Assam Tea – Nutritional Value, Health Benefits

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Assam tea is a black tea named after the region of its production, Assam, India. Assam tea is manufactured specifically from the plant Camellia sinensis var. assamica (Masters).[rx][rx] Assam tea is indigenous to Assam. Initial efforts of planting Chinese varieties in Assam soil did not succeed.[rx][rx] Although Assam tea is now mostly grown at or near sea level and is known for its body, briskness, malty flavor, and strong, bright color. Assam teas, or blends containing Assam, are often sold as “breakfast” teas. For instance, Irish breakfast tea, a maltier and stronger breakfast tea, consists of small-sized Assam tea leaves.[rx]

Assam tea is one of the most common types of tea in the world, even if you don’t immediately recognize the name. It is packed with nutrients that can boost your health in a number of ways.

What is Assam Tea?

Assam tea is a type of black tea, which is named after the region in India in which it is grown, which happens to be the largest tea-growing region in the world, and has native tea plants, just as the major tea-growing regions in Southern China. This particular subtype of tea is scientifically classified as Camellia sinensis var. assamica but maybe more commonly known as an English breakfast tea. The majority of the teas grown in this region are grown as breakfast teas, although there are also white and green tea varieties cultivated there. [rx]

There is caffeine in Assam tea, approximately 80 mg in every 8-ounce cup, making it one of the strongest teas in terms of caffeine, second mainly to chai tea. The taste of this tea is widely recognized as slightly mellow and earthy, with a smooth buttery overtone. There is a strong malty flavor in the tea as well, and this variable flavor is what makes it one of the most popular brews on the planet.

History of Assam Tea

While on a trade expedition through the Assam area with Singpho in 1823 Robert Bruce was introduced to a plant with which the Singpho and Khamti people made beverages and food. Through his brother, Charles Alexander Bruce who was in Sadiya, samples were sent to botanist Nathaniel Wallich who mistook it for camellia kissi. It was not until over a decade later that the Singpho’s plant would be recognized as being the same plant as the Camellia sinensis growing in China, after Francis Jenkins and Andrew Charlton responded to the request of the British East India Company’s Tea Committee for its agents to review prospects for establishing a source of tea outside of China. Charles Bruce guided a team, including Nathaniel Wallich, William Griffith and John McClelland, dispatched from the Tea Committee in 1836, to review the plant in its natural growing conditions around Sadiya. It was cultivated in the company’s experimental garden with the first batch shipped to London in 1838 and auctioned in January 1839. Though it sold well the batch was noted as lacking fragrance compared to the tea from China which had been selectively cultivated for hundreds of years and having a dullness thought to be a consequence of inexperienced processing.[9] That same year, two companies were incorporated to pursue the tea’s development in Assam: the Assam Tea Association in London and the Bengal Tea Association in Kolkata, though they quickly amalgamated to form the Assam Company. Despite early proponents such as Maniram Dewan, British-led land reforms such as the Waste Lands Act to clear and privatize plots of land for agricultural purposes, the Assam Company struggled and was forced to reorganize in 1847. Similarly, despite having access to a large source of inexpensive labor, including tea-makers smuggled out of China, indentured Indians, and refugees from famine-stricken areas, Assam at the time was a sparsely-populated, hot and humid undeveloped area and many died of disease. Despite the poor results, investment came from Britain to establish additional tea gardens, such as the Jorehaut Tea Company around Jorhat, in the 1860s through by 1870 56 of the 60 companies operating tea gardens in Assam went bankrupt. Industrial mechanization in the 1870s finally resulted in profitable companies as more plucked leaves were able to be dried without rotting in the humid environment. Heated withering tables and steam-powered rolling machines precipitated a need for grading so the British adapted the existing systems of tea leaf grading to sort their products. The Indian Tea Districts Association was established in London in 1879 and in Kolkata in 1881 (as the Indian Tea Association) to organize and advance these tea interests. By 1888 tea imported from India finally exceeded that from China.[rx]

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Assam Tea Health Benefits

The top benefits of Assam tea include boosting cardiovascular health, preventing certain cancers, improving cognitive function, and speeding the metabolism, among many others.

