Assam Tea vs Darjeeling Tea
If you are a westerner who loves consuming tea every morning, and thereafter whenever he can lay his hands on it, it is likely you have heard the names Assam and Darjeeling teas. These two are two of the most popular teas in the world because of their aromas and distinctive flavors. Both are produced in India, in different regions of course, called Assam and Darjeeling respectively, and are not only expensive, but also considered the highest quality teas of the world. There are some similarities in tastes of these two teas. However, there are many differences between Assam tea and Darjeeling tea that will be highlighted in this article.
Though, Assam tea is so famous in all parts of the world today, it was not cultivated here till the British introduced its cultivation in the hilly regions of Assam. Tea is mainly grown in Assam and Darjeeling in India that are adjacent to each other lying in the states of Assam and West Bengal respectively. Though the climate is similar, the method of cultivation is different giving different flavors to both the teas. First and major difference pertains to land on which tea is cultivated in the two regions. While in Assam, tea is planted on lowlands, it is cultivated on highlands in Darjeeling. The foothills of Himalayas in Darjeeling provide a unique flavor to the tea, which is why it is a very expensive tea loved by the western world. What is interesting is that, tea bush is not native to Darjeeling and the tea plant was introduced here by bringing it from Assam and China.
As the climate in Assam is ideal for tea cultivation, most of the tea in India is produced here. Brahmaputra River valley has a rich, clayey soil, and short cool winters coupled with hot and humid summers with plenty of rainfall that make it perfect for the production of world class tea in Assam. Out of 900 million kg of tea produced in India, nearly 600 million kg comes from Assam. There are two harvests of Assam tea with first flush being picked in the last of March or beginning of April, and the second flush in September. The second flush is known as tippy tea because of appearance of gold tips on the leaves. This second flush is also sweeter than the first flush and has a full bodied flavor, which is why second flush is considered superior, and is sold at higher prices than first flush. Color of the leaves of Assam tea is dark green and it is glossy.
Darjeeling tea, though it has high demand, is low in quantity. This is because the area where tea is grown is much smaller than Assam tea and the acreage of the land is also much lower than Assam tea. Climate being colder and harsher than in Assam, the growth is slower and it is much harder to grow tea in Darjeeling than Assam. Darjeeling tea often promises much, but fails to deliver. However, during years when the production is high and climate suitable for tea cultivation, there is not other tea in the world that can even come close to Darjeeling tea in quality, flavor, aroma, and taste.
In Darjeeling, tea is planted on the foothills of Kanchenjunga peaks and slopes of around 45 degrees. This provides for easy drainage of the generous rainfall that the region receives during the rainy season. Darjeeling tea does not grow beyond a height of 6000 feet. But the higher the plantation, more concentrated is the flavor but there are other factors such as wind, clouds, soil quality and sunshine that add up to provide unique flavor to Darjeeling tea.
What is the difference between Assam Tea and Darjeeling Tea?
• Assam tea is grown on lowlands, while Darjeeling tea is grown on highlands.
• Harvesting time of Assam tea is longer than Darjeeling tea.
• Assam tea leaves are darker and glossier than Darjeeling.
• Darjeeling contributes to a miniscule amount of tea, while an overwhelming majority of tea comes from Assam.
• Darjeeling tea is high in quality, flavor, aroma, and taste.
• Darjeeling tea is more expensive than Assam tea.