Jane Pettigrew introduces Indian Green Twirl Tea
Canton Tea Club Week 1: Green Twirl
We are delighted to launch the Canton Tea Club with an Indian green tea chosen by Jane Pettigrew, tea expert, historian and writer. Jane has written 13 books on the production, history and culture of tea and is renowned worldwide for her wealth of knowledge on this subject.
Jane: I first tasted this unusual green tea from Southern India with friends in the Czech Republic and then I came across it again while preparing for a presentation in London this summer with the Tea Board of India. Along with its sisters, White Tea and Virgin Green, it had been submitted as a potential tea to taste with an audience of approximately 60 tea traders, producers, retailers and journalists who gathered to share their love of Indian teas. Since the Nilgiri tea estates are so famous for their black orthodox teas, it was a wonderful surprise to taste ‘Green Twirl’ and discover a delicate and refined sweetness in both the aroma and the taste. Carefully gathered from plants that are grown on Rainforest Alliance certified land at the Billimalai Tea Estate in Nilgiri, the hand-picked leaves are beautifully neat and even and are flecked with silver. The liquor has no astringency, no bitterness – just an enticing and very satisfying, deliciously fruity sweetness!
We all tend to think of China and Japan as the main origins of green teas but producers all around the world are now trying their hands at making them. Indian tea producers are extremely skilled at manufacturing wonderful black teas from Darjeeling, Assam and Nilgiri. But harvesting the leaf that is usually turned into those familiar blacks and working with it to produce good green teas is a real challenge and demands patience and tenacity. It takes research, experimentation, trial and error to decide how the various processing steps must be adjusted to achieve the best results. It’s easy to actually manufacture green tea but, if badly or carelessly made, it will taste bitter, harsh, even metallic – especially if made from the assamica varietal – and it will be unpleasant to drink. In Nilgiri, most of the original tea plants were bred from assamicas and it is much harder to turn the leaf into green teas that offer wonderful mild, clean, sweet green notes without the bitterness. And so, as we sip – with such pleasure – a great green like Green Twirl, we must recognize all the dedicated work that has gone into manufacturing such an excellent tea and say a silent ‘thank you’ to the producers!