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Namaste, Assam!

We recently went to India to visit some of our tea suppliers in Assam and Darjeeling and we wanted to send a brief update from the road.

Assam is a region in eastern India. The teas from this region provide the strong, brisk and malty flavor in our Tazo® Awake™ tea and the spicy masala flavor of Tazo® Chai Tea Latte.

The minute you get off the airplane in Dibrugarh, you are hit with the hot, humid temperatures of the region. The combination of terroir and hot, humid weather unite to create the Assam tea flavor we are so familiar with.

Our weeklong trip to Assam took us to the tea estates of Zaloni, Tippuk, Maud, Hapjan, Khobong and a handful of others. Our goal was to audit these tea factories against HACCP principles to ensure we receive safe, high-quality tea. Our first day in Assam was on the back end of a hot, dry spell the region was experiencing. This was far different from last year’s constant monsoonal rain, which cut heavily into 2010’s tea production. After we did a little rain dance (which was unfortunately not recorded on video), the showers started and seemed to put a smile on the tea estate manager’s faces. The tea bushes were just beginning to get stressed with the dry, hot weather – but the rains will present a plentiful future supply of tea.

The Assam region is in the quality second flush period, a time frame when Tazo purchases most of its teas. All teas in Assam are hand-plucked, and on our first morning at the Deohall estate, we were able to walk amongst the tea pluckers working close to the bungalow. One member of our group tried his hand at plucking tea, but it was hard to compete with the quick snap of the wrist demonstrated by an experienced plucker.

The last part of our trip involved contracting our containers of Assam and Darjeeling teas to arrive at Tazo later this summer and fall. In between business meetings, we tasted many fine cups of tea. So I’d encourage you to likewise brew a cup, close your eyes, smell the aroma, take a quick sip and imagine the dedication and hard work that goes into each tea leaf used to make your beverage.

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