I’ve often wondered, “What is Assam tea?” When I first embarked on my tea journey. I discovered that this humble brew originates from the lush, vibrant valleys of Assam in India, a region that contributes a staggering 50% of India’s total tea output.
My experience with Assam tea has invigorated my senses and brought me a deeper appreciation of the fascinating world of teas.
What is Assam Tea?
Assam tea is a renowned Black tea variety sourced from the Assam region in northeastern India, known for its use in breakfast favourites like English breakfast, Irish breakfast, and Earl Grey teas.
Grown from the Camellia sinensis plant, Assam tea distinguishes itself from its counterparts thanks to its unique geographical upbringing, sharing borders with Bangladesh, Myanmar, and China.
This widely acclaimed tea captures the essence of breakfast teas, particularly the Irish type, typically made entirely from Assam tea. However, Assam tea’s charm lies in its flexibility. It can either dominate the brew or blend seamlessly with teas from China, Ceylon, Africa, and Indonesia, depending on the producer. It’s even featured in boba teas and the traditional masala chai, highlighting its remarkable adaptability.
“Flush” in tea harvesting corresponds to different harvest periods. Assam loose leaf tea undergoes two to three flushes annually. The initial spring flush yields a delicate, floral taste. Yet, the most coveted is the second flush during summer, from May to August, producing the esteemed “tippy tea” with its golden leaf tips, a testament to Assam tea’s excellence and allure.
What does assam tea taste like?
Assam tea is known for its robust and bold character, characterized by a malty taste. The term “full-bodied” refers to its richness and complexity, typically associated with black tea. Assam tea is frequently incorporated into tea blends to provide a stronger foundation and enhance the overall flavor profile.
Now that we understand Assam tea, let’s delve into its fascinating origins.
Assam Tea Origin & History
The tea industry in Assam is about 172 years old. The introduction of the Assam tea bush to Europe is related to Robert Bruce, a Scottish adventurer, who encountered it in 1823. While trading in the region, Bruce reportedly found the plant growing “wild” in Assam. Maniram Dutta Barua ( Maniram Dewan) directed him to the local Singpho chief Bessa Gam. Bruce noticed local people (the Singhpos) brewing tea from the leaves of the bush and arranged with the local chiefs to provide him with samples of the leaves and seeds, which he planned to have scientifically examined.
Robert Bruce passed away before the plant could be correctly categorized. It wasn’t until the early 1830s that his brother, Charles, sent some Assam tea leaves to Calcutta’s botanical gardens for thorough analysis. It was there that they finally identified the plant as a tea variety, known as Camellia sinensis var. assamica, distinct from the Chinese type (Camellia sinensis var. Chinese).
The total area under tea cultivation in Assam accounts for more than half of the country’s total area under tea. Assam leaf tea alone produces more than half of India’s tea production. Assam’s estimated annual average tea production is 630- 700 million kg.
Having discovered its roots, let’s explore how you can enjoy Assam loose leaf tea.
Types of Assam Black Tea: Loose Leaf Vs. Tea Bags
The finest Assam tea, known for its strong flavor, comes in two forms: loose leaves and tea bags. These undergo unique processes, greatly affecting their quality, taste, and how they brew.
|Loose-Leaf Assam Tea (Orthodox)||Assam Tea Bags (CTC)|
|Production Method||Plucking, withering, rolling, oxidation, drying||Tea leaves are cut, torn, and curled|
|Flavour Profile||Brisk, bright, full-bodied||Intense and robust|
|Oxidation||Controlled oxidation process, fully oxidised||Fully oxidised due to cellular rupture|
|Form||Loose leaf||Tea bags|
|Brewing Characteristics||Offers a nuanced tea-drinking experience||
Infuses quickly, suitable for fast-paced preparation
|Quality Perception||Often considered superior due to the intricate process and subtlety in flavor||
Viewed as less subtle, but more convenient for quick brewing
Loose-leaf Assam tea, traditionally processed using the “orthodox” method, is often regarded as superior to the variant prepared through the CTC (cut, tear, curl) method, commonly found in tea bags.
This orthodox process involves several intricate steps: plucking, withering, rolling, oxidation, and drying. Each step delicately moulds the tea’s flavor, culminating in a brisk, bright, full-bodied beverage.
A pivotal step in this process is oxidation, also known as “fermentation.” Controlled heat and humidity drive this enzymatic reaction, creating numerous flavor compounds that enhance the tea’s complexity and fullness. The level of oxidation dictates the tea’s color and strength; green teas remain unoxidized, jasmine tea experiences slight oxidation, oolong tea goes through partial oxidation, and fully oxidized teas like Assam turn into black teas.
