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 than the more famous 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 which 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 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 creates 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 orange 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