Winter is a time of rest for tea plants. When it’s cold, and days are short with no humidity, no leaves are produced. Tea is photosensitive and needs nearly 11 hours of day light to sprout leaves. In Darjeeling, autumn ends around November when plucking stops and the tea gardens enter the skiffing or pruning stages. In Assam, the estate enters a resting phase in mid-December, when along with pruning of the tea bushes, the factories see some overhauls. However, the Nilgiris down south is busy producing some of its exquisite winter teas at this time.
Located in the south, the Nilgiris produce teas through the year. This region is also cold and dry in winter but not as much as the north. So, while the volume of production is low, some very high-quality teas are produced. The winter teas from the Nilgiris are consequently, floral, exquisitely aromatic and flavourful. Specialty white, green, and black tea are produced and recently, oolongs have also begun to make their debut here.
A combination of favorable climate, experienced tea making, new machinery and technology has led to the production of a range of teas. Clonal varieties are also being used to improve the flavors of tea. The Nilgiri winter specialty is the frost teas. These are celebrated for their floral flavors, champagne to sparkling gold and even a deep orange color. They are aromatic, smooth, rounded and balanced teas. Green teas produced during winter are more smooth, vegetal and delicate compared to that of other seasons. The Nilgiri winter white teas are delicate and smooth. The Nilgiri winter oolongs are very floral and smooth. Even the CTC tends to be brisk and aromatic.
If you are choosing a Nilgiri winter tea, look for the grades SFTGFOP, OP, FP, or FOP.
Best Winter Teas
Whether you’re looking for warm spice tea or a calming tea, if you want to know what the best tea for winter is, here is a list top winter teas to help you warm up.
Oolong tea: It has a lovely rich taste and contains niacin, which helps detoxify the body, and antioxidants that can prevent tooth decay. Perfect for anytime during the winter.
White tea: Known for its mild flavor and low caffeine. It’s perfect when you want to curl up and read a book.
Green tea: Known for its antioxidants and various health benefits. It’s best when had in the morning during the cold winter months.
Black tea: Stronger in flavor with high caffeine levels to give you that extra energy during winter.
Herbal tea: Infused with dried fruits, flowers, herbs and spices that make up some of the best warming teas.