You should definitely try this Frost Tea – it is unique and special. Its flavor is delicious. It is vegetal without maltiness or heaviness. The flavor is clean and crisp, and milk can be added, although frost teas really shine when drunk ‘neat’ (plain). The color of the steeped liquor is remarkable and will make you want to drink it down quickly, but you should savor the tea, as it has a very special and complex layering of flavors. Florals, green herbs, a bit of grassy or herbaceousness, all together in one sip! The leaf is medium-large in size and quite even with just a bit of tip.
Parkside Estate lies in the heart of the Nilgiri Mountains, along the Western Ghats of southern India. This starkly beautiful and nonetheless rich topography is home to some of India’s most unusual tea bushes (similar to the recently-revitalized Doke region in the north). Fresh leaf from a particular local tea bush cultivar is used to make Parkside’s famous ‘Frost Tea’. Only certain cultivars are used to produce the winter-plucked leaf that becomes a frost tea from the Nilgiri region, as the seasonality of the local tea bushes requires that they flush at the unusual time of deep winter.
Due to the cold weather and bright sunny days at this time of year in the Nilgiri, the bushes that have been cultivated to thrive there bud up and flush, even though the temperature and the sun is low. Similar to the China jat cultivars used in eastern China for cool temperature tea production there, the leaf needed for Nilgiri tea production thrives on the copious moisture and shorter day length of the two growing seasons that the Nilgiri affords.
This unusual and absolutely delicious sub-category of black tea is noteworthy because of the clean, dry and pure flavor that it offers. Here at Tea Trekker we became very excited about the frost teas of Parkside more than a decade ago when Mary Lou attended the first and only tea auction to occur on US soil. On March 29th 2006 in Las Vegas Nevada, Mary Lou purchased several lots of excellent Nilgiri tea for us to offer to our tea enthusiasts of the time. The Nilgiri Planters Association had sent samples of 84 teas from their association members to selected tea merchants in the US who had responded to a request to attend the auction. Mary Lou and I had sampled all 84 and knew which teas we wanted. Mary Lou was able to purchase all of the ones we liked, plus one other that she surprised me with!
Parkside Estate’s Frost Tea was one of the teas that we purchased then and we are very happy to have tracked it down again – because it is as special now as it was then! This many years later we still get excited thinking about this new frontier opportunity that she participated in and the many delicious teas from Nilgiri that we had for several years after. The teas from Nilgiri ‘disappeared’ again after four or five years, and for quite a while the premium grades of Nilgiri teas were as difficult to source as they were ‘back in the day’. But, luckily for now, this tea, the Parkside Estate Fancy, is back again, and we are thrilled to be able to drink it and offer it to you.
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