Contrastingly, the CTC method involves running the tea leaves through rollers equipped with sharp teeth, producing small, hard pellets rather than the leaf strips yielded by the conventional method. This CTC variant is an excellent fit for tea bags due to its potent flavour and quick infusion capabilities.
While the CTC method also results in fully oxidised tea, due to the cellular rupture of the tea leaves by the rollers, it lacks the refined subtlety of teas prepared through the conventional method. This leads to the perception that loose-leaf teas present a more authentic and nuanced tea-drinking experience.
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Beyond its enticing forms, there are many other assam Black tea benefits.
Assam Tea Plant Benefits
Research indicates that Assam tea is densely packed with various beneficial plant compounds. These compounds, including flavonoids, antioxidants, and polyphenols, are believed to provide numerous health benefits.
Assam Black tea nourishes skin, rich in vitamins A and E, contributes to blood purification for a fresh complexion.
Contains potent antioxidants (theaflavins, thearubigins, catechins) to protect cells, reduce inflammation, and promote wellness.
Rich in flavonoids that stimulate metabolic activity, aiding in weight loss and control.
May reduce cholesterol levels and prevent plaque buildup in blood vessels, potentially benefiting heart health.
Contains polyphenolic compounds that may boost the immune system by promoting healthy gut bacteria.
Preliminary studies suggest a role in restricting cancer cell growth, but more research is needed for confirmation.
Certain compounds like theaflavins may have potential in preventing degenerative brain diseases, but further research is required.
|Blood Sugar Control||
Natural antioxidants help regulate blood sugar levels and stimulate insulin production, potentially aiding in diabetes management.
Shows potential in preventing and addressing dental cavities, contributing to better oral care.
Assam Tea for Glowing Skin
Loaded with numerous natural compounds, Assam Black tea nourishes your skin, helping to maintain its vitality. It’s also rich in Vitamins A and E – nutrients renowned for their skin-health benefits.
Assam Black tea in appropriate amounts can contribute to blood purification, resulting in a fresh, healthy, and supple complexion. So, if beautiful skin is on your wish list, it might be time to incorporate Assam Black tea into your daily routine.
Boasts many antioxidants
Assam Tea is unique plant compounds – theaflavins, thearubigins, and catechins – are potent antioxidants that help shield your body from diseases.
Let’s grasp the significance of antioxidants. Our bodies produce free radicals, reactive compounds that are part of natural processes. Excessive levels can harm tissues, accelerate aging, and contribute to diseases.
Enter the antioxidants in Assam tea, your body’s defence against these harmful free radicals. They protect your cells from potential damage and reduce inflammation – often the root cause of many health conditions.
Many health experts believe these antioxidant compounds are the secret behind Black tea’s health benefits. So, sipping Black Assam tea could be a delicious and effective way to support your body’s wellness.
Helps to Lose Weight and Stay in Shape
Assam Black tea is rich in flavonoids, compounds celebrated for their anti-obesity properties. When consumed regularly, these substances can stimulate your body’s metabolic activity, aiding in fat loss and weight control.
If you’re targeting weight loss, drinking Assam Black tea in its purest form – sans milk and sweeteners – could be beneficial. However, it’s always prudent to consult your doctor before making any significant changes to your diet, particularly if you have health concerns or are undergoing medical treatment.
May promote heart health
Assam tea, laden with polyphenolic compounds, may extend its benefits to heart health.
Animal studies indicate that these compounds could help reduce cholesterol levels and prevent plaque buildup in blood vessels, essential factors in maintaining heart health.
In human studies, the findings on the relationship between daily consumption of 3-6 cups of black tea (710-1420 ml) and reduced heart disease risk are mixed. Some research indicates a potential link, while others do not.
The mixed results underscore the necessity for additional research on how black teas, such as Assam, affect heart health. Despite the uncertainties, enjoying a cup of Assam tea could potentially be a heart-friendly habit, but more definitive evidence is required to confirm this connection.
Assam Tea and Immune Function
A cup of Assam tea may boost your immune system courtesy of its polyphenolic compounds. Initial research suggests these compounds function as prebiotics within your digestive tract.
Prebiotics in various foods fosters the growth and upkeep of beneficial gut bacteria. A robust ecosystem of these healthy bacteria is crucial for optimal immune function. They act as guardians against harmful bacteria, warding off potential illnesses.
However, it’s worth noting that the research linking black tea to improved immunity is currently insufficient. Despite promising initial findings, we need more extensive studies to confirm this potential benefit of Assam and other black teas.
Assam Tea and Anticancer Potential
several test-tube and animal studies hint towards this possibility. They suggest that some compounds in black tea might potentially restrict the growth and spread of cancer cells.
