There are so many tea producing nations, India is the second-largest tea producing nation in the world. In fact, approximately about 4 % of India’s national income comes from the Tea business. India has almost 18 states out of 29 who are producing tea of various types, major contributions coming from the North-East part of the country. Assam tea and Darjeeling tea are the maximum known teas in India. They are the highest contributors in tea production and then we have Meghalaya, Arunachal Pradesh, Tripura, Dooars, Sikkim producing excellent quality teas. In southwest India, we have the Nilgiri teas.
Differences between Assam tea and Darjeeling Tea:-
Across India, Assam and Darjeeling are considered to be major tea producing regions in terms of both quantity & quality. The tea produced in these areas is extremely popular worldwide for their aromas and distinctive flavors. We have identified the following ways in which these types of teas are different from each other.
The difference in Camellia Sinensis variety:-
Most of the tea produced in Assam is of the Camellia Sinensis var. Assamica type, in fact, they uniquely born out of Assam. On the other hand, the teas of Darjeeling are like the Chinese origin, the gentler variety Camellia Sinensis var. Sinensis. The sizes of the leaves differ – the Darjeeling tea leaves are smaller than those of Assam. As per the history of tea in the early 19th Century, the East India Company officers discovered the Assamica variety teas which were grown by the Singhpo community tribes in Assam. They were found to be much different from any other known type of tea leaves. The Darjeeling tea leaves like their Chinese counterparts are delicate compared to the much stronger Assamese tea leaves.
The difference in growing areas Altitude:-
The Tea cultivation in Assam is practiced along the Brahmaputra river on the rich clay river soil in the lowlands. The Darjeeling tea is cultivated at higher altitudes on the slopes & foothills of the mountains of the Himalayas.
The difference in Climatic condition:-
The Tea growing parts of Assam being lowland riverine areas, they experience mostly hot & humid summers with lots of rainfall, whereas the Darjeeling climate being on the Himalayan side is comparatively colder and harsher.
The difference in Flavor & Color:-
To some customers, in terms of taste, Darjeeling tea is slightly spicier than Assam tea. Assam tea is worldwide famous due to its strong malty flavor with a deep brownish infusion and liqueur. The Earl grey black tea varieties are made with Assam tea. On the other hand, Darjeeling tea is known for its floral and fruity muscatel flavor. This tea is more delicate and needs a gentler brewing.
The difference when mixed with milk & sugar:-
The Assam tea has a bitter taste and a darker liqueur, and hence, tastes best with milk and sugar, Darjeeling tea on the other hand is best recommended without milk & sugar to experience the muscatel flavor it is famous for.
The difference in terms of no. of flushes/harvest seasons:-
Assam experiences mostly 2 harvest seasons, the first flush being around March – April & the second flush is approximately around May – June. Comparatively, Darjeeling has four harvest seasons, i.e., first flush – around March – April, second flush around May – June, third or Monsoon flush around September, and autumn flush around Oct – November.
The difference in terms of Price:-
Darjeeling tea is known as the champagne of teas especially due to its unique muscatel taste. It has loyal buyers across the world. Oolong tea and White tea of Darjeeling have become highly popular. The Darjeeling Tea buyers are considered as more premium buyers who are willing to spend more than the Assam tea or the other equivalents.
Both Assam and Darjeeling varieties have their own markets and demands created every year due to their uniqueness in taste, aroma, and color. There are buyers who prefer Darjeeling Tea and there are customers who want Assam Tea. These demands are created due to their individual palate and choices of teas. For example, Masala chai/milk tea preferring customers normally choose Assam tea over Darjeeling tea. Equally scoring, the Darjeeling tea lovers love the scent & flavor of the same and hence choose to buy it over others.
As for me, I personally like both.