The Tea Spot’s Assam loose-leaf tea and Steepware were recently featured on the Anderson Cooper Show in a segment where we learned that Dame Judi Dench drinks only Assam tea. Assam is the tea many of us wake up to, whether we know it or not, so the saying “If Strength Is Your Weakness, Assam Is Your Tea” clearly applies to many tea drinkers. This brisk black tea is blended into most English and Irish breakfast teas. The presence of hundreds of different estate Assams makes this one of the most prolific of all tea regions in the world.
Everything about this tea is big, including the plant it grows on and the leaf. The varietal of tea plant that comes from Assam is Camellia sinensis assamica, and it is about twice as big as the Chinese varietal Camellia sinensis sinensis. The larger leaves from Camellia sinensis assamica produce a darker and stronger tea, which makes it well suited to milk and sugar. You can always pick out an Assam among other black teas by its distinctive malty aroma and honey finish. Even though it’s a strong tea, Assam is velvety smooth, and steeps into a beautiful dark brown liquor. When you add milk to the tea, it turns a characteristically ruby color.
Assam is one of only two regions in the world with native tea plants (in addition to South China). This very moist Himalayan valley is over 500 miles long, following the Brahmaputra River. Assam gets over 100 inches of rainfall annually, and parts of it look like a tropical jungle. Assam is also home to the largest wildlife sanctuary in India, where you can still see the rare, one-horned Indian rhinoceros and the Asiatic elephant.