Assam

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Assam Tea is a high-quality, full bodied tea with a rich dark liquor and a malty flavour from the Brahmaputra valley, in the Assam Province of north-east India. Assam is often the robust, base-line of breakfast teas. Although some is orthodox, most Assam tea is CTC tea for machine packing and tea bags. These Assam CTCs provide a good strength but always mixed into a blend.

Assam tea is generally the Assam Jat tea bush, so has a malty character. The Assam region has one of the highest rainfalls of any region in the world. Assam's tea season starts in March with a small, green and astringent First Flush. The Second Flush begins at end April and lasts until the August monsoon rains. Late Autumnal teas are good every fourth year or so, but the rest of the year its bitter and flat.

Assam teas are mainly Golden Broken Orange Pekoe. Assam teas have a good and strong, malty character, infused to a deep dark-orange colour that is almost brown-black. These Assam teas is the core for everyday strong black tea blends. The smaller grades - Orange Fannings - are great for Irish Breakfast teas.

Good quality Assam tea gardens include, both of which have a malty character but with some subtlety of flavour:

  • Hazelbank
  • Mokalbari

Infusion

  • Quantity: 1 teaspoon (2½ g) per cup or person
  • Water: 95oC (200oF)
  • Brew time: 4 - 5 minutes

Iced Tea Method

To make 1 quart / 1 liter pitcher:

  1. Quantity: 6 heaped teaspoons loose tea or 6 teabags into a teapot or pitcher.
  2. Water: 1¼ cups / 315 ml freshly boiled water.
  3. Infusion time: 5 minutes.
  4. Iced tea: Pour brewed tea into 1 quart / liter pitcher, straining tea or taking out teabags. Add ice and top up with cold water. Garnish and sweeten to taste.

To make individual serving:

  1. Quantity: 1 heaped teaspoons loose tea or 1 teabag into a teapot or mug.
  2. Water: 175 ml / 6 oz freshly boiled water.
  3. Infusion time: 5 minutes.
  4. Iced tea: Fill 12 oz / 375 ml cup with ice. Pour in brewed tea, straining tea or taking out teabags - not all tea will fit in. Garnish and sweeten to taste.

Rule of thumb: increase the strength of the tea compared to normal hot tea, because it will be diluted by the ice and cold water added.

Further Reading

  • Dattner, C. (2007) The Taste of Tea, Flammarion. ISBN 9782080300225.
  • Dowell, P., Bailey, A. (1980) The Book of Ingredients, Dorling Kindersley. ISBN 0718119150.
  • Stobart, T. (1981) The Cook's Encyclopedia: ingredients & processes, Harper & Row. ISBN 0060141271.