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Tea 201 - Indian Black Tea - Assam vs Darjeeling

Indian Teas: Assam vs Darjeeling
Indian Teas: Assam vs Darjeeling

Assam and Darjeeling…some of you may have heard those words thrown around (I know I have).  They are both black teas grown in different regions of Indian (the Assam and Darjeeling regions…guess which ones came from where).  Oh, and they both have good amounts of caffeine.  That is as far as the similarities go.


Assam tea is said to be darker and redder in color than Darjeeling.  According to some, Darjeeling does not change color when brewed.


According to the Tea Board of India, the Darjeeling leaves are smaller than Assam.  Darjeeling are also said to have fine hairs on the underside, which are lost during drying.


Assam is easier to grow and stronger in flavor, which makes it a preferable candidate to brands for Lipton, Tetley or Celestial Seasonings.  Assam grows year round.  The region of Assam is also considering larger than Darjeeling.  Darjeeling, on the other hand, has four separate growing periods, which produce smaller loads.  There are 80 Darjeeling tea gardens in less than 70 square miles compared to the 800 tea estates in Assam.


Darjeeling is harder to grow than Assam therefore making it more expensive.  It also has a shorter harvesting season than Assam.


It is said that brewed Assam is stronger in flavor than Darjeeling.  The Tea Board of India describes Darjeeling as having a flavor like a ‘delicate muscatel.’  This lends itself to comparing Darjeeling teas as the ‘champagne of teas.’

There is also a lesser known third type of Indian tea called Nilgiris, or Blue Mountain, which is found at the southwestern tip of India.  This type of tea can be harvested year round.  In fact, Nilgiri produces for a rare type of tea called ‘frost tea.’  This tea is created when the leaves are harvested in winter after receiving a gentle coating of frost.

Cool, no?  What do you guys think?