(W) Nilgiri Kukicha
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Nilgiri Kukicha | Roasted Green Twig Tea
Taste: Toasted chestnut & black licorice
Origin: Nilgiri mountains of Southern India
Tea Maker: Tea Studio
Steep 1 1 Tbsp /2.5 g | 8 oz | 210° F | 3.5 min
Steep 2 8 oz | 210° F | 4.5 min
Certifications: None (organically grown, verified through testing)
Nilgiri Kukicha is an Indian version of the classic Japanese twig tea of the same name. Made by the all-woman team at Tea Studio using just the stems of the tea plant, it has a strong, clean taste of black licorice.
Tasting Notes: Similar to its cousin, Nilgiri Forest, this tea begins with a calming nutty bouquet that continues into the sip. Next is where the Kukicha separates itself from the Forest, as the palate experiences toasted chestnuts quickly followed by strong notes of black licorice and cloves. This tea has a surprisingly dry texture and a truly unique flavor. The clean, strong finish is one to remember. Because caffeine is concentrated in the leaves of the tea plant, this tea contains a lower caffeine content than most. Lovers of Japanese Kukicha and Genmaicha will likely enjoy this one.
Production: Kukicha is a roasted twig tea made from only the stems of the tea plant. The Japanese were the first to pioneer this style of non-leaf tea, which is now popular across the globe. True to Tea Studio’s innovative nature, they’ve taken an international inspiration and run with it to make something entirely their own. The all-woman team of tea makers begin by painstakingly separating the stems and leaves from the harvested tea by hand. The woody material is panned and flattened using specialized techniques that bring out a much darker flavor profile than the traditional Japanese Kukicha. Tea Studio also makes a slightly lighter version of this tea, Nilgiri Forest.
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.
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.
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