NEW! Indian Assam: Sessa Estate’s “Best & Finest”

Indian Assam from Sessa Estate

We are pleased to offer an Assamese tea from a famous estate dating back to 1897.  Named after nearby Sessa River (“Cold” in Assamese), the Sessa Estate is in Darrang District on the banks of the mighty Brahmaputra River. The river valley stretches all the way across the isolated region of Northeast India, as does the state of Assam, with western borders shared with Bangladesh and eastern borders touching Myanmar. It is a place of incredible beauty and rich biodiversity, home to many endangered species including the Indian rhinoceros.

Further from ports and travel destinations than famous mountainous micro-regions of Darjeeling and Sikkim, the low-lying state of Assam is less well-known in the US. However, its tea tradition is unrivaled –it is the origin of Camellia sinensis var. assamica, the sub-species of tea that was cultivated on enormous plantations by the British in the second half of the 19th century, not only in India but also Sri Lanka and Kenya, and that now supplies most of the world’s black tea.

In Assam, tea is grown at low altitude in the abundant alluvial soils of the Brahmaputra River valley. With steep Himalayan mountains just a few miles to the north, Assam receives drenching monsoon rains coupled with intense heat that create a greenhouse effect in which tea bushes thrive, while relatively cool winters protect them from pests (in most other places, tea is grown at higher altitudes).

According to state sources, the total tea harvested and processed in Assam is 650 million kilograms, or about 1.4 billion pounds, each year! Assam is considered the global leader in tea production, but we are less familiar with it here in the US because the majority goes to tea-lovers in Russia and the Middle East. However, “Irish Breakfast” tea is typically made with Assamese tea leaves, and it is loved for its bold malty flavor. Most tea connoisseurs prefer the “second flush” Assamese teas, which are usually “tippy” and have full body and rich sweetness.

Assam is full of tea estates; Sessa is known as one of the best, receiving excellence awards from the Tea Board of India. This selection is their top lot, a beautiful tippy assamica, very small whole leaves tinged with orange. The liquor produced is also a pleasing warm amber color, with malty aroma reminiscent of fresh baked croissants. Overall relatively mild in flavor, this is an exceedingly refined Assamese tea, with a perfect dryness that lingers on the palate after the initial sweet and malty flavors fade. Detectable in this delicate astringency are grapefruit and almond notes, but mostly you will be charmed by the up-front molasses sweetness and silky malty body of this flawless second flush tippy black tea.

Steeping Time – 3 minutes

Water Temp – 212 F

Assamese tippy whole leaf black tea

Buy Sessa Estate’s “Best & Finest” Assamese Black Tea

Selecting the Best Coffee Grinder for Your Home Roasted Coffee Beans

buying and using a burr coffee grinder

Imagine waking up in the morning, eager to drink your first freshly brewed coffee of the day, only to disappoint your eager taste buds with a stale and flavorless liquid. You can avoid this scenario with the right coffee grinder.

Before you even take your first sip, the absence of the delicious aroma of freshly brewed coffee will likely be a huge letdown as well. This could become a reality for you if the ground coffee you purchased from a retail outlet is past its prime. Ground coffee loses its flavor more quickly than roasted coffee beans. You may find it advantageous to invest in a high-quality coffee grinder if you are a home coffee brewer.

Why do I need a coffee grinder?

Consider how much money is wasted when throwing out stale ground coffee.

Having a coffee grinder at your disposal will allow you to grind only the amount of beans needed for each batch of coffee, greatly decreasing your chances of wasting unused coffee grounds.

How do I choose the best coffee grinder?

Let’s start off with the types of coffee grinders available – blade and burr. 

coffee grinding
blade coffee grinder

Blade coffee grinders are the most cost-efficient and their movement is similar to that of a blender. The blades spin at a high-speed chopping roasted coffee beans and not actually grinding them. These grinders are also known as coffee mills.

Burr coffee grinders get their name from the two revolving rough surfaces (burrs) that grind the coffee beans. Moving between the burrs, the coffee beans are ground a few at a time. There are many options to consider if you are interested in purchasing a burr coffee grinder and they are sold within a wide price range. Things to consider are the size, power source (manual vs. electric), and the shape of the burrs (conical vs. flat).

