to re-revise my opinion of what I thought was Darjeeling tea, but I wasn’t exactly blown away.

The second time I tried it I found that I liked it quite a bit more than the last time. Like so many actual Darjeeling teas, it has a light (for a black tea) flavor profile but with a very smooth texture and mouthfeel and none of the bitterness, thin flavor, or astringency that I still tend to associate with that type of tea.

So you can call it Darjeeling if you’d like or you can refer to it by its correct name but I’d give it a thumbs up either way.

See more of William I. Lengeman’s articles here.

© Online Stores, Inc., and The English Tea Store Blog, 2009-2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this article’s author and/or the blog’s owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Online Stores, Inc., and The English Tea Store Blog with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Buckingham Palace Garden Party Loose Leaf Tea (photo by A.C. Cargill, all rights reserved)

Buckingham Palace Garden Party Loose Leaf Tea (photo by A.C. Cargill, all rights reserved)

We think of Camellia Sinensis var. assamica teas as those grown in the state of Assam in northern India. But this varietal of the tea plant is also grown elsewhere and, due to that alternate growing environment, can taste rather different from those grown in Assam.

The assamica varietal is raised in these locations (and others):

  • Assam state in northern India — basically “ground zero” for assamica teas.
  • Sri Lanka (formerly Ceylon) — some sinensis varietal grown here, but assamica does better in their climate.
  • Yunnan province in southern China — mostly made into pu-erh (but not all pu-erhs are made from assamica leaves), a tea that is sometimes classified as a black tea but is actually in a class by itself, being post-processing fermented.
  • Laos, which borders Yunnan — also mostly made into pu-erh.
  • Myanmar (formerly Burma), which borders Yunnan — also mostly made into pu-erh.
  • North Vietnam, which borders Yunnan — a pleasant and sweet aroma similar to some cheaper Yunnan teas but more body and a darker color.
  • African countries, including Kenya, Zimbabwe, and Rwanda — They are often blended with those grown in Assam, India, since they have a similar malty character but tend to steep up less bitter. Kenya began planting Assam tea from seeds brought over in the early 20th century. Zimbabwe began theirs at the tea estate called New Year’s Gift in 1924.
  • Thailand — assamica is used to make “Thai tea” and is considered inferior to teas grown in northern areas of Thailand.
Irish Breakfast (photo by A.C. Cargill, all rights reserved)

Irish Breakfast (photo by A.C. Cargill, all rights reserved)

Unlike the Chinese varietal Camellia Sinensis var. sinensis, typically ranging in size from a shrub to small tree, the Indian varietal Camellia Sinensis var. assamica, while usually kept trimmed to a more easily harvested shrub, can grow into a large tree. The flowers are mostly single in leaf axils and can bloom from late Autumn to early Spring. Assamica leaf sizes can be as large as 20 centimeters and tend to be tougher than the sinensis varietal.

There is a Cambodian plant (sometimes called C. sinensis parvifolia) that is in-between the Assam and Chinese varieties; it is a small tree with several stems and is considered a hybrid of the assamica and sinensis varietals.

A few blends featuring assamica teas:

  • Irish Breakfast — Whether you go for a generic version (Kenyan and Assam grown assamicas) or a brandname like Bewley’s (Assam and Darjeeling teas) and Barry’s (Kenyan and Assam grown assamicas), you will be treated to a ruby-colored liquid, a strong and malty aroma, and a rich flavor that stands up well to milk and sweetener when steeped a full 5 minutes or that can be enjoyed straight when steeped lighter for only 2 or 3 minutes.
  • Buckingham Palace Garden Party Loose Leaf Tea — They’re probably toasting the birth of the latest member of the British Royal Family with this one. A blend of high-grown pure Ceylon flavored with oil of Bergamot, Fujian jasmine scented tea, a wonderfully malty Assam from Borengajuli Estate, Dimbula Ceylon from Hatton, and East of Rift Kenyan (Kambaa and Kagwe). Very celebratory indeed!
  • French Blend Tea — You get a rich tapestry of flavors here. Start with teas from Sri Lanka, Nilgiri, Assam, and Kenya. Add in a jasmine scented tea from China. Give it a touch of crème de la vanille, Earl Grey (oil of bergamot), rose petals, and lavender. You get a flowery character and malty notes. You also get a very perfumy cup that will transport you to the Champs Elysée. Don’t forget to enjoy a flaky croissant while there!

Yes, assamica teas are truly universal. Enjoy one today!

See more of A.C. Cargill’s articles here.

© Online Stores, Inc., and The English Tea Store Blog, 2009-2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this article’s author and/or the blog’s owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Online Stores, Inc., and The English Tea Store Blog with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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© Online Stores, LLC, and The English Tea Store Blog, 2009-2017. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Online Stores, LLC., and The English Tea Store Blog with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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