Origin & Ingredients
2nd flush Assam tea is the biggest, brightest, richest and most astringent tea made. It is the backbone to breakfast style teas of nearly all brand and quality although it is also used in many blends for body and top notes. Assam is less floral and has more bread or biscuit-like flavor than other origins, and is often described as malty or coppery.
In comparison, Ceylon teas have less body and astringency and have more minerality to their top notes. Darjeelings are floral and toasty and Keemun is sweet, softer and has more leather and spicy top notes.
We look for these characteristics when sourcing—thick, viscous tea liquors with pronounced astringency and malty flavor. While we are not as concerned with the leaf appearance as the liquor, the leaf has to be full and well sorted, with small to high amount of golden tip.
The Assam region is in Northeast India, bordering Myanmar and China, where the mighty Brahmaputra River flows and one may find the vulnerable one-horned rhinoceros. This region near sea level, with as much as 10-12 inches of rain per day during the monsoon season, produces teas that are full flavored, rich, and chewy with distinct characteristics of caramel and malt. The best teas from this region are plucked and processed in June and July, a harvest also known as the 2nd Flush.
Estates & Gardens
There are exceptions, but most of our teas come from estates located in the Jorhaut area of Assam and are south bank estates- meaning they are on the south bank of the Brahmaputra river. With exotic names such as Hattiali, Dikum, Hajua, Langharjan, Mackeypore, Rungagora, Doomur Dooling, Kobong, and Nokhroy, the estates conjure an exceptional nature that matches the tea.
Assam in Smith Teas
Assam creates the foundation for many of our black teas. It adds a boldness and bite, a flavor that cuts through milk and sugar to create a delicious cup. Assam features very prominently in Brahmin, our version of an English breakfast tea, where the Assam balances out the floral and succulent Ceylons and a touch of smoky Keemun. It is also found in our complex and spicy Masala Chai, where Assam tea is combined with a plethora of spices to be served with steamed milk. Feel free to look through our full list of Assam teas, including Exceptional Iced Tea, perfect for warmer weather.
School Education Retention Program
At Smith Teamaker, we have partnered with local non-profit Mercy Corps and are contributing funds to an educational program called SERP (School Education Retention Program). SERP provides free academic coaching to disadvantaged secondary school students in Assam, to prepare them for college. This summer, 40 of those students will be receiving scholarships to attend college as a result of the gifts that were given in Steve’s honor by way of The Steven Smith Memorial Scholarship Fund. We will be making the trip to India this summer to recognize and celebrate with these students and their families.