So which type is better when comparing blade coffee grinders vs. burr coffee grinders?

Here are some things to consider when choosing between blade and burr coffee grinders:

1. Price

Blade coffee grinders would be your choice if you are looking for the least expensive option. In most cases, you get what you pay for when price is your main criteria. Blade grinders come with fewer options and tend to have a shorter lifespan.

Some may find blade coffee grinders to be an attractive option if they plan on using theirs to grind other things such as spices, giving them more bang for their buck. However, without a thorough cleaning, grinding other things with your coffee grinder will likely affect the coffee taste.

When it comes to burr coffee grinders, consider purchasing a manual one which will give you a consistent grind without the higher price of an electric version. However, what you don’t pay in dollars, you pay in labor.

When it comes to burr coffee grinders, consider purchasing a manual one which will give you a consistent grind without the higher price of an electric version. However, what you don’t pay in dollars, you pay in labor.

2. Grind Size

With blade coffee grinders, you cannot adjust the grind size as you can with burr coffee grinders. In fact, blade coffee grinders chop up the coffee beans into pieces of varying size. On the other hand, the grind size from burr grinders is more uniform.

Coffee Grinder infographic

You might be wondering why coffee grind size even matters.

The grind size will affect the overall flavor of your coffee. To get the most flavorful cup of coffee, the optimal grind size will depend on your brewing method. Pairing the wrong grind size and brewing method may result in coffee that is under- or over-extracted. You can use this guide to help you find the right combination.

There is even more to consider when you are looking to produce a finer coffee grind.

Producing a finer grind requires the coffee beans to be ground (or chopped) for a longer period of time. The high speed at which blade grinders rotate generates heat, ultimately resulting in a brewed coffee with a scorched or burnt flavor.

Bottom line: A burr coffee grinder will produce a more flavorful cup of coffee.

3. Preparation Time

Undoubtedly, self-grinding your coffee beans will increase your total coffee preparation time. Coffee lovers would likely agree that it is well worth the extra time to optimize the flavor from your coffee beans.

As you make your purchase decision, it’s important to consider how much coffee you make on a regular basis. Blade grinders and electric burr grinders will grind coffee beans more quickly than manual burr grinders. The time difference may not be a significant issue when grinding beans for a single serving of coffee. However, your coffee prep time may increase considerably when brewing larger batches. 

Manual coffee grinder
manual coffee grinder

Considering all the factors, most coffee aficionados will agree that burr coffee grinders give them the highest return in flavor on their investment in high-quality coffee beans. The adjustments available with burr coffee grinders also allow devoted coffee drinkers to more easily experiment with flavors by adjusting the grind size and brewing methods.

If you’re convinced a burr coffee grinder is the optimal choice, you may be wondering…

What’s the difference between Conical and Flat Burr Coffee Grinders?

Besides the shape of the burrs, differences between the two types of burr coffee grinders include: 

  • Grind Size Consistency – Flat burr coffee grinders produce a more consistent grind size, but the difference really can’t be detected without the aid of a microscope. The less consistent grind size of conical burr coffee grinders is desirable when brewing espresso.
  • Cleaning – Their shape makes flat burr coffee grinders more difficult to clean as more grounds become trapped in the burrs relative to the conical shaped ones. When grinding different types of coffee beans, trapped grounds from previous grindings can affect the flavor of your next cup of coffee. 
  • Price – Conical coffee grinders are more cost-effective than flat burr coffee grinders due to their slower motor. A less powerful motor results in less heat and noise generation.

Conical burr coffee grinders are more commonly used with home coffee brewing. 

There are many other “bells and whistles” you may consider when selecting your coffee grinder including the number of settings/adjustments, timers, and digital displays. 

Baratza Sette 30 AP coffee grinder

If you are interested in investing in a conical burr grinder with advanced design, the Baratza Sette 30 AP is a great option to consider. Its revolutionary design allows it to operate more efficiently at a reasonable price. 

See all of our Best Coffee Grinders here.