Abbreviations can be a little confusing. I thought TGFOP1 stood for “Thank God For Oscar Peterson’s 1st Symphony”. Only when I became a …erm… tea aficionado did I learn it means Tippy Golden Flowery Orange Pekoe #1 (number 1 denoting the very finest grade), and even that at first seemed about as clear as a gluten-free brownie. However, a quick glance on our Nerd Zone tab (above) will reveal that it’s not all double-Dutch.
Assam is well-loved as a delightful, astringent black tea. Our choice is from the Corramore Estate, near Bhutan in the Darrang district of Assam in NE India. The leaves are large, twisted, warm brown and flecked with gold tips (a bit like a footballer’s highlighted perm from the mid-80’s). The infusion is such a stunning mid-amber colour, that were Da Vinci alive, he would most likely dip his is paint brush into it and start on another Madonna and child canvas. And the taste is rich, sweet, malty and smooth. The cup is bright and clean. Enjoy ideally naked or with lemon or milk, a great way to salute a new morning.
Leaf Large, twisted, warm copper colour and flecked with gold tips
Aroma Floral aroma with a hint of soft leather / hay
Liquor Mid-amber / copper colour
Cupping Notes Delicate, clean cup, smooth, slightly malty, notes of apricot
Brewing Tips 2.5g in 200ml of water at 100c. Steep for 4-5 mins
About the Assam Region:
This region of India is location in the NE of the country. Assam literally means: “Land of the one-horned rhino” and is a stunning area of dense forest and rolling hills where the vast Brahmaputra River carries rich fertile soil from Tibetan mountains to the agricultural plains that flank the river. It’s a bit like the Lake District without shops selling Kendal Mint Cake and the bank holiday traffic.
Assam is the largest tea-growing area of India, accounting for over 55% of India’s total tea production (around 850,000 tons).
The Brahmaputra Valley borders China, Myanmar and Bangladesh, although Assam teas are as different to Darjeelings as Liverpool fans are to Man Utd’s. Rainfall is extremely high in Assam, (80-120 inches p.a.). It’s not uncommon for a foot of rain to fall in a day and the temperature can reach 40°C on the plantations. The tea plants adore this humid, hot weather and they grow from spring to late autumn, before the cold weather slows their growth.
The grades for whole leaf orthodox black tea are: Ceylon orange pekoe (OP) grades
||slightly delicate, long, wiry leaf with the light liquor
||bold, long leaf tea which ranges from tightly wound to almost open
||main grade, in the middle between OP1 and OPA, can consist of long wiry leaf without tips
||primarily from Indonesia, similar to OP
||high quality tea with a long leaf and few tips, considered the second grade in Assam, Dooars and Bangladesh teas, but the first grade in China
||as above, but with only the highest quality leaves in the FOP classification
|Golden Flower OP1
||higher proportion of tip than FOP top grade
|Tippy Golden FOP
||the highest proportion of tip, main grade in Darjeeling and Assam
||as above, but with only the highest quality leaves in the TGFOP classification