About Assam Tea – Everything You Should Know

About Assam Tea – Everything You Should Know

September 14, 2022 0 By aileenscott604

The Grand Old Leaf

Assam Tea was discovered 199 years before the current times, by Robert Bruce, in the year 1823, when he found the plant growing wild in the upper Brahmaputra Valley. The first English tea garden was established in the year 1837 in Chabua, Assam, leading to the formation of the Assam Tea Company in 1839, and commercial production of Assam tea began in the year 1840 by the company.

Why the Interest in Assam Tea?

Assam tea is a distinctive black tea with an unmistakable rich, bold, and malty flavor, suitably matched by the deep and dark color. Given the robust taste, Assam tea is rightfully one of the most popular breakfast teas in the world – The English Breakfast and Irish Breakfast teas ruling the roost! The specialized process of production lends the characteristics that are unique to Assam tea.

Assam tea leaves are harvested twice a year – the first ‘flush’ towards the end of March, all the way to late May. The ‘tippy’ tea comes from the second flush – leaves picked in June. Tippy teas thus are a higher grade of black tea and are used to produce TGFOP or tippy golden flowery orange pekoe, FTGFOP or fine tippy golden flowery orange pekoe, and SFTGFOP or super fine tippy golden flowery orange pekoe! Assam tippy tea contains wiry and dark leaves, mixed generously with golden tips, which when brewed results in the full-bodied, flavor-packed, copper red, and exhilarating beverage. It’s as beautiful as poetry! The taste is sweet – akin to honey – and tingle the taste buds of tea ‘savants’ favoring bold and robust flavors! Experts say that Assam tea is best had without milk or sweeteners, and the leaves can be used for up to three infusions – each steep producing a different flavor.

Tea Grades

The tea region in Assam produces both Orthodox and CTC (Crush, Tear, Curl) tea varieties. The produce includes whole leaf, broken leaf (the third leaf of the tea plant), fannings (small pieces of tea left over after gathering higher grades of teas), and tea dust (left over bits after tea leaves have been crushed, pressed, and rolled). Except whole leaf tea, the other three types of tea are produced by the CTC process of manufacturing.

Fresh Assam tea leaves are harvested and left to dry – this is referred to as fermentation or the oxidation process. During this process the leaves are exposed to oxygen for a predetermined period and in ‘controlled’ temperature. It is during this fermentation process that chemical changes are stimulated in the leaves, resulting in the distinct and much-loved flavor profile of Assam tea, which is the main ingredients for almost all available tea blends. Assam tea has three major components that add to its distinctive flavor – essential oils, polyphenols, and caffeine. As with all black tea varieties, Assam tea contains caffeine – about 50-90mgs per cup. The brewing method and type of leaf determine the amount of caffeine per cup – hence, a stronger first brew will contain more caffeine.

A Healthy Cuppa

Given the caffeine content, one of the major benefits of Assam tea is a surge of energy and a boost in mental alertness, which is why it is a great morning tea or for when lethargy strikes.

There is ongoing research as to the overall health benefits of Assam tea. However, this black elixir contains polyphenols (plant-based chemicals) such as catechins, flavonoids, and tannins. These together are responsible for the antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, as also the anti-microbial and anti-carcinogenic effects of tea, when consumed regularly. Experts recommend brewing loose leaf Assam tea, and not adding sweeteners and milk.  

Preparing Assam Tea

Hot

Take 1.5 teaspoons of loose Assam tea or 1 tea bag, for one cup of water. Filtered water is preferable and it should be at 97.77 degrees Celsius – to get accurate temperature, an electric kettle with a temperature setting, would be ideal.

Boil some additional water to warm up the teapot. Throw out this water. Put in the tea leaves, add the hot water over them, and cover the teapot tightly. Allow to brew for 5 minutes – then strain the tea into a teacup and enjoy. If you wish – add honey or sugar or date syrup to sweeten your tea.

Cold

Take 1.5 teaspoons of loose Assam tea or 1 tea bag, for one cup of water. Use chilled filtered water. Put the tea in a glass container/pitcher and pour in the chilled water. Cover the pitcher and refrigerate. Consume after 12 hours – you could add milk and sweeteners to this brew as well. Prepare a mixture of sugar and hot water in equal parts and keep it for us in this brew.

Side Effects of Assam Tea

Too much caffeine is not advisable for anyone. It can lead to insomnia, elevated heartbeat, palpitations, nervous jitters, headaches, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and frequent urination. In moderation – about 300 to 400mgs – caffeine does not cause harm. Check with your doctor before consuming anything, especially if you are ill or on medication.

Finally

Assam tea is one of nature’s incredibly healthy gifts, with a truly exhilarating taste. The good news is that there is a range of high-quality Assam tea varieties available, which enables you to add this easily to your ‘armor’ of health. So ‘assam’ome!