  • Cancer – A 2017 research study reveals that black tea like Assam tea contains quite a few phenolic compounds and other antioxidants that can help inhibit the spread of cancer. More human trials are awaited but the results look promising. [rx] The active ingredients in this tea have been linked to improving the integrity of your blood vessels and arteries, thus making you less likely to develop plaque buildup in your cardiovascular system, and lowering your risk of cardiovascular disease. [rx]
  • Metabolism – Caffeine is a stimulant substance, and as such, can increase the rate of your metabolism, not only giving you an energetic boost but also improving certain metabolic functions, such as fat-burning. [rx]
  • Digestion – There is a slight laxative effect of this tea, and it can help to keep your bowels regular, particularly if you regularly suffer from bouts of constipation. [rx]
  • Cognitive Function – Studies have found that this tea can help to improve mental alertness, and with the notable levels of antioxidants, it can also prevent oxidative stress in the brain, which can reduce your risk of neurodegenerative diseases, such as Parkinson’s disease. [rx]
  • It May have some health benefits – Research suggests that Assam tea’s rich supply of plant compounds may promote health in a number of ways.
  • Boasts many antioxidants  – Black teas like Assam contain several unique plant compounds, including theaflavins, thearubigins, and catechins, which function as antioxidants in your body and may play a role in disease prevention (rx, rx). Your body naturally produces highly reactive chemicals called free radicals. When too many accumulate, they can damage your tissues and contribute to disease and accelerated aging (rx). The antioxidants in black tea may counteract the negative effects of free radicals, protecting cells from damage and reducing inflammation (rx). Many experts believe that these compounds give black tea its health-promoting qualities.
  • May promote heart health – Some animal studies suggest that polyphenolic compounds in black tea may help reduce cholesterol and prevent the buildup of plaque in blood vessels (rx). However, human studies give inconsistent results. Several show a strong association between daily intake of 3–6 cups (710–1,420 ml) of black tea and significantly reduced heart disease risk, but others indicate no association ( rx, rx). Ultimately, more research is needed to understand how black teas like Assam affect heart health.
  • May support immune function – Early research suggests that the polyphenolic compounds in black tea may function like prebiotics in your digestive tract (rx). Prebiotics are compounds found in various foods that support the growth and maintenance of healthy bacteria in your gut (rx). A thriving community of healthy gut bacteria is an essential component of proper immune function because it fights harmful bacteria that can potentially make you sick (rx). That said, insufficient evidence exists on the link between black tea and immunity. More research is needed.
  • May have anticancer effects – Several test-tube and animal studies note that various black tea compounds may inhibit the growth and spread of cancer cells (rx). Additionally, a small body of research in humans has observed associations between black tea intake and a reduced risk of certain cancers, including skin and lung cancer (rx). Although this data is promising, larger, comprehensive human studies are needed to determine whether black tea can be used for cancer prevention or treatment.
  • May promote brain health – Early research suggests that certain compounds in black tea, such as theaflavins, may be used as a treatment or preventative therapy for degenerative brain illnesses. One recent test-tube study revealed that black tea compounds inhibited the function of certain enzymes responsible for the progression of Alzheimer’s disease (rx). Although encouraging, this study is one of the first of its kind. More research is needed to better understand black tea’s role in supporting healthy brain function.

Various compounds in black tea may play a role in preventing chronic diseases, including cancer and Alzheimer’s, as well as supporting heart and immune function.

Potential downsides

Although Assam tea makes for a healthy beverage for most people, it may not be appropriate for everyone.

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Caffeine content

  • Assam tea provides caffeine, which could be a detractor for anyone avoiding or limiting their intake of this stimulant.
  • The exact amount of caffeine in 1 cup (240 ml) of Assam tea varies depending on how long it’s steeped but is typically around 60–112 mg. For comparison, 1 cup (240 ml) of brewed coffee provides about 100–150 mg (rx).
  • For most people, consuming up to 400 mg of caffeine per day is not associated with adverse health effects. That said, excessive intake could lead to negative symptoms, such as rapid heartbeat, anxiety, and insomnia (rx).
  • If you’re pregnant, it’s suggested to limit caffeine consumption to no more than 200 mg per day (rx).
  • If you’re unsure whether caffeine is appropriate for your lifestyle, talk to your medical practitioner before adding Assam tea to your routine.

