Monday, August 14, 2006

In Praise Of Assam

Perhaps it would be overstating the case to suggest that Assam is the Rodney Dangerfield of teas. But, the truth is, it doesn't seem to get much respect.

Assam, if I've got my story straight, is most often used as a component of the various breakfast teas - Irish, English and Scottish. It doesn't really have a reputation for being a high-quality tea - whether deserved or not - and the truth is that I've tasted my fair share of lousy varieties. But there's also plenty of Assam out there that's quite good.

Tea connoisseurs seem to gravitate to just about anything but Assam. Darjeeling, of course, is one of the best known and highly visible of the premium (for lack of a better word) teas. But there's also Pu-erh, which appears to be the favorite of the true tea snobs (you know who you are).

If your tastes lean toward green tea, maybe you'll go with a high quality sencha or even a gyokuro. Or maybe you'll even seek out a rare, delicate (and pricey) white tea. But an Assam?

Sure, why not? The truth is that there are some great single-estate Assam teas out there that, for my money, are the equal of any Darjeeling, Pu-erh, or sencha. Of course, that's assuming you like the eye-opening and very robust flavor that's typically the hallmark of Assam tea. These are black tea lover's teas, friends. No doubt about that. But maybe it's time you tried one.

Assam was our featured tea during the month of March, 2006. Here are reviews of some noteworthy varieties sampled during that month.

Tea Review 53 - Singlijan Estate TGFOP1

Tea Review 57 - Sessa & Sessa (Assam)

Tea Review 60 - Khagorijan & Bukhial

Tea Review 62 - Hattialli & Tippy Orthodox

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