Everything you need to know about Indian Assam Black Tea

Everything you need to know about Indian Assam Black Tea

The flu season is upon us! It’s time to refill our arsenal of medical supplies with everything that can keep the cold and cough at bay. One of the simplest and healthy ways to improve your immunity is through the magical brew called tea! Tea soothes your throat and fills your insides with warmth.

When it comes to sore throat, there are specific concoctions that can relieve your throat from pain and also clear the mucus. There’s no doubt that India is a treasure chest of healing teas when it comes to treating viral infections. Here’s a list of tried and tested best teas for treating sore throat and give you a good night’s sleep!

What is Assam Tea?

The terrain of Assam is home for powerful blends of tea such as the Assam Black Tea. It is malty, brisk, strong with a brightly colored brew, reminding you why some of the best teas come from Assam. Assam lies in the northeast tip of India bordering the states of Bangladesh and Myanmar. Almost south of the country of China. As it experiences high amounts of precipitation and because of the tropical climate, there is a year-long abundant tea production season which makes it the second largest commercial tea producer across the globe. Owing to the low altitudes, it produces tea with a strong brew and malty flavour. The first flush Assam tea is flavourful while it is the second flush that is prized over the first. This is because second flush picking has plenty of golden tips which renders it a sweet profile.

How is Assam Tea prepared?

The taste preference for Assam tea varies among people. Some like pure black Assam tea which can be prepared like most other teas. It is best to use filtered water for an authentic taste.

Step by step process to prepare Assam Tea

  • Add a tablespoon of loose Assam tea leaves in tea infuser in a teacup or keep the tea bag in a cup.
  • Boil water to a temperature of around 90 º Celsius – for this you would need to allow the water to boil for a minute and reduce the temperature
  • Add around 230 ml of water over the infuser, tea bag or just the tea leaves.
  • Allow the tea leaves to steep till it reaches the desired colour of brew. Some prefer a light brew while some like it strong. For a strong dark brew, it is best to let the tea leaves steep for around 5 minutes. Extended steeping might make the brew slightly bitter

Remove the infuser or tea bag from the cup before drinking. Traditionally it is said that Assam tea is best served as pure black tea without milk and sweeteners but some tea lovers like to have it that way with breakfast. For that, you would need to add two tablespoons of milk and sweetener of choice.

Flavour Profile of Assam Tea

Assam tea is described as full bodied, strong with malty flavour. Full bodied means that the brew is complex with a rich flavour, just like other black teas. Strong tea blends usually have Assam tea as the base or as an ingredient. This makes the flavour earthy, brisk with a smoky undertone. It also has spicy and sweet notes to it.

This makes Assam tea the best base for the Indian chai because the brew is strong enough to not allow the other spices and milk to overpower it. Hence Assam tea can still be enjoyed as a breakfast beverage with milk and sugar.

Tip: Enjoy Assam tea as a brisk-me-up beverage with milk and sweetener. One of the best types of Assam tea is the Assam Khongea Golden Bud!

Types of Assam Tea:

Assam Tea is broadly classified as Orthodox and CTC. The names are based on the manufacturing process. The most important step in the process of making tea is fermentation or oxidation. The tea leaves are left exposed which creates dark substances known as Tannins that is formed as a by- product of the oxidation process. The leaf when it is left for oxidation, wilts and loses the moisture and also its weight. After this they are fired and dried to halt the oxidation process.

If the number of buds in processed tea is higher then the presence of golden flecks is more. It is referred to as Tippy tea. More the tea is tippy, higher goes the price. Orthodox type tea is sorted so that the golden tips are separated entirely. Hence orthodox teas are described to be golden or even flowery.

There are 4 grades of Orthodox tea:

  1. 1. Flowery Orange Pekoe
  2. 2. Orange Pekoe
  3. 3. Pekoe
  4. 4. Souchong

The highest grade of Orthodox tea is Tippy Orange Flowery Golden Pekoe. It is hand processed and mostly produced in small quantities. CTC teas produced as a result of crush, tear and curl method was invented at the start of the 20 th century. It is a factory process where tea leaves are passed through rollers that finally turns the tea leaves into tiny balls. CTC method produces tea that is twice the cuppage as that of Orthodox which means a kilo of CTC tea gives 500 cups of tea while the same amount of Orthodox would only yield 250 cups.

Health Benefits of Assam Tea

Assam tea has medium to high levels of caffeine when compared to other types of tea. It has around 80 mg in 230 ml of tea. This is responsible for the high boost in energy and mental alertness that one receives after having a cup. Hence it is best to be enjoyed in the morning rather than in the evening.

Black tea also contains polyphenols along with flavonoids, catechins and tannins. These are plant- based chemicals which are helpful in boosting one’s health. For best health results, it is better to have the tea as pure black tea rather than with milk and sugar.

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