Wednesday, 15 June 2011

a selection of malty and not so malty Assam

Now that I have my sense of taste back, I've been drinking quite a lot of Assam. I go through phases where I really focus in on one tea that I like at the moment, but several months ago I ordered multiple sorts of Assam from Claus Kröger in Hamburg.

Here's a link to the selection he has on offer: Schwarzer Tee Assam

So rather than sit down and do a traditional tea note on each of these that I like, which I still may do at a later date, I've been brewing two or even three of these teas side by side and then drinking them without a lot of fuss throughout the morning. I love the smell of the Assam Sephinjuri tea before it's brewed. That smell doesn't necessarily come out in the taste of the tea, but it's still a delicious tea.

Since I'm often brewing the tea on my own (without fellow tea drinkers), it's not so easy for me to do some sort of blind taste test of the different teas. In addition, I'm getting to know the tastes well enough that I very likely could tell you which is which even if someone were to hand me a cup without telling me what it was.

But I've been wondering about the cost and whether the more expensive tea is really noticeably better. Going simply by price, the above-mentioned Sephinjuri must be a simple, unassuming tea. Like I say, I find it delicious. Why is it so much more economical? I'm not complaining. When I think back on some of the tea shops I visited in the US and their prices for an ounce of simple black tea, these prices are truly a steal.

Is the Assam Mangalam really that much better? The tips of the leaves are definitely a beautiful golden brown. The smell of both the leaves and the brewed tea are both extraordinary. No doubt about that.

But is my opinion somehow swayed by how much more expensive this second tea is? I guess that's human nature, isn't it? If a tea costs more, it must be of greater value. Right?

I'm probably opening up a topic that we as the end users can hardly begin to comprehend. But I am curious about it. Not only why tea costs what it does, but what factors make different tea from the same region so varied in price? As always, I'd love to hear your thoughts.

Am sure it's not the last time I'll be pondering this.


  1. As far as assams are concerned, it is all relative to the auction price.
    Teas are auctioned off and vendors and large (wholesale) retailers are willing to pay for a tea that has a higher grade.
    Grade does not denote the taste, but merely the quality of the leaf, I.E. a higher amount of tips. It is really all relative to the drinker. A tea that is of "low quality" could be better in the eyes of a customer than a tea that is of "high quality."
    But there needed to be some sort of standardized system under which these teas were to be produced and how the pricing would pan out.
    It is a vastly complicated system and us, as consumers, will never understand or comprehend all of the details.

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