If you’re a black tea drinker, chances are you’ve been drinking Assam tea.

Considered the creme de la creme of black teas, Assam is most popular in breakfast tea blends and is used in Organic India’s black teas, such as Tulsi Breakfast, Tulsi Turmeric Chai, and Tulsi Sweet Rose Assam Black.

But not all Assam is created equal in terms of quality, flavor, purity, and sustainable regenerative sourcing.

In this article, we do a deep dive into the virtues of Assam black tea, including: 

What is Assam Tea?

Like all black teas, Assam tea comes from the Camellia sinensis plant. 

It is a caffeinated tea with about a quarter to half the caffeine as a cup of coffee and, as mentioned previously, is used extensively in breakfast tea blends such as English Breakfast, Early Gray, and Irish Breakfast. It’s also traditionally used in Boba tea and classic Masala Chai.

Some black teas blend Assam with other tea varieties, while others, like most Irish Breakfast blends or those who specify, are 100% Assam tea.

Assam’s differentiating factors include: 

1. Where it’s grown

Assam tea comes from the Assam region of India.

2. When it’s harvested

Assam is typically harvested two to three times yearly, or more depending on the weather. The harvests are called “flushes”. 

The first harvest, or “first flush,” typically occurs in spring and produces a milder, lighter red-colored tea that is less expensive.

The second flush, which occurs in the summer, produces a bolder, maltier flavor and deep amber color synonymous with high-quality Assam tea. 

The second flush is also known as “tippy tea” because of the tea leaves’ golden tips. “Second flush” black teas are typically more expensive and reserved for loose high-end teas. Many designer teas advertise “second flush” on their packaging.

3. How it’s processed

Harvests or flushes aren’t the only factor in Assam’s quality and flavor. Processing steps play a crucial role.

The process of oxidation, the practice of using controlled heat and humidity to create an enzyme reaction that brings out various flavor compounds in the tea leaves, is particularly essential to creating a flavorful, full-bodied Assam.

The more oxidization the tea goes through, the bolder and darker the result.

In contrast, green and white teas are not oxidized, hence their light color, flavor, and lower caffeine content.

Assam tea comes in various grades, such as Assam TGFOP (Tippy Golden Flowery Orange Pekoe), Assam CTC Tea (the processing method of Crush, Tear, Curl), and Assam Green Tea.

Tulsi breakfast tea, which contains assam black tea prepared iced in a glass.

Where is Assam?

Assam is a state located in Northeastern India near Bangladesh, China, and Myanmar.

The region’s location and climate make it a prime agricultural spot, including a vast network of tea gardens that produce Assam tea.

Other crops fueling the region’s agricultural economy include rice, jute, oilseeds, pulses, corn, sugarcane, mustard, potatoes, and fruits. 

Is Assam the Same as Black Tea?

Yes, Assam is a famous Black Tea from the Camellia Sinensis plant.

However, as mentioned previously, it’s not the only type of black tea.

Other types of Black Tea are produced outside Assam, India, in places like China, Africa, and even the United States. 

Authentic Assam is grown in Assam, India, where the climate, growing practices, and other factors create the best quality tea.

Freshly brewed assam black tea in clear teacup and teapot

What is so Special about Assam Tea?  

The Assam region provides ideal growing conditions for Assam tea, which has a distinct malty, astringent, caramel-like flavor and smooth mouthfeel.

It’s also one of the first black teas cultivated in India (vs. China), which allowed the British to control the tea trade for centuries.

What does Assam Tea Taste Like?

High-quality Assam Tea has a malty, bold, smooth, and astringent flavor with notes of cocoa, caramel, oak, and citrus.

Some varieties, such as first flush, have a more floral flavor, while others, like second flush, are more robust and full-bodied.

Assam tea leaves

Benefits of Assam Black Tea

While Green teas are best-known for their health benefits, research suggests Assam tea may provide many of the same benefits.

Benefit 1: Assam Provides a Wealth of Powerful Antioxidants

Assam is brimming with health-giving antioxidants such as polyphenols, catechins (like ECGC), and flavonoids.

Antioxidants can be produced within the body (endogenous) or outside the body (exogenous) and promote health by scavenging free radicals.

Free radicals are unstable molecules that can cause cell damage, inflammation, and other issues if left unchecked.

Research has shown that Assam green tea contains the highest level of catechins, such as the highly studied ECGC.

Various studies support the health benefits of tea consumption for fighting free radicals.

Benefit 2: Assam Tea May Support Normal Cardiovascular Function

Antioxidants, like those found in Assam and other tea varieties, are well-known for their beneficial effects on cardiovascular function.

