An overview of Assam Tea
If you have a tough time imagining going even just a single day without a strong cup of black tea, the odds are pretty good you’ll fall head over in heels in love with all that assam tea has to offer.
Traditionally grown in the largest tea producing region on the planet, and one of those foundational “British” style teas, Assam has global popularity that makes it constantly high in demand.
Strong, bold, and with an almost bracing flavor profile that may take a little bit of time getting used to if your new too potent black tea options, there’s a lot to get excited about when it comes to Assam – a tea option quite unlike anything else on the market today.
Let’s take a little bit deeper into everything that Assam tea brings to the table.
A Quick History of Assam Tea
The story of how Assam tea was discovered in India is pretty unique.
The tale is told that in 1823 a Scottish explorer and adventurer named Robert Bruce was ranging throughout the Assam region of India, making his way through Rangpur, when he stumbled across plants that looked a lot like tea that he was used to drinking back in Scotland.
He and his entourage decided to harvest some of these plants to dry out and drink later on throughout the excursion and fell in love with them so much that he started to speak with the native people he came in contact with throughout this region about this deep, rich, black tea.
A number of local tribesmen (called the Singpho) immediately recognized the plant as one of their favorite all-natural medicinal herbs and showed Robert Bruce and his fellow adventurers how to not only brew it into a delicious tea but also turn it into an effective poultice and medicine, too.
Bruce was so taken by the entire experience that he traded a significant amount of supplies for bags of seeds of this particular plant, hoping to have them scientifically analyzed when he returned to Scotland – with plans on producing these plants commercially, too.
Unfortunately, Bruce would pass away just a few years later (before leaving India) and wouldn’t ever have an opportunity to have his plants, his leaves, or his seeds scientifically classified while he was alive.
Thankfully though, his brother Charles (also a part of this expedition) was able to send a number of the samples out to a botanical garden that existed in Calcutta. He wanted these plants to be examined and to be studied, and it was only in 1830 that these plants were given a scientific name and classification.
From there it took nine years for the very first commercial farm to establish itself in the Assam region of India growing Assam tea exclusively. The Assam Tea Company was founded in 1839 (with investments from Charles and others), growing rapidly throughout India in record time.
By 1862 in this enterprise owned more than 160 farms operated by five public companies throughout the region, with 57 different private investors all capitalizing on this amazing new tea.
It didn’t take long for the East India Company to get wind of this exciting new pocket of profit in the Assam region of India, and pretty soon this company was trading Assam tea internationally – shipping it as far away as the United States and Australia.
How and Where Assam Tea is Grown and Harvested
Today almost every single commercially available Assam product is originally sourced from the Assam region in the northeastern part of India.
This region is bordered by the northern Himalaya range, a handful of plains areas, and the Deccan Plateau. This creates a tremendous amount of biodiversity – some of the most biodiversity in all of India is situated here – which combined with heavy rainfall and very humid conditions almost all year round make producing Assam tea nearly effortless.
Each and every year, more than 507 million kg of Assam tea is produced and harvested – making the Assam region of India the largest tea-growing region on the planet. Harvests of this tea are conducted twice annually (usually in March through May and then later in June through August), with each individual harvest called a “flush”.
To have the legal name of “Assam tea” the plants and leaves for these products must be grown and harvested in this region. Even plants that are cultivated from the Assam region and then later grown or harvested elsewhere cannot legally be called Assam tea
What Makes Assam Tea So Popular?
For starters, the unique flavor profile that Assam tea has separated it from so many other options – including rich, bold, and very flavor-forward black tea options that it has a lot in common with.
Secondly, there are two different types of Assam tea that are more popular than any other – the Orthodox and the CTC varieties.
Orthodox tea varieties come into different forms (whole leaf and broken leave), and are harvested through traditional means by hand.
These are usually much more expensive options than the CTC varieties – Assam tea that is later turned into leaf pallets or dust to allow for better consistency, though they do not retain the same kind of health-boosting properties that whole and broken leaf options bring to the table.
If you want a black tea that is distinct from any other, sourced from one of the most interesting tea regions in the world and has an incredible history – not to mention plenty of health-boosting properties – you’re going to want to give Assam a shot as soon as you have a chance.
Tips for Brewing Assam Tea
If you are going to get the most out of the Assam tea that you have purchased – whether it be Orthodox or CTC – you’re going to want to make sure that you have the brewing process down pat.
You’ll want to start off with the recommended amount of whole leaf, broken leaf, or CTC Assam tea for the amount of tea that you are looking to brew. This will vary depending on the strength of the tea that you are interested in as well as the quality and caliber of the tea that you are working with.
After that, you’ll want to add a cup of just slightly cooler than boiling water (200°F works well) to the tea leaves or CTC that you are brewing. Allow this to steep for between three and five minutes (trying not to go beyond five minutes when possible) and you’ll be able to enjoy all of the health-boosting properties that Assam has to offer while getting rich flavors as well.
Health Benefits of Assam Tea
Speaking of health-boosting properties that Assam has to offer, this is one of the healthiest tea options you could choose to drink on a day-to-day basis. Not only does it have a unique flavor of currants, raisins, and a baseline of sweetness that a lot of other black teas do not provide but it’s also going to help you with your overall health and wellness, too.
One of the biggest benefits you’ll get when drinking Assam tea is an immediate energy boost. This is pretty common with black tea options in general, but you’re going to see a pretty big perk – even if you have been drinking other black tea options for quite a while.
Best of all, though, you aren’t going to have to worry about an inevitable crash coming out of nowhere when you drank Assam. This isn’t necessarily all-day energy, but the tapering off is very smooth rather than a sudden jolt like you get with coffee or sugar.
- Blocks fat absorption
Folks looking to lose weight are going to really appreciate Assam for its fat-blocking properties. Combine Assam with a clean diet and regular exercise and you’ll be able to significantly increase your rate of weight loss while at the same time armor your body against the fat gain in the future.
- Even out your blood sugar levels
Assam has been proven conclusively to include one of the highest concentration levels of polysaccharides in the black tea world, flooding your body with this critical biochemical to even out your glucose levels, to even out your blood sugar count, and to help those living with either form of diabetes better modulate themselves through their diet.
- Potential cancer protection
A number of the flavonoids and polyphenolic antioxidants in Assam tea are also designed to help fight back against cancer cells in the body as well as chemical carcinogens. The studies into how Assam specifically fights cancer are as of yet incomplete, but new research is ongoing and early reports are very positive.
Potential Side Effects of Assam Tea
Because of its 100% all-natural approach to healing and restoring your body you aren’t going to have to worry a lot about potential side effects with Assam tea.
It’s probably a good idea to keep your daily intake to between two and four cups a day (just to avoid the jitteriness that can come from flooding your system with too much Assam and too short a block of time), but your short and long-term health will never be actively impacted by this beverage.
At the end of the day, if you are a fan of strong, black tea options and want to try maybe best British style black tea on the planet – a tea grown and one of the richest regions on the planet when it comes to tea culture and tea heritage – you’re going to want to give a glass of Assam a try ASAP.
Combine that with all the health-boosting properties that this amazing herb and beverage bring to the table and it has the potential to (quite literally) change your life!