Product Reviews/ Reviews

{Product Review} : Assam1860 CTC black Tea and loving my first taste of CTC Assam

It goes without saying that “good quality leaf makes good tea” . All tea from Assam are not processed equally, they are processed over range of grades, each having different flavor profile defining the region where it grows through so many years in the fertile valley of Brahmaputra. And that is something I have come to understand in my quest for good blend of Assam tea.

Three weeks back when I had received a pack of Assam 1860, it changed my perception towards Assam tea and above all the most unlikable tea quality called ctc ( Crush, Tear, Curl) in general.

assam 1860 tea

For a person who grew up drinking only pure Darjeeling long leaf black tea, Assam always presents a more robust flavor to me, something that hits straight on your head, over stimulant something that I don’t appreciate in the early morning. I prefer my first cup of tea to be mellow, with a fruity and flowery aroma, just like the first flush of golden sun. More so, because I always prefer my tea without milk.

So I had always distanced myself from Assam and ctc in particular. In my home, my parents who were hard tea drinker (7 cups on a regular day) were expert in blending tea of different brand and I found them always ready to pay extra for their treasured cuppa.  One box for pure Darjeeling (orange pekoe) that comes straight from the estate itself (via a generous relative), another Assam black tea (orthodox) and another was for mixed source (fanning, dust and few leaves). And the boxes pretty much used to define the types of tea they are going to have throughout the day, like Darjeeling (black tea) in morning and the milky ones in the evening. Luckily for me I was never a hard tea drinker and for a long time I had stayed away from all these fanaticism. I failed to understand what so special about drinking tea.

assam ctc tea review

Until much later in my life when I had taken tea seriously, I had come to appreciate the fruity and flowery fragrance of Darjeeling, and had learnt from my parent how to steep the tea leaves for stipulated time, till you get that golden sun color. If steeping time exceeds for few seconds more it will add the bitterness to the taste, and if it is less by few seconds, the burst of flavor will not bloom properly.

Tea brewing is an art and there are no hard and fast rules to make perfect cup of tea. Each one is guided by their own palate. Brewing the tea is simple and straightforward. A good leaf makes good tea, so does good tasting water and good quality milk (if you are using it).

assam black tea review

In their own words “Assam 1860 is a black tea brand launching this year from the gardens of James Warren Tea Estate. Our gardens are located in the South bank of upper Assam which makes Assam1860, single origin and unblended. We do very little to the leaves once plucked, ensuring that maximum quality remains and the liquor is gutsier and thicker. Assam1860 aims to become India’s pride. It will be available online, in major supermarket chains and in all popular restaurants and cafes at a well-priced amount. It is not handled by any middlemen, so we bring to you the freshest and tastiest tea available.”

And that is a kind of assurance that the tea remains unblended till it reaches the customer unlike other CTCs where blending defines the rules of CTC quality.

assam tea with milk review

When I had received the package, I was so excited to try another Assam flavor but when I found it was CTC, I was little disappointed. I had never come to appreciate the CTC much, and above all to review it become a daunted task for me. How can I do justice to a CTC tea?

After much brainstorming and several tea sessions with friends and family (they were quiet oblivious to the fact that I am using them as guinea pigs in my experiment) I started to receive the accolades “oh! What a lovely tea, you have made it so perfect”. Things to consider – shall I take the credit to myself or shall I pass it to Assam 1860 ?

So here goes my verdict :

Black tea:  CTC teas are fast infusing, so very carefully measure the steeping time. Difference in few moments can infuse the undesired bitterness in the taste. Pour the boiling water over the tea bags in a cup, that way it infuses better.

For loose granules my measures are just ¼ of tea-spoon. It steeps up a deep ruby colored liquid, inkling slightly towards bitterness. The good news was that the strong aftertaste of tannin was not overpowering unlike other CTC teas.

Milk tea:  CTC takes milk very well. In fact milk unfurl the deeper flavor of Assam tea. Steep the tea in water or directly in milk is personal choice but I would always prefer to add warm milk and sweetener to taste after the tea is brew nicely.

how to brew assam tea

Flavor & Taste profile: flavor profile is relatively flat but that happens with any CTC teas. A nice earthy flavor defines this tea when you smells the granules. The liquor is robust and strong. However with milk, Assam 1860 unfurl nice deeper tones which is very characteristics of Assam tea, full-bodied, mellow, smooth and creamy with a distinct malty flavor. In short, if you like Indian style masala chai, this blend perfectly suits the bill.

Packaging:  Black is attractive color and light green highlights on it makes it even more attractive. What is worth mentioning here are the attractive mesh tea bags for better infusion.  I really loved that.

Summing it up, if you prefer Darjeeling over Assam, and in search of good tea blend for making masala chai or milky teas, then you must try this at least once. And if you are the one who loves Assam, you would be equally impressed.

Small suggestion: I wish they could launch the orthodox tea as well.

Lastly, thanks to Assam1860 team for the free samples and for introducing us to new and better blend of Assam tea.

{Disclaimer : Views expressed here are discretely reserved with the author.}

Hope you have loved the review.

Stay tuned for more

Sukanya

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