Specifically, studies have shown the flavonoids in tea may promote cardiovascular function by supporting arterial function and normal inflammatory response.

Additional studies have shown that catechins, like ECGC, may provide various cardiovascular benefits for blood pressure, cholesterol, arterial function, and inflammatory response.

However, it’s important to note Assam also contains caffeine, which can negatively impact cardiovascular function if consumed in excess. 

Moderation is the key, with most experts recommending at most 5 cups per day. 

At Organic India, our Assam teas are expertly blended with Tulsi and other herbs to create energizing brews with half the caffeine of a cup of coffee. 

This is a simple way to reap Assam’s benefits without consuming caffeine in excess.

Benefit 3: Drinking Assam Tea may Reduce Stress

Several studies have shown that drinking tea is an effective remedy for reducing stress and improving emotional well-being.

There are many possible reasons for this effect, including the ritual of stopping to sip tea—either alone or with a friend, its soothing warmth, the beneficial effects of antioxidants (which can also provide emotional support), or the L-theanine in teas, like Assam, which has been shown to promote feelings of calmness and relaxation.

Learn more in: Tea Meditation: A Sacred Sequence To Try.

Benefit 4: Assam may Promote Cognitive Function

Assam has several qualities that may contribute to normal cognitive function and focus.

Firstly, Assam contains caffeine, which can help boost focus, productivity, and brain power.

Secondly, Assam contains antioxidants and other plant compounds, such as theaflavins, which emerging research suggests may help protect the brain while promoting overall well-being.

Thirdly, Assam’s aforementioned benefits for emotional health may also benefit cognitive function.

More research is needed to know exactly how Assam and other teas may impact the brain.

Benefit 5: Assam may Support Gut Microbiome Health

Move over fermented foods! Emerging research suggests the polyphenols in black and green teas may support gut microbiome diversity by functioning like prebiotics.

Prebiotics are a type of carbohydrate or fiber that resists digestion and ferment in the gut, where they provide food for healthy gut microbes.

Without prebiotics, healthy gut bacteria cannot survive and multiply. Common sources of prebiotic fiber include inulin, bananas, oats, jerusalem artichokes, onions, garlic, and leeks.

Assam also contains tannins, an old home remedy for upset stomach.

Although more research is needed, this initial study provides new insight into the long-standing reputation and mechanism of Black Tea as a digestive aid.

Tulsi sweet rose assam black tea

What Sets Organic India’s Assam Tea Apart

Organic India has a reputation for growing, sourcing, and blending the highest-quality (and highest-vibration), pure, organic, regeneratively grown teas and our Assam line is no exception.

We ethically source our Assam Black Tea from two fair-trade Tea Gardens in Assam. One of them, Chardwar Tea Garden, is the region’s first Regenerative Organic Certified® Tea Garden.  

Regenerative Organic practices at Chardwar Tea Garden, Assam, include: 

  • Covered Topsoil. Small leguminous plants and cover crops protect soil from erosion while keeping it aerated and moist. This creates ideal livable root temperatures for a healthy soil microbiome.
  • Minimal Soil Disturbance. Hand tilling is used for land prep and weeding rather than heavy machinery. Crop residue and weeds are left to feed the soil microorganisms and build carbon storage capacity.
  • Agroforestry and Silvopasture. Incorporating a variety of trees, shrubs, plants, and farm crops creates biodiverse microclimates on the farm. Also, integrating cows and goats, who can graze the gardens while creating compost. These practices have a hugely positive socioeconomic and environmental impact on the community.
Assam black tea farmer on assam tea farm

In addition, all our Assam tea (and other teas and herbs) is tested for purity from heavy metals (a common problem in black and green teas), pesticides, mold, mildew, and other contaminants. 

This means you can truly relax into your tea ritual, knowing the tea is of the highest quality, ethically sourced, and free from common contaminants.

Organic India’s Assam teas are balanced and healthful blends of energizing organic, regeneratively grown Assam, balancing Tulsi and other complementary herbs.

They include:

  • Tulsi Sweet Rose Assam Black is a caffeinated version of our ever-popular Tulsi Rose. Sweet, floral, and energizing, it’s an ideal way to start your day.
  • Tulsi Turmeric Chai: This is a robust caffeinated Chai remix of our decaffeinated Tulsi Masala Chai tea line, with grounding Turmeric and soothing Tulsi for recovery, regeneration, and vitality.
  • Tulsi Breakfast: This extraordinarily robust breakfast blend marries Assam Black Tea with airy and herbaceous Tulsi and Bacopa, providing clean energy and mental clarity without the caffeine crash.