Country of Origin: Sri Lanka
Region: Nuwara Eliya
Shipping Port: Colombo
Grade: FBOP (Flowery Broken Orange Pekoe)
Altitude: 6800 feet above sea level
Manufacture Type: Orthodox
Cup Characteristics: A classic example of the best of Ceylon tea. Well-made leaf with ‘bloom’ yields a flavory astringent cup with superb point. Recognized as ‘Estate of the Year’ in 2002.
Infusion: Bright tending light
Ingredients: Luxury black tea
Kenmare, for those of you who’ve visited Ireland, is a name usually associated with a town in County Kerry. In fact, the town was the birthplace of one of the pioneering planters of Kenmare tea. While Kenmare is correctly labeled an estate tea, the name does not actually refer to the estate on which it is produced. Rather, Kenmare is a sales mark of Concordia Estate, also named after a town in the British Isles. The estate is situated in the Nuwara Eliya district of Sri Lanka, near Piduruthalagala, the country’s tallest mountain. The gardens there are known for producing two levels of tea. Without intending to sound facetious, these are high quality and exceptionally high quality. As it is, the exceptionally high quality product is Kenmare with the merely high quality product going under the sales mark Hethersett, named after a town in Scotland. (Noticed a trend yet? The UK based names, combined with the cool wet climate of the Sri Lankan hill country, gave birth to the region’s colloquial name of Little England.)
Concordia was first planted in 1954 at an elevation of 6800 feet above sea level. In recent years, annual production has reached roughly 1,500,000 pounds of finished tea – enough for about 272 million cups! The estate’s best, read Kenmare, is grown between January to March when the weather is sunny, and cool and July to September when the estate is peppered by westerly winds originating on the eastern plains of Sri Lanka. In 2002, largely based on its Kenmare offering, Concordia was named Sri Lanka’s Estate of the Year. The Kenmare offering also led to an approval by the Fair Trade Labeling Organization.
As for the world markets, Kenmare is highly sought after by traders for its outstanding liquor, bright character and highly flavoury cup. In the same way that you simply can’t buy a poor quality official Swiss Gruyère, appellation controlled Bordeaux or Chianti Classico, you won’t find a bad cup of Kenmare.