What is Assam Second Flush?

assam second flush black tea
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‘Assam Second Flush Tippy Golden Flowery Orange Pekoe’ may be rather a mouthful. But one sip of this superbly rich and malty brew and you might just remember the name.

Located in India, Assam is the world’s largest tea-growing region, The Brahmaputra River which runs through the areas deposits its rich silty minerals on this low lying area making this tea and in particular the 2nd flush so unique.

Assam experiences high precipitation, during the Monsoon period as much as 10 to 12 inches (250–300 mm) of rain can fall per day. The daytime temperature rises to about 103F (40 °C), creating greenhouse-like conditions of extreme humidity and heat. This tropical climate contributes to Assam’s unique malty taste, a feature for which this tea is well known.

Assam tea is generally harvested four times a year, the more popular being the “first flush” and the “second flush.” The first flush is picked during late March.

However, Assam teas really come into their own during the second harvest of the year which takes place in late spring. These ‘Second Flush’ teas are particularly prized for their full-bodied smoothness and sweet, malty taste. This much awaited tea is plucked from May through June, and is available in the markets June onward.

This year, planters in Assam are hopeful of a good second flush with perfect weather in Upper Assam. The weather conditions were good and the second flush tea was just taking shape. “The cup character of second flush will soon form if there are no more changes in the weather,” said a planter from Upper Assam.

“Everybody is excited on the coming of the second flush in Assam as this is the most crucial period in Assam and all planters take a lot of pains to make the best of it,” a planter in Jorhat said.

The second flush is followed by the summer flush (July-September) which happens post rains. The leaves are more mature by this time and the pungency and strength get reduced.

The last is the autumnal flush (October-November), which is the final harvest of the year with the leaves picked around October. The teas are delicate, with light liquor but have a distinguished taste.

Though modern-day Assam tea largely ends up as mass-market, crush-tear-curl leaf style, “probably tastes better with milk in it” kind of teas, there are high grade Assams that are worth seeking out. The leaves from the second flush of harvest are most esteemed—and a cup from the hugely productive region is a necessary point in any tea lover’s quest for a great brew.

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