What is Assam tea?Assam tea is black tea made in the Assam region in India. Until recently, Assam was producing almost only mass market black tea. Despite its popularity and wide availability, Assam is a relatively new tea. Tea production in India started only about 200 years ago. What makes Assam tea different from other black types of tea is:
- Assam tea is made from Camellia sinensis var assamica, a plant native to Assam
- Unique terroir
- Processing methods
Two types of Assam teaAssam is usually harvested four times per year, with the first and second harvest being the best. Unlike Darjeeling, it’s a low grown tea, and fully oxidized. Two main types are available – orthodox and CTC tea. Orthodox Assam tea can further be divided into many categories, depending on the leaf type. Orthodox tea is made using traditional methods and are considered of higher quality than tea made for tea bags. However, that is not always the case, as the final quality will depend on many factors - soil, climate, plant, leaf type, harvesting time, processing methods and much more.
Organic Assam orthodox teaCTC or cut-tear-curl tea is a type of black tea where leaves are formed into a small little pellets, like in Simple Chai tea. CTC is not used for making other types, such as green, white, oolong, pu’erh or yellow tea.
What does Assam tea taste like?Assam tea is usually described as full bodied and strong with a malty flavor. Full bodied means that tea is rich and complex and is most often related to black tea. Assam tea is a common ingredient in tea blends, used to give a stronger base and depth. The flavor can range from brisk, smokey, earthy, musky and strong to a lighter cup with chocolate, cocoa, or even sweet and spicy notes. CTC Assam tea will usually be stronger, sharper, maltier and maybe astringent. This type of tea is usually found in tea bags, rather than in loose leaf form. However, it makes a wonderful base for chai teas, or for teas that need to be strong to hold the aroma of spices, milk and sugar.
Organic Assam black tea from Hathikuli tea plantation
Caffeine contentAssam black tea is usually considered having the high caffeine content out of all black types of tea. However, not all Assam tea will have a lot of caffeine. Caffeine levels will depend on the type of plant, type of tea leaves, grade, harvesting time and brewing method. Broken Assam dust in tea bags may have more than double the amount of caffeine than loose leaf tea. Assam’s strong flavor and caffeine content is the reason why it’s a popular choice for breakfast teas. Study on caffeine content in Indian teas showed that Assam unbroken loose leaf tea has the lowest caffeine levels of all Indian black teas. However, both Assam orange pekoe and Assam CTC showed the highest amounts, more than Darjeeling or other Indian black teas.
5 benefits of drinking Assam teaDrinking Assam tea may provide many health benefits. The top 5 are:
Strengthening the immune system
Promoting weight loss
Lowering blood sugar
Protecting against neurodegenerative diseases
How to brew Assam teaUnlike Chinese tea, Assam is always best brewed only once. However, some loose leaf Assam tea may give three or more delicious infusions. The best way to brew Assam is by using freshly boiled spring water. Water temperature should be around 205- 210°F. One teaspoon of broken tea leaves is enough to make one cup of tea. However, if you are using unbroken leaves, use a regular spoon instead. Steep for 2-3 minutes. CTC teas will steep quicker and 1-2 minutes will be enough for a strong full cup. And finally, if you want the strongest cup with the most caffeine and robust brisk flavor, choose Assam CTC or orange pekoe black tea. If you want the most benefits and lighter cup, opt for unbroken loose leaf tea.
Disclaimer: This article is for informational purposes only. It’s not intended to replace medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Every person is different and may react to different herbs and teas differently. Never use teas or herbs to treat serious medical conditions on your own. Always seek professional medical advice before choosing home remedies.