Assam Tea : A Beginner's Guide

Tea is the most widely consumed beverage in the world other than water. If your taste preference is for strong black teas, Assam tea is the one to try. The name Assam means one without equal, and this meaning justifies its teas. The North Indian region of Assam produces some of the world's most sought-after teas. It is home to the largest tea plantation in India and one of the oldest plantations in the world, dating back to 1836. Assam black tea is known for its rich, malty flavor and many potential health benefits. It is now one of the most popular teas worldwide due to its robust taste and high caffeine content.

Assam is one of the largest tea-producing regions in the world. Assam tea is a black tea made from the Camellia Sinensis leaves & is grown at high altitudes (1,500-2,200 meters) in Assam, India. Around 50k tea producers in Assam produce almost 600 million Kgs of tea per year. Some of these are large plantations that produce mass-market teas, while the rest are small tea gardens focused on artisan and specialty tea. Assam teas contain naturally high caffeine. For this reason, Assam tea is often marketed as a breakfast tea. 

The main differentiating factor of black tea is the final firing step during the production process. This process makes this tea more robust and gives it a rich taste. It undergoes six processing steps to achieve its characteristic dark brown color and bold flavor. After tea leaves are harvested and withered, they undergo an oxidation process to expose them to oxygen in a controlled-temperature environment for a certain period of time. This oxidation process stimulates the chemical changes in the leaves resulting in Assam tea with a unique color and flavor. 

Types of Assam Tea:

Assam tea is usually harvested four times a year, with the first and second harvest being the best. Two main types of teas are available – orthodox and CTC tea. Orthodox Assam tea can be divided into many categories, depending on the leaf type. 

Orthodox tea is made using traditional methods and is considered of higher quality than tea. However, the final quality depends on many factors such as soil, climate, leaf type, harvesting time, processing methods, and many more.

CTC tea is made using a different method, which is not as time-consuming and does not produce as many varieties. The leaves are cut into smaller pieces, and the whole leaf enters the production process, unlike orthodox tea, where only selected leaves are to enter.

There is nothing called whole-leaf CTC. There are broken-leaf grades of CTC and dust tea - the powder and particles leftover from whole leaf processing. The broken leaf is close to a good English Breakfast. 

Benefits of Drinking Assam Tea

Research suggests that Assam tea, which has rich plant compounds, may promote health in several ways.

Boasts Antioxidants:

Black teas like Assam contain several unique compounds; that act as antioxidants in the body and may act as an agent for disease prevention. As it contains a higher amount of antioxidants, a cup of Assam tea may help strengthen the immune system. It also contains minerals such as calcium, iron, magnesium, and copper.

Anti-cancer property

Drinking a cup of Assam tea may help lower the growth and spread of cancer cells, specifically skin, lung, and breast cancer. A small body of research on humans has observed associations between black tea intake and a reduced risk of certain cancers such as skin and lung cancer. Though this has not been thoroughly researched, the evidence so far has shown great potential.

May promote heart health

Some animal studies suggest that polyphenolic compounds in black tea may help reduce cholesterol. And prevent the buildup of plaque in blood vessels. More research is needed to understand how black teas like Assam affect heart health.

Protects against neurodegenerative (brain) diseases

Early research suggests that certain compounds present in black tea can be used as a treatment or preventative therapy for degenerative brain illnesses. 

There is tea for every taste. Find yours today!