The Great Tea Fight – Assam vs Assam

There’s no two ways about, I’m a complete tea addict.  The promise of a cup in the morning is the only thing that drags me, all bleary eyed, out of bed.  I suppose that I started writing a tea blog is also a bit of a giveaway that I’m fully reliant on a cuppa.

As much as I love trying out new teas from around the world (and I really do) my go-to brew for everyday life is a bagged Assam from Tesco.  Not only is it quicker and easier than steeping loose leaf teas on a regular basis, it’s also got a great robust flavour to it which, to me, stands out from the vast majority of supermarket teas.  It’s a tea that I’ll enjoy every time I drink it, which is good because it’s a regular throughout my day!

When me and Gabby recently visited Leaf on Bold St. in Liverpool, an amazing tea shop and bar that serves up great loose leaf tea and food, I had a browse of their own range of fifty-odd teas and came across an enticing looking Assam Breakfast Tea.  Without a second thought, it was in Gabby’s bag and on its way home with us. (We did pay for it by the way, in case you wondering!) You can read all about our trip to Leaf here, and if you ever get chance you should definitely pay it a visit.


With this new addition to the tea cupboard though, it meant there were two styles of Assam vying for attention.  It could only result in one thing: Assam fight! Or to give it a more civilised description: a taste test between bagged and loose leaf varieties.  So without further ado, I popped the kettle on and prepared the black tea brethren.

After pouring in the water, I left the two cups to steep for the same amount of time, which was about three minutes.  I noticed that the bagged Assam infused more quickly, and after the steeping time, despite being pretty much the same colour, the loose leaf was less cloudy.  I put both of these down to the size of the leaves in the teabag and the dustier nature of them from production.  The scents of the two were noticeably different too, with the loose Assam having a certain sweetness combined with the malty overtones.

Finally it was time for the main event: the tasting.

In the orange corner, the bagged behemoth. In the yellow corner, the loose leaf legend. Let’s get ready to ruuuumble!

It was actually a closer run thing than I had expected.  They both had the trademark strength and maltiness, as well as the astringency that Assam is known for.  Where Leaf’s Assam rose above though was through the depth of flavour that the bagged tea simply did not have.  There was so much more in there; the sweetness that was present in the scent as well as a smoky note which was reminiscent of a Keemun tea that I had tried previously.  Overall, they were both good, but as expected I suppose, the loose leaf Assam simply offered so much more in terms of taste and scent.  To put in some kind of sporting context and continue the boxing metaphor…it was a close fight but the loose leaf won it with a late knockout.

Despite the result, I will definitely keep on drinking both of the teas.  I don’t always have time for steeping tea and sometimes all the effort you want to go to is chucking a teabag in a mug!

I strongly recommend trying the Assam Breakfast tea from Leaf on Bold St. though, and if you want to do so, you can do check out their website here.  There are a whole load of other amazing teas to choose from as well!

I hope you enjoyed the clash of the Assams.  Are you an Assam lover like me?  Have you ever bagged tea that you preferred to its loos leaf equivalent?  Please leave your comments below, I’d love to hear from you.



12 Comments Add yours

  1. Miriam C says:

    Never tried assam! I think I will have to find a good brand here and give it a try!


    1. Rory says:

      I definitely would! It’s a classic black tea that features in the majority of English Breakfast teas, if you can find a good quality, unblended Assam though it can be a great cuppa.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. In a fair fight loose leaf will win over the bag every time!

    I know I tend to bang on about them, but I can’t recommend large paper tea filters highly enough. You get the convenience of the bag combined with the quality of loose leaf.

    The added time overhead is minimal, and easily off-set by the economics of being able to re-steep multiple times.

    Here endeth the sermon for today! 🙂


    1. Rory says:

      Yeah I thought that might be the case. It was interesting to see what remained of the ‘Assam’ flavour in the teabag and just how different/similar they could actually be.
      The tea filters do sound like a good idea, I think I’ll have to look into getting some.
      I plan to continue with this ‘tea fight’ series but probably compare loose teas of the same variety but from different growing regions. That might be more of an even fight!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. That would be a good way to investigate the concept of “terroir”and how subtle differences in climate, soil, elevation and what have you affect the taste of the tea.


      2. Rory says:

        I agree, and it would definitely give my palate a workout too!

        Liked by 1 person

  3. I’ve never had Assam, but I will look for it the next time I’m at the store. I’m not at fan of boxing, but I’d watch (or read) one of your tea fights any day!


    1. Rory says:

      If you’re a black tea fan then Assam is definitely worth a try!
      Ah brilliant, thank you very much! I’m thinking of making the ‘tea fights’ a regular feature so I should have some more coming soon!


  4. wren08 says:

    I really like Assam in general… but it’s hard to get here unless I order it from Adagio.
    I so wish that Leaf on Bold St would ship to the USA- there are some amazing sounding teas I’d love to try (and I’m envious that you have such a lovely place locally!)


    1. Rory says:

      Oh is it? That’s a shame, I think it makes a really nice everyday tea. I’m yet to try Adagio’s Assam but I will have to soon!
      Is Keemun tea any easier to find? I found that quite similar but with a slight smokiness, very nice indeed!
      They do have a lot of great teas to choose from, I can’t wait to try some more. Fingers crossed a place opens up near you soon!


  5. kamrupablog says:

    Thanks sir for all your words, while we the natives of Assam not able to create a ” Brand Assam”…


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s