After a very productive and busy couple of months at work, I finally have a few moments today to review an interesting pan-fired green tea that I recently received from Panchura Estates, located in Coonoor, western Tamil Nadu, southern India. See the map below to get an idea of where this beautiful estate is located.
This beautiful, high altitude estate, also known as Kilmelfort, is owned and operated by the Mehta family. The estate consists of 22 hectares (55 acres) of land, and sits at an average altitude of 1,950 meters (6,400 feet) above sea level. Since 2012, the estate has used 100% natural cultivation methods, blending modern organic techniques with traditional Indian techniques, on a combination of Assamica seedling bushes and the CR-6017 cultivar bushes.
Kilmelfort produces orthodox styles of green tea, oolong tea, and silver tips white tea. I received three samples of three different grades of the same style of specialty green tea. After trying each of the grades, the aromas, tastes, and other characteristics of the tea liquid were quite similar. The differences between the grades were more noticeable in the appearance of the dry leaves. This review will focus on the highest grade sample that I received, grade 2, as it is the most interesting to observe in all stages.
Although I was not able to find a website to purchase these products, I was able to locate the estate’s page on LinkedIn, and found their website, mehtaherbs.com, showing all of their products, which range from specialty teas to aloe skin care products.
Let’s get to the review…
The dry leaves vary in color from pale light green to pale gray. The blend consists of large leaf fragments, perhaps some unbroken leaves, a few bare stems, with no buds clearly visible. The leaves are lightly hand twisted, creating a long, curled, yet fluffy appearance. Based on the appearance and aroma of the dry leaves, I am guessing that a cast iron pan is used to fire these leaves. I expect the leaves to show some minor oxidation, as is common with green teas produced in this fashion from south India and Sri Lanka. The aroma is unique, with earthy scents of minerals and iron, dry leather, and touches of dark chocolate, dried figs and barnyard.
Eight grams of dry leaves were placed in an 18 ounce (530 mL) cast iron tetsubin teapot, and infused with 175°F (80°C) water for 2:00 minutes. Subsequent infusions had an additional 30 seconds of time added.
The tea liquid has a golden yellow color, with a slight green tint. The aroma has scents of wet stones, mineral, fresh forest floor, and a touch of lemon or citrus. The body is on the light side of medium, with a clean, silky texture, and a refreshing, revitalizing energy. There is no bitterness, and a light, lemon-like acidity. The taste carries the notes of wet stones, mineral, iron, fresh forest floor, and a touch of lemon. The liquid leaves a metallic taste on the tongue. This is not a negative, as the metallic character has a surprisingly natural, cleansing quality to it. The aftertaste continues the wet stone, mineral character.
The infused leaves vary in color from pale fresh green to fresh forest green. The stems are brown. The blend consists of all large leaf fragments. I did not find any totally unbroken leaves or buds in the mix. The leaves have the hearty texture and thicker midrib of Assamica bush leaves. Some minor oxidation occurred in many of the leaves, as expected, and there are minor signs of slight overfiring on a few of the leaves. The infused leaves carry the fresh, earthy scents of mineral, forest floor, and wet stones, and the touch of dark chocolate is coming through again.
The Kilmelfort Paradise Green Tea is like no green tea that I have had in recent memory. The dominant earthy and mineral characters give a refreshing, cleansing quality to the liquid. The dry leaves are a pleasure to observe. There is clearly a great deal of care put into manufacturing this product, and this is not even the best grade to come from Kilmelfort!
Quick side note, the other grades that I received, grades 3 and 4, had slightly smaller leaf fragments in their blends, and a little less consistency in the fragment size than the grade 2 being reviewed here. With the slightly smaller fragments, the strength of the liquids were slightly stronger, but maintained the same general aromas and tastes.
Thank you to the management at Kilmelfort and Panchura Estates for providing these samples of green tea. Keep up the good work!