Assam tea is an Indian black tea, produced in the Assam region in Northern India. Most of the tea is grown by the Brahmaputra River. The Assam region is the world's largest tea growing area, with over 800 estates, and Assam tea is the world's most produced tea.
While the Assam region has wild tea plants, these do not produce a palatable brew. Modern-day Assam tea is harvested from plants that are a hybrid of native Assam plants and Chinese tea plants.
Assam tea is known for its malty, full-bodied, robust flavor and strong, bright color. There is also a sweet, fruity taste to the tea. Assam Tea has distinctive brown and gold leaves which appear orange when dried. Some Assam Tea has golden tips on the leaves, which increases the sweetness of the tea.
Varieties of Assam tea
There are three varieties of Assam tea, depending on when it is harvested.
Assam tea that is picked from March to May is known as first flush. March is when the Assam tea bushes begin to grow. First flush Assam tea is known for its strong, fresh flavor. First flush Assam tea is the lightest of the varieties.
Second flush Assam tea is picked from June, with the main production taking place between July and September. Second flush Assam tea has a strong, creamy and malty taste and a dark-red color. Some second flush Assam tea may also have a spicy tinge to its taste.
Generally, second flush Assam tea is sweeter in taste than first flush Assam tea, and is the most prized harvest for importers in Europe and North America.
Second-flush Assam tea is also the most abundant of the varieties, as it is harvested during the monsoon season.
Assam tea harvested from October to early December is known as the winter harvest (despite the harvest time being in autumn!), or end-season harvest.
Assam tea may come as full leaf, broken leaf, or with golden tips.
Preparation of Assam tea
To fully enjoy Assam tea, the following method of preparation is recommended.
Firstly, the tea pot should be warmed with hot water before use. After warming, place one teaspoon of Assam tea into the bottom of the pot.
The water should be allowed to boil thoroughly before being poured.
Assam tea generally requires only 3-4 minutes brewing. If the tea is left for longer than 5-6 minutes, it will become bitter.
Assam tea is recommended with milk and sugar.