Each month we’ll take a look at a special herb, spice, or other ingredient that we use in some of our most popular teas and tisanes. This month, we’ll focus our Tealight (get it?!) on our namesake, Assam.
Assam tea hales from the plantation region in northeast India, near the Brahmaputra River. The area sees regular humid high temperatures and quite a lot of rain, resulting in Assam tea’s famously strong and malty flavor.
The popularity of Assam teas was pioneered by the British Empire during the colonial age, as access to tea from mainland China was becoming sparse. Local Indian tribes had long used Assam black tea for traditional brews. Near the turn of the century, British colonists who had come to favor the tea initiated widespread planting of Assam black tea leaves. Today, “Assam” teas cover the breadth of the Brahmaputra Valley.
Assam tea is the most oxidized of all types of black tea, resulting in strong flavor and high caffeine content. High caffeine levels can cause effects such as sweating, palpitating, and insomnia for people with low caffeine tolerance. However, the oxidation process also gives this tea high levels of antioxidants. Benefits of Assam tea include:
- Cardiovascular Health: Assam tea contains flavonoids, which reduce the plaque inside blood vessels. This function helps reduce the risks of cardiovascular diseases, such as coronary heart disease and stroke.
- Lowering LDL: LDL (or “bad” cholesterol) is a lipoprotein that transports cholesterols into the cells. Drinking Assam regularly may decrease the presence of LDL and lower the level of cholesterol in your bloodstream.
- Focus and Alertness: The caffeine level in Assam tea is high, but not as high as black coffee. A moderate amount can help increase focus and alertness. Assam is ideal for a morning or afternoon beverage because the caffeine combats sluggishness.
- Digestive Health: Rich polyphenols in Assam tea support the growth of good bacteria in your digestive tract. Regularly drinking black tea can help to keep your digestive system healthy.
- Reduced Risk of Diabetes: Assam tea has active components that boost insulin effectiveness. It can help with blood sugar level regulation, reducing risk of diabetes.
- Reduced Early Aging: The rich antioxidants in Assam tea help fight free radicals from stress, pollution, and ultraviolet rays. This results in delayed symptoms of early aging. If you have blemishes, try dabbing the tea on problem areas using cotton.
- Reduced Risk of Degenerative Disease: While clearly not a “magical cure” for diseases, Assam tea may reduce risk of Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s. While there are no conclusive studies, researchers have noticed a decrease in risk factors.
Assam tea is strong and malty, with full body and a brisk finish, ideal for adding milk or lemon. Assam tea with milk is favored in Britain because the strong flavor prevents it from being too creamy. The most ideal temperature for making Assam tea is around 194 to 205 degrees Fahrenheit (90 to 95 degrees Celsius), which you can achieve by bringing water to a boil, turning off the heat, and letting it sit for 20 seconds before pouring.
We recommend brewing a cup of Assam for 3 minutes, more or less as a matter of taste. A longer brew makes for a stronger flavor, but also brings out the astringency and may be bitter.
You can enjoy one of the fine selections in our store that contain Assam or an Assam blend, including our excellent 2nd flush Organic Assam.