Assam tea is a variety of black tea made from the leaves of the plant Camellia sinensis var. assamica. It’s traditionally grown in the northeastern Indian state of Assam, one of the largest tea-producing regions in the world. Because of its naturally high caffeine content, Assam tea is frequently marketed as a breakfast tea. Many Irish and English breakfast teas use Assam or a blend that includes it.
Assam tea is often described as having a malty flavor and a rich, savory aroma. These distinct features are typically attributed to the tea’s unique production process.
After fresh Assam tea leaves are harvested and withered, they undergo an oxidation process — also referred to as fermentation — that exposes them to oxygen in a controlled-temperature environment for a designated period of time.
Research suggests that Assam tea’s rich supply of plant compounds may promote health in a number of ways.
1. Boosts many antioxidants
Black teas like Assam contain several unique plant compounds, including theaflavins, thearubigins, and catechins, which function as antioxidants in your body and may play a role in disease prevention.
Your body naturally produces highly reactive chemicals called free radicals. When too many accumulate, they can damage your tissues and contribute to disease and accelerated aging.
The antioxidants in black tea may counteract the negative effects of free radicals, protecting cells from damage and reducing inflammation.
2. May promote heart health
Some animal studies suggest that polyphenolic compounds in black tea may help reduce cholesterol and prevent the buildup of plaque in blood vessels.
However, human studies give inconsistent results. Several show a strong association between daily intake of 3–6 cups (710–1,420 ml) of black tea and significantly reduced heart disease risk, but others indicate no association.
3. May support immune function
Early research suggests that the polyphenolic compounds in black tea may function like prebiotics in your digestive tract.
Prebiotics are compounds found in various foods that support the growth and maintenance of healthy bacteria in your gut.
A thriving community of healthy gut bacteria is an essential component of proper immune function because it fights harmful bacteria that can potentially make you sick.
4. May have anticancer effects
Several test-tube and animal studies note that various black tea compounds may inhibit the growth and spread of cancer cells.
Additionally, a small body of research in humans has observed associations between black tea intake and a reduced risk of certain cancers, including skin and lung cancer.
5. May promote brain health
Early research suggests that certain compounds in black tea, such as theaflavins, may be used as a treatment or preventative therapy for degenerative brain illnesses.
One recent test-tube study revealed that black tea compounds inhibited the function of certain enzymes responsible for the progression of Alzheimer’s disease.
6. Promoting weight loss
Black tea polyphenols may be beneficial for weight loss and they are very unlikely to have side effects. Studies showed that drinking black tea may reduce a calorie intake, enhance the process of turning fat into energy, and decrease fat accumulation.
7. Lowering blood sugar
Black tea may be beneficial for people with type 2 diabetes as it may help lower blood sugar levels and improve the status of insulin. A statistical study showed the correlation between drinking black tea and lower diabetes cases. The study included data from 50 countries.
If you prefer pure black Assam tea, you'll want to prepare it just as you would prepare any traditional tea. Use filtered water if possible and a temperature controlled teapot to regulate water heat.
- Place an Assam tea bag or a tea infuser containing about one tablespoon of loose tea leaves in a teacup. You can also place loose tea leaves at the bottom of a cup.
- Heat water to 90-95º Celsius or 194-205º Fahrenheit. If you don't have a temperature-controlled teapot, bring water to a boil and then let sit for a minute to reduce the temperature just slightly.
- Pour eight ounces of water over the tea bag, infuser, or tea leaves.
- Let tea leaves steep for as long as desired. Some drinkers prefer a lighter tea, so a two-minute steep is sufficient. A 3-5 minute steep will brew a stronger darker cup of tea, although steeping too long may introduce bitterness.
- Remove the tea bag or infuser or strain loose leaves from the cup before drinking.
Tea experts often say that Assam tea is best served without milk or sweeteners. However, many breakfast tea lovers still add both. To make Assam milk tea, simply add a tablespoon or two of whole milk and sweetened with cane sugar according to your taste preference.