Reduced iron absorption

  • Assam tea may reduce your absorption of iron due to its particularly high levels of tannins. These compounds give black tea its naturally bitter flavor (rx).
  • Some research indicates that tannins bind with iron in your food, potentially rendering it unavailable for digestion. This reaction affects your absorption of plant-based iron sources much more than it does animal sources (rx).
  • While this isn’t a major concern for most healthy individuals, it may be best for people with low iron levels to avoid black tea at mealtimes or with iron supplements.

Heavy metals

  • Tea frequently contains heavy metals, such as aluminum, although the amount present in any given tea is highly variable.
  • Excessive aluminum intake can contribute to bone loss and neurological damage, especially for people with kidney disease (rx).
  • However, tea consumption is not generally associated with aluminum toxicity. It remains unclear precisely how much aluminum is absorbed when you drink tea (rx). As a precaution, it’s best to practice moderation and avoid excessive consumption of Assam tea.

Assam tea has a few potential downsides. It may reduce iron absorption and increase your aluminum exposure. What’s more, some people may need to be mindful of its caffeine content.

How to Make Assam Tea?

Due to the global popularity of Assam tea, it is widely available in both loose leaf and tea bag form; both are prepared in a similar way. Let us take a look at the recipe below.

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Methods 1

Assam Tea Recipe

  • Course: Beverage
  • Cuisine: Indian
  • Keyword: Assam tea
  • Appliance: Stove
  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Cook Time: 10 minutes
  • Total Time: 15 minutes
  • Servings: 1 cup

Ingredients

  • 8 ounces  of filtered water
  • 1 tsp of loose Assam tea leaf
  • 1 tsp of honey

Instructions

  • To make Assam tea, add 1 teaspoon of loose-leaf Assam tea into a teapot for every 8 ounces of water.
  • Bring water to a boil in a kettle. Allow water to cool to just below boiling, then add to the tea leaves.
  •  Let this mixture steep for 2 minutes. Strain out the leaves. You can add a teaspoon of honey to enhance the taste. You can also add milk if you wish to do so. Serve hot and enjoy!

Methods 2

Easy to prepare

Assam tea is very simple to make. All you need is tea, hot water, and a mug or teapot.

  • Plus, it’s relatively inexpensive and widely available. You can find it in tea shops, your local grocery store, or online. Make sure to choose a high-quality brand, as these usually boast a greater concentration of beneficial compounds ( rx).
  • Assam may be sold in loose-leaf form or pre-portioned tea bags. If you buy loose-leaf, you’ll want to aim for about 1 teaspoon (around 2 grams) of tea per 8 ounces (240 ml) of water.
  • First, boil water and let it cool for 10–20 seconds before pouring it over the tea. Allow it to steep for about 2 minutes, or according to the package instructions. Take care not to over-steep, as this will produce a very bitter flavor.
  • For optimal health, Assam tea should be consumed without any added ingredients. If you prefer to add a bit of milk or sugar, just be careful not to spoon in too much sweetener.

Assam Tea Side Effects

There are some side effects of drinking this black tea of which you should be aware, including an elevated risk of anxiety disorders, bleeding issues, sleep problems, high blood pressure, indigestion, and others. However, these side effects are all linked to drinking an excessive amount of this tea. In moderation, drinking a caffeinated beverage is not inherently dangerous. Similarly, pregnant women should only consume this tea if they have consent from their doctor.

From Where To Buy

Organic Assam Tea Bags | 100 Tea Bags | Eco-Conscious Tea Bags in Kraft Bag | by FGO
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Organic Assam Tea Bags | 100 Tea Bags | Eco-Conscious Tea Bags in Kraft Bag | by FGO
  • ASSAM TEA BAGS - 100 Tea Bags filled with premium assam tea from India.
  • ORGANIC ASSAM TEA - The tea is filled into tea bags and packed into foil-lined kraft bags in California
  • 100 ECO-CONSCIOUS TEA BAGS - Our premium tea bags are constructed of Abacá Hemp Fiber Paper. They are free of dyes, adhesive, glue and chlorine bleach. No staples, strings, bags or extra waste - just delicious tea!
  • CERTIFIED USDA ORGANIC - All our products are certified USDA Organic by California Certified Organic Farmers (CCOF), a leader in organic certification. Look for the USDA Organic seal on our products!
  • LOVE IT OR WE BUY IT - We don’t think you should pay for products that you don’t love. If you aren’t enjoying our Organic Assam Tea, simply let us know and we will refund your order - it’s as easy as that!

References

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