One of the basic teas in most black tea blends is Assam tea. It’s sort of a “stealth tea,” mixing in with Keemun and other black teas but always making its presence known with its distinctive flavor. You can buy Assam tea on its own, too. There is a wider variety of Assam types than you might think.
Some teas in which Assam plays its “stealth tea” role:
- Golden Moon’s English Breakfast — Usually a blend of Keemun, Assam, and Ceylon teas, with a bit of Darjeeling or other teas.
- Harney & Sons Supreme Breakfast — Containing Assam for full body and smoothed by rich-tasting Hao Ya ‘B’ Keemun.
Some teas where Assam is “out in the open” and blowing its own horn:
- Assam Harmony — Black tea that brews up burgundy-red and has a rich aroma with a strong, malty taste, making this a great breakfast tea. An outstanding second-flush (Summer) tea from the Mangalam estate.
- Assam Melody — Black tea that brews up burgundy-red and has a rich aroma with a strong, malty taste, making this a great breakfast tea. A second-flush (Summer) tea from the Meleng estate.
- Kama Black — A sought-after tea that’s clean, soft, and malty, and has a great aftertaste.
- Cream of Assam — This smallest leaf style Assam tea produces a noticeable sweetish maltiness in a fragrant, amber red “liquor” with complex fruity and honey notes to start, changing to a creamy, silky feel in your mouth. You could enjoy it with milk but might miss some of the subtle flavors. The best of Spring harvest (First Flush).
- Royal Rongit — A brisk brew with a good malty aroma, this Assam goes well with milk and has a smooth, balanced taste that fills you whole mouth with pleasure.
- Large Namsang — A sweetish, citrusy, malty tea with a brick red tea “liquor” that goes well with milk, leaving a brisk, malty aftertaste.
- Pekoe Dust — A blackish-brown, very small granular cut leaf (not dust, despite the name) that steeps up malty and thick with a deep amber red color that’s great with milk. Want a flavorful cuppa for breakfast that’s fresh and substantial? This is it.
- Assam Silver Needle — An unusual Assam with a soft green-apple aroma and a hint of freshly baked bread in a pale greenish-white “liquor” that’s fruity and nutty. Definitely skip the milk for this one.
The time of harvest is important in how the tea tastes. This is as true of Assam as of other teas:
- Spring Harvest — First harvest season of the year, also called “First Flush,” offers the most delicate teas with lighter body, incredible flowery aroma, and the widest range of flavors within the malty Assams. They have the shortest shelf life, losing flavor over time.
- Summer Harvest — Second harvest season of the year, between the end of April through mid-July, and the most coveted one. They have the most complex flavors, a thick liquorish body, and incredible vigor with a much better shelf life than Spring and Monsoon harvest teas.
- Monsoon Harvest — Takes place during the monsoons. Produces teas similar to Summer Harvest.
- Autumn Harvest — Last harvest season of the year (between late September through late November) is the best. The teas have the best of the seasons; good aroma and flavor with the best shelf-life.
The growing climate is another factor, such as:
- Rani Tea Estate — At an average elevation of 157 feet in an arid area of western (Lower) Assam with dry Winter and Spring seasons and moderately wet Summer and Monsoon seasons. Offers teas that are light bodied with balanced malty, earthy flavors and spice and herb notes.
- Satrupa Tea Factory — At an average elevation of 590 feet in a tropical rainforest area of eastern (Upper) Assam with moderately wet Winter and Spring seasons, and heavy rainfall in Summer and Monsoon seasons. Offers teas that are light bodied with balanced malty, earthy flavors and spice and herb notes.
Whether in “stealth mode” as part of a blend or on their own, Assam teas offer some of the best taste experiences around. Try a few today!
Don’t forget to check out A.C.’s blog, Tea Time with A.C. Cargill!