BEHIND THE CRAFT
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Tea Craft: When is Tea Picked?

Picking tea leaves is not just about harvesting tea that will make it to your cup. It’s a key part of the lifecycle of the tea bush.

The timing of the pick is crucial for quality - in China it's said that ‘three days early it is treasure, three days late it is grass’ - and to ensure the start of the germination of new leaves at just the right time.

In countries like Kenya where the climate is similar all year, there is growth all year and picking every fortnight. In countries with seasons, the tea plant is dormant for part of the year, until it ‘flushes’ into life and new shoots emerge; picking can start.

Different countries revere different flushes or harvests - the 1st flush in Darjeeling in Spring is considered to be the most flavoursome, whilst it’s the 2nd flush in Assam that is most prized.

Find out more about how tea is picked.

FGTE13340

Nilgiri Frost Black Tea Pouch 100g

Net Weight: 100g

A large leaf black tea from Southern India, Nilgiri Frost is produced at the highest elevations and is picked only after the coldest nights of winter. A rare and unusual subtle-tasting tea with floral hints.

The East India Company - Lifestyle

Food and Beverages

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£30.00
A rare and unusual tea from the Nilgiri Hills or Blue Mountain region of southern India.

It was a British soldier, Colonel John Ouchterlony, serving under Arthur Wellesley the Duke of Wellington, who was tasked with setting up a sanitorium in the Nilgiri mountains for British soldiers.

Whilst there, he recognised the opportunity and established tea planting in the idyllic environment, the conditions being perfect for successful tea cultivation – altitude, consistent rainfall and a varied ecosystem that ensured fertile soil.
Many high-quality black teas are produced in Nilgiri, but Nilgiri Frost is unusual and special.

During the winter months, large tea leaves of the local Chinese cultivar variety are picked at night only during a frost, so they are actually still slightly frozen when they arrive at the factory.

Defrosting and withering at the same time (see our Stories section below for more on withering) helps the leaf retain more of the aromatic top notes, for which Nilgiri Frost is distinctive.
An unusual looking black tea - dark orthodox tea leaves with green and yellow edges and flakes.

A light, golden liquor in cup.

Very aromatic, mild and mellow flavour with hints of honey.
Quantity

2.5 GRAMS OF TEA LEAVES PER CUP

Temperature

200ML OF WATER AT 100ºC

Brewing Time

3 MINS BREWING TIME

Ingredients

Black Tea

Storage

Store in a cool, dry place avoiding direct sunlight and strong odours.

Stories

What makes Black Tea black?

It all starts with a small ‘just-plucked’ green tea leaf, usually about 5 cm long, delivered fresh by the picker to the local factory for processing. Whilst varying by region, there are always 5 core steps to making a Black Tea.

Step 1 - ‘Withering’: the leaves are spread out in warm air for up to a day to reduce the water content by about 20%. The leaves wilt and lose some of the vibrant green colour.

Step 2 - ‘Rolling’: the wilted leaves are soft and malleable and are placed in an ‘orthodox’ rolling machine. It presses the leaf and breaks down the cell walls, releasing the enzymes required to start the oxidation process. Sometimes the leaf is broken more by a rotavane ‘mincing’ machine that produces smaller grades of tea. If a very small teabag grade is required, a Cut-Tea-Curl machine is used.
Step 3 - ‘Oxidation’ [not fermentation, which requires a microbe involvement]: takes half an hour or so depending on the conditions. Chemical reactions are now creating the natural chemicals that deliver flavour and [reputed!] health benefits. The leaf darkens, just like a cut apple after a few minutes.

Step 4 - ‘Firing’: the oxidised tea is fed into a dryer at about 120 Celsius. This does 3 things - it destroys the enzymes, so oxidation stops; secondly it removes nearly all the water [about 3% remains]; and thirdly, it darkens the colour from light brown to dark to almost black, depending on the length of firing.

Step 5 - Sorting: tea exits the firing process in different sizes, which will complicate brewing - hence the last stage of the process is grading – fired tea is poured into the top of a sifting machine with different mesh sizes from top to bottom. It vibrates and the different sized tea leaves are separated as the tea travels from top to bottom, the biggest leaves being left the top.

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  • FAQ

    Does this tea contain caffeine and is there more or less than in coffee?
    Yes, all tea like coffee, contains caffeine. The amount in both teas and coffees does vary, depending on the type, but typically Sri Lankan black tea is lighter than other teas in caffeine content, usually between 50 and 90mg for a normally brewed 230ml serving. This compares to about 95mg for a normal cup of coffee. The best advice is to treat tea and coffee similarly if you need to manage your caffeine intake.

    I’ve heard that tea contains theanine. What is it and what does it do?
    Tea does indeed contain theanine, which is an amino acid [the building blocks of proteins]. Tea is one of only a few sources of theanine. It represents about 1% of dry weight and is at its highest concentrate in shade-grown teas like matcha and gyokuro. Whilst not yet proven in scientific studies that would permit specific health claims to be made, it is believed by many to be able to reduce mental and physical stress, promote relaxation and a sense of well-being. But not only that, it is more recently being thought to aid cognitive function. It’s one explanation for tea’s famous ability to create calm in a crisis [the Great British solution to all problems – ‘putting the kettle on’] and to stimulate when a little boost is required.

  • Delivery & Returns

    UK Standard Delivery: £3.95
    UK Next Day Delivery (mainland UK only): £9.95 (Order before 12pm)
    International Delivery is available, please see our delivery page for details. For more information and Terms & Conditions, please see our Delivery page.

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