Limited human research suggests that drinking black tea regularly may be linked to reduced risks of specific cancers, such as skin and lung cancer. However, to confirm these potential benefits, we require more extensive and comprehensive human studies. These studies are crucial to determine whether black tea, like Assam tea, could indeed have a role in preventing or treating cancer.
It may promote brain health
Preliminary studies suggest that specific compounds in black tea, such as theaflavins, might offer a preventive or therapeutic approach to combating degenerative brain diseases.
In an intriguing development, a recent test-tube study demonstrated that compounds in black tea could inhibit certain enzymes linked to Alzheimer’s disease progression.
While these initial results are promising, it’s important to note that this is an emerging field of study. Hence, a more extensive body of research is required to fully comprehend the role of black tea in bolstering brain health.
Blood Sugar Control
Can Assam black tea help control blood sugar? It appears so, thanks to its rich content of natural antioxidants. These antioxidants contribute to regulating and maintaining blood sugar levels, potentially assisting in diabetes prevention.
This tea contains theaflavins, tannins, and EGCG, which can boost insulin production and help regulate blood sugar levels, potentially improving diabetes management.
Assam Tea for Oral Health
Assam tea has shown potential to prevent and addressing dental cavities. So, as you work towards that perfect smile, consider inviting Assam tea into your oral care routine.
While we relish its benefits, it’s important also to be aware of any potential side effects.
What Are The Side Effects With Assam Black Tea
Despite its numerous benefits, Assam black tea isn’t the best fit for everyone. Let’s explore some potential drawbacks:
Assam tea caffeine content
Assam tea contains caffeine, which might be a downside for those trying to avoid or reduce their consumption of this stimulant. The caffeine content in a 1-cup (240 ml) serving of Assam tea can vary depending on the steeping time, but it usually ranges from 60 to 112 mg.
Generally, a daily intake of up to 400 mg of caffeine doesn’t raise health concerns for most individuals.
However, excessive consumption might lead to anxiety, insomnia, and a rapid heartbeat.
Pregnant individuals are advised to cap their caffeine intake at 200 mg daily.
If you need more clarification about caffeine’s role in your lifestyle, a chat with your healthcare provider could help you decide whether to include Assam tea in your diet.
Potential Impact on Iron Absorption
Tannins, the compounds that lend black tea its signature bitter flavour, are found in high levels in Assam tea.
Some studies suggest that tannins could interfere with iron absorption as they bind with iron in your food. This impact is notably stronger with plant-based iron sources compared to animal sources.
While this isn’t a significant concern for most individuals, those with low iron levels might want to avoid consuming black tea with meals or iron supplements.
Presence of Heavy Metals
Tea may contain aluminum, but the levels can differ between tea types. Excessive aluminum intake can harm bones and nerves, especially in those with kidney issues. Nonetheless, tea-related aluminum toxicity isn’t a widespread worry. To be safe, it’s advisable to consume Assam tea in moderation, as the exact absorption of aluminum from tea is still being studied.
Now, moving on from its health aspects, let’s immerse ourselves in the taste profile of Assam tea.
Buying and Storing
Navigating the nuances of Assam tea isn’t just about appreciating its robust flavor but also about knowing where to buy and how to store it. I’ve learned this from my journey, which I’d love to share.
Assam tea, given its key role in most breakfast teas, is practically ubiquitous, available wherever tea is sold or savoured.
However, for Assam tea specifically labelled as such, I’ve found that it’s often sold in speciality tea shops and online, either by the ounce or gram, bagged or in tins. Some brands have been my trusted companions on this journey, including Vahdam, Ahmad Tea, Davidson’s Organics, Taylors of Harrogate, and Twinings. I’ve purchased them both in-store and online on platforms like Amazon.
I’ve noticed that many Assam teas come with a “second flush” label, denoting its highest quality, and I’ve made it a point to opt for these whenever available.
After buying, the next crucial step is storage. My experience has taught me to keep Assam tea in an airtight, cool, dark container. I’ve been able to store it for up to a year this way, although, for the best flavour, I recommend using it within a few months.
I learned this firsthand. Last year, I brewed some long-stored Assam tea leaves, and to my surprise, their rich flavor remained intact. This taught me the vital role of proper storage in preserving Assam tea’s quality. As a tea enthusiast, I share these tips to enhance your Assam tea journey. By wisely purchasing and storing, you can elevate your Assam tea experience.
I hope you’re excited to get your hands on some Assam tea. However, before we conclude, let’s address some frequently asked questions.
