| About NPA

| The Nilgiris Planting District

| A Historic Tea Origin

| Genuine Nilgiri Tea

| Nilgiri Tea |

About Nilgiri Planters Association

The Nilgiri Planters Association was founded in the year 1891. The Association represents the organized plantation sector covering a total extent of 6900 hectares, spread over the four Taluks of Nilgiris, namely Ooty, Coonoor, Kotagiri and Kundah, at an average height of 6500 ft. The annual production of the Member Estates is about 16 million kgs of Orthodox Teas.

The Member Estates are located in the Geographical Indication region of Nilgiri (Orthodox) Tea registered under the Geographical Indication of goods (Registration and Protection) Act.

The Nilgiris Planting District

The Nilgiris, quite literally meaning "Blue Mountains", are one of the most spectacular ranges in the Western Ghats of India, and the geographic origin of 'Nilgiri' tea.

The Nilgiris form the heart of plantation country in South India. The Nilgiri plateau averages about 6500 feet, with an east-west length of about 40 miles as it links the two Ghat ranges, and a north-south extent of about 25 miles. The plateau is broken up by several district ranges of hills, the Dodabetta and Kundah ranges being the best known. There are several pretty streams and rivers lacing the plateau, all of them draining into the Cauvery, the mighty river of peninsular India.

Tea carpets the hills at elevations ranging between 1158 metres and 2400 metres. Some of the highest yielding estates in India, and perhaps in the world, are situated in this district. Although most parts of the Nilgiris get only 100 cm 120 cm of rainfall per annum, it is generally well distributed, allowing for good crops round the year.

This region gets both the South-West and the North-East monsoon, which impart distinct flavors in different months. In South India, tea is picked throughout the year, unlike North India where production shuts down during the winter months of December through February, so Nilgiri specialty producers can ensure a steady and continuous supply.

A Historic Tea Origin

To John Sullivan, then Collector of Coimbatore, goes the credit of establishing a "hill station” at Ootacamund in 1820, the first British settlement in the Nilgiri Hills.

In 1832, Assistant Surgeon, Christie, ordered some tea plants from China, noticing that the Camellia, which closely resembles tea, grew well on the Nilgiris. However, before they could arrive, he died; latyer in 1835 some of these plants were successfully nurtured at an experimental farm at Ketti.

On a commercial scale, the first tea estate was established at Coonoor by Mr Mann, who had procured a good supply of high quality tea seeds from China. Thiashola was opened in 1859, and around the same time Dunsandle was opened near Kalhatty by Mr Rae. In the Kotagiri area, the first estate was opened around 1863. Another early tea estate was Nonsuch, where sixty acres was planted in the 1860s.

For a while, coffee planting took precedence in the Nilgiris, green coffee being the only produce that could be moved out without spoiling. Thereafter, bugs, borers, leaf rust and price fluctuations took their toll on coffee cultivation, while significant advances in tea manufacture led to a number of factories being set up in the district, leading to an expansion in tea acreage between 1904 and 1911. A combination of several factors – elevation, climate, soil has contributed to the Nilgiris being naturally conducive for tea cultivation. Tea has proved a winner in these hills, with a major increase in acreage during the 1980s, much of it in small holdings. Today, this district has 50,000 hectares under tea cultivation, according for 85 million kg of made tea per annum. Of this, NPA members cultivate 6720 hectares representing 13.5% of the total area and 16 million kg of made tea per annum, primarily orthodox, accounting for 19% of total production.

A significant proportion of NPA member estates are planted with clonal tea.

Genuine Nilgiri Tea

The NPA Certification Trademark

The certification trademark of the Nilgiri Planters' Association (NPA) has special significance. The distinctive graphic incorporates three symbolic elements

  • Mountains, to connote the Nilgiri 'Blue Mountains', the section of the Western Ghats of Indai which is the geographic origin of Nilgiri tea;
  • Two leaves and a bud, the standard for hand-picked tea
  • The Nilgiri tahr in silhouette.

The Nilgiri tahr is one of the most unique animals in the world, found in only in the Western Ghats of India. Also called ibex, the Nilgiri tahr is a stocky goat, with distinctive horns. Listed as Endangered in the IUCN Red List of Threatened Mammals, this unique animal has received extensive protection in recent years, and the numbers are on the rise.

The NPA certification mark pays homage to this shy and elusive animal. Nilgiri tea is as unique as this animal; much as the tahr is rare, sighted only by dedicated wildlife enthusiastic, so also the special qualities of Nilgiri orthodox tea are appreciated only by true connoisseurs.

Members of the Association permitted the use of the NPA logo will ensure adherence to the prescribed guidelines of Good Manufacturing and Quality Standards, maximum residue limits of certain pesticides related to tea as per EU norms and will confirm to minimum standards of tea prescribed under the Prevention of Food Adulteration Act, Ethical Assurance Standards and Hygiene and Safety Standards.

N.B. The NPA certification mark is currently in the process of being registered under the Trade Marks Act.

Nilgiri Tea

Brist, Bright, Fragant - And Ethical

Nilgiri orthodox teas have traditionally been considered important in blends.

In recent years, NPA members have progressively moved into specialty tea. The range includes high-value black tea, certified organic tea, golden tips, silver tips, white teas, green teas, oolongs and winter teas. Teas of such high quality they rate as 'self drinking' teas, worthy of 'single origin' distinction.

Characterized by high altitude and low rainfall, the Nilgiris yield delicately fragrant and bright teas. In tea tasting terms, they are steady and dependable, pointy liquor with good colour, milk-friendly. Nilgiri teas have an intrinsic quality; they do not cloud, and yet consistently maintain a stable and vivid colour that makes them perfect for ready-to-drink formats. The neutral flavor blends easily with other fruits, scents and flavourings.

The Nilgiris constitute a veritable supermarket of teas; high-end estates offer delicate orthodox teas for select clients while stronger CTC teas are also available.

Tracing these rare teas comes easy in the Nilgiris. NPA members operate heritage estates with consistently high standards of cultivation and manufacture – many are now ISO-certified with HACCP in place. Most estates have a tea factory on site, along with tea tasting facilities. Social infrastructure is visible in schools, hospitals, rural telecom and post offices. NPA member estates adhere to local laws that ensure good wagers, perquisites, workers' rights and job security; 'fair trade' is implicit in the system. Sourcing premium tea from an NPA member comes with the assurance of sound social and environmental processes.