Nilgiri Black Pearl
Nilgiri Black Pearl | Premium Black Tea
Taste: Dried cherry & herbaceous bay leaf
Tea Maker: Tea Studio
Steep 1 0.5 Tbsp /2.5 g | 8 oz | 210° F | 3.5 min
Steep 2 8 oz | 210° F | 4 min
Certifications: None (organically grown, verified through testing)
Nilgiri Black Pearl is a whole leaf black tea with pearls that release layers of dried cherries and savory bay leaf as they unfurl. This unique black tea is made by one of India's first female tea producers, Muskan Khanna, who is leading an all-woman tea-making team in the southern Nilgiri mountains.
Tasting Notes: This high-elevation black is defined by its shaped pearls, which give it striking aesthetics and unique cup qualities. Upon steeping, the pearls open, carrying Nilgiri’s signature fruitiness, but with a depth that is redefining expectations for the region’s tea. Notes of dried cherries and dates run through its body, complemented by a savory note of herbaceous bay leaf that lingers into that wonderful space between sips. Drinkers of blacks from China’s Sun Moon Lake are sure to enjoy this rare India black tea
Production: Shaping a tea into pearls allows tea makers to layer the leaf with flavors. The process involves tossing the tea leaf into the air using heated metal pans. This process gives the tea its pearled shape--the leaves first shrink and curl when in contact with the hot metal, and then briefly expand when exposed to the cool air. After three hours of cycling between heating and cooling, the tea emerges as tight balls packed with flavors ready to explode into the cup. The final step is to finish the tea, which is done with a round of direct, dry heat.
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 that allows for year-round growth. 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 and difficult to oversteep. They also don’t get cloudy as they steep, which makes them popular for high-end iced tea. Read our blog about this region here.
Tea Makers: Tea Studio is a state-of-the-art processing facility in the Nilgiris, run by Muskan Khanna and jointly owned by several international partners. Muskan’s father, Indi, has been experimenting with just about every aspect of tea since Muskan was a child--from growing the leaf, to sourcing the equipment, to exporting tea by the container. Indi is a fearless self-made tea man, and Muskan inherited her father’s love for tea. Her creativity and passion is evident in the teas her team makes--they all incorporate traditional Chinese methods and machines. Under Muskan’s leadership, Tea Studio is currently run and operated exclusively by a team of women–rare for the tea industry in any part of the world, let alone India. 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: In a trade dominated by men, Muskan and the all-woman team at Tea Studio show change is possible. They are exercising a level of creativity unheard of in India tea, rethinking every aspect of tea’s production, from the field to the factory. And with women leading the way, social norms are being transformed in Nilgiri villages, as locals see women creating teas that are getting attention from buyers from across the globe. Through Tea Studio’s educational offerings, they are creating opportunities for more small growers to gain the skills needed to make high-quality teas, raising up their entire community.
Packaging: Our teas come in resealable standup pouches with strong moisture and oxygen barriers. All our pouches are made with at least 20% post-consumer recycled milk jugs and water bottles. They are infinitely reusable although not recyclable. They are essentially high-end resealable bags. After you have finished your tea, wash and reuse them to store your car snacks, carry your favorite trail-mix on a hike, or even store odds and ends such as art and craft supplies, batteries and toiletries.