This Indian brew, with its rich, robust flavor, is the backbone for numerous classic tea blends and stands out even on its own.
Its full-bodied nature and invigorating aroma make it an excellent choice for tea novices and connoisseurs.
Try Assam tea if you haven’t already. Its unique characteristics and the journey it takes your taste buds on will leave a lasting impression.
Why not spread the joy if you found this article informative and enjoyable? Please share it with your family and friends so they can delve into the wonderful world of Assam tea.
And if you have any experiences, anecdotes, or tips about Assam tea you’d like to share, I’d love to read them in the comments section below. Your insights can enrich our collective tea-drinking experience. Thanks for Spiritea Drinks!
Is Assam black tea the same as black tea?
Assam black tea is a type of black tea distinctively characterised by its robust, malty flavour and deep amber colour. Named after its region of origin in India, Assam tea is made from the leaves of the Camellia sinensis var. assamica plant.
Is Assam the strongest black tea?
Assam tea is known for its full-bodied, strong flavour profile, making it one of the more robust types of black tea. However, the “strength” of tea can be subjective and depends on brewing time and tea leaf quality.
Is Assam tea like Earl Grey?
Assam tea and Earl Grey are both types of black tea, but Earl Grey is typically a blend of black teas flavoured with oil from the bergamot orange, giving it a distinctive citrus flavour. Assam, on the other hand, boasts a malty, robust flavour.
Is Assam tea stronger than Ceylon?
Assam tea is typically stronger and more full-bodied than Ceylon tea, often characterised as smooth, bold, and medium-bodied with hints of chocolate or spice.
Is Assam tea like English breakfast?
Assam tea often forms the base of English Breakfast blends, contributing a robust and malty flavour. However, English Breakfast tea usually also includes teas from other regions to round out the flavor.
Which is better, Ceylon or Assam?
Ceylon and Assam teas offer unique flavour profiles, and their choice is personal preference. Assam is typically stronger and maltier, while Ceylon has a more medium-bodied taste with hints of citrus or spice.
Is Assam black tea sweet?
Assam black tea is typically known for its rich, robust, and malty flavour profile. While not inherently sweet, its smoothness can sometimes be perceived as a slight natural sweetness.
Is Assam tea acidic?
Assam tea is mildly acidic due to natural tea polyphenols. However, its pH level, typically 4.9 to 5.5, is less acidic than common beverages like coffee or soda.
When should I drink Assam tea?
Assam tea, rich, caffeinated black tea, is an excellent choice for the morning or early afternoon when you might need a pick-me-up. However, personal preferences and caffeine tolerance can influence the optimal time for consumption.
Why is Assam famous for tea?
Assam is famous for its tea due to its unique geographical conditions—rich, loamy soil, a warm climate, and ample rainfall—that make it an ideal location for tea cultivation. The resulting Assam tea is renowned globally for its robust and malty flavor.
What is the difference between Assam tea and China tea?
While both are derived from the Camellia sinensis plant, Assam tea and China tea come from different varieties. Assam tea is made from the Camellia sinensis var. assamica, known for its robust and malty flavor, while China tea generally refers to teas from the Camellia sinensis var. sinensis, which offers a wide variety of flavors depending on its processing.
Is Assam tea Chinese?
Assam tea is not Chinese; it’s Indian. Named after the Assam region of India where it’s grown, Assam tea is recognized worldwide for its rich, full-bodied flavor.
What is the difference between Assam tea and Darjeeling tea?
Both Assam and Darjeeling teas hail from India, but they’re grown in different regions and have distinct flavor profiles. Assam tea is robust and malty, while Darjeeling tea is often described as delicate, with muscatel and floral undertones.
Is Assam tea better than normal tea?
“Better” is subjective when it comes to tea. Assam tea is favored by many for its full-bodied, malty flavor. Like all teas, their quality depends on factors such as the tea plant variety, the region’s climate, and the harvesting and processing methods.
Does Assam tea make you sleepy?
On the contrary, Assam tea contains caffeine, known for its stimulating effects. Thus, drinking Assam tea might help you stay alert and focused rather than inducing sleepiness.
Is Assam the strongest tea?
Assam tea is one of the strongest teas in flavor profile, being full-bodied and malty. However, the strength of tea can be influenced by factors like brewing time, water temperature, and the quantity of tea used.
What is special about Assam tea?
Assam tea’s specialty lies in its robust, full-bodied flavor with malty undertones, a product of the unique geographical conditions of the Assam region in India. It is also integral to globally popular blends like English Breakfast tea.
I’m Shanna, creator of Spiritea Drinks. I’m all about teaching people to grow their own food, tea, cook what they harvest, and eat with the seasons.