Nilgiri tea is described as being a dark, intensely aromatic, fragrant and flavoured tea grown in the southern portion of the Western Ghats mountains of Southern India. It is grown in the hills of the Nilgiris district of Tamil Nadu, though there are numerous other tea-growing districts in South India as well, including Munnar and Central Travancore, further south in Kerala state.
Tea plantations in Nilgiri District (as in other growing districts of India) typically own and operate their own processing factories. Small growers sell their tea as green leaf to “bought leaf factories”, which are independently owned.
The expensive hand-sorted, full-leaf versions of the tea like the Orange Pekoe (O.P.) are highly sought after at international auctions making it unaffordable for most locals. However, most production occurs via the Crush, Tear, Curl or CTC process of manufacture, which delivers a higher number of cups per measure (technically known as cuppage). The strong flavours of Nilgiri tea make it useful for blending purposes.