Tea from the Assam region has a rich, golden color and a strong, malty flavor. It is the quintessential black tea. The growing region lies near sea level and has a hot, humid rainy season and a cool, arid winter. These unique growing conditions give the tea its flavor and make the region one of the most prolific tea producing areas on earth.
Where to buy
These teas are generally easy to find, but for higher qualities, look to specialty tea shops or online vendors. If you are unsure where to begin, you can check out some of my recommendations below.
How to Prepare Assam Tea
The preparation instructions given here are for loose leaf teas. For tea bags, you can just follow the instructions given on the box.
The ideal temperature is 90-95ºC (194-205ºF), which is just below the boiling point. You can just boil the water using a simple stove-top kettle and then let it cool for 20 seconds.
If you plan on trying a lot of varieties of tea and/or coffee it might be worth it to invest in a water boiler/warmer or an electric kettle with a variable temperature setting. Personally, I recommend this Cuisinart kettle, because it has presets for every type of tea, so you always get the perfect temperature:
Assam tea can be brewed in a variety of vessels, but ideally you would use a ceramic teapot like this one:
- Fill both the teapot and the cups about halfway with hot water to pre-heat them. Tilt them a bit so that the water creeps up the side and then rotate them so the insides get wet all the way around. Then pour the water out.
- Put 1 teaspoon of tea leaves into the teapot for every 8 oz. (236 ml) of water.
- Fill the teapot with 90-95ºC (194-205ºF) water.
- Place the lid on the teapot and let the tea steep for 2 minutes.
- Pour the tea into the teacups and enjoy your tea!
You want to be careful not to over-brew these teas, especially cheaper varieties, as they can become too bitter. Because of that, the amounts and times given in the instructions are somewhat conservative; use them as a rough guide.
If you find the resulting tea too weak, add more tea leaves or try increasing the steeping time. If you like your tea more bitter, increase the water temperature.
Many people already have an account with Amazon.com so it is probably the easiest place to buy tea online. They have a pretty good selection of Assam tea bags, but not very many good loose leaf options.
My favorite option is the “tippy” Assam Gold from Art of Tea. “Tippy” refers to the gold tips, which are a characteristic of the more prized second-flush. This tea has a great bold, malty flavor and is surprisingly affordable priced.