21 January 2007

Camellia sinensis var assamica

In May of 1838, 350 pounds of Assam tea were sent to London. It sold at India House the following January, to great success. Thus was born the tea industry in Assam, the greatest of all teas.

Assam is a region in northeast India, where the tea leaves grow in the lowlands. Assam blends can be found in English, Irish, and Scottish Breakfast teas. Today, Assam constitutes approximately half of all tea production on the continent. The Tea Board of India has given Assam its own distinctive logo, which is displayed on only 100% Assam teas.

I didn't start drinking tea until I lived in England. As a Floridian, drinking it throughout the day was the only way I could keep warm in my underheated Oxford flat. It's fair to say I am now a tea addict. I must have my pot of dark red Assam in the morning, and a second one in the afternoon (sometimes I switch to Darjeeling). It's generally expensive to buy in tea emporiums, but how delighted I was to find a great big bag of the stuff at the local Indian grocery store, sold for a pittance. The way I make it, it comes out malty, red, and dark as coffee. Pour it steaming hot into the cup, add a bit of cream: lovely.