Assam is one of the most prolific tea-producing regions in the world. Each year, the tea estates of Assam collectively yield approximately 1,500 million pounds (680,500,000 kg) of tea.
Black tea grown in Assam is one of the most heavily consumed tea types in the UK, as it commonly makes up a large portion of the tea found in English Breakfast Blends. It has a distinctive and malty character, with a robust flavour due to the extremely humid and wet growing environment of the region in India.
Assam tea is manufactured specifically from the plant Camellia Sinensis var. Assamica (Masters), the same tea plant also traditionally used in Yunnan Province in China. Assam tea is mostly grown at or near sea level and is known for its body, briskness, malty flavour, and strong, bright colour.
The region lies on either side of the Brahmaputra River, bordering Bangladesh and Myanmar. This part of India experiences high precipitation; during the monsoon period, as much as 10 to 12 inches (250–300 mm) of rain per day. The daytime temperature rises to about 96.8F (36 °C).
Though the term Assam generally denotes the distinctive black teas from Assam, the region also produces smaller quantities of green and white teas with their own distinctive characteristics. Historically, Assam was the second commercial tea production region after southern China, the only two regions in the world with native tea plants.
The introduction of the Assam tea bush to Europe is related to Robert Bruce, a Scottish adventurer, who apparently encountered it in the year 1823. Bruce reportedly found the plant growing "wild" in Assam while trading in the region.