Assam tea has a long history, with its origins steeped in mystery. What we do know is that some 200 years ago, an adventurous Scot named Robert Bruce managed to haggle a few plants and seeds from a local tribe chieftain. Those seeds were for the delicious brew that the natives drank around their campfires. Bruce used those seeds to start a small tea garden in the Assam region of India. In the years that followed, that region blossomed onto the world stage and Assam has become a global icon in the tea industry.
Let’s take a look at one of the world’s foremost Golden Assam gardens, one with which Avantcha is proud to maintain a longstanding partnership.
Mangalam Estate: A Modern Perspective
Many connoisseurs will tell you that the best teas from the oldest gardens, where technology is a faux-pas and history is everything. That, simply put, is a bit off the mark. Many of the oldest tea gardens now use modern technologies to remain self-sustaining, or to optimise the production process. Mangalam Estate is no exception.
Founded only 44 years ago in the early seventies, it is something of an infant compared to the gardens, which have stood for hundreds or thousands of years. However, it quickly established itself as one of the pioneers of modern tea planting and cultivation, with its gorgeous black and golden Assam fetching interest from around the globe.
Something unique about Mangalam is the way they have optimised their entire estate for maximum yield. The owners did extensive testing on various planting techniques, and settled on implementing a novel strategy of close spacing. It’s hard to argue with the results. They have the largest yield per hectare in their district, which is quite an achievement when you consider the sublime quality of the tea itself.
There are other examples, but this is a fine demonstration of how modern techniques not only let new gardens compete with the traditional ones, but in some cases outdo them entirely! At Avantcha, we are all about combining luxury with practicality, and with none of our brands does this ethos resonate like Mangalam Estate.
A Perfect Growing Environment
For fair-weather enthusiasts, the Assam region of India is like a bad dream: there is an awful lot of rain. Around 80-120 inches per year. The monsoon season runs from July to September and allows the local rivers to overflow and provide fresh new topsoil for planting. Combined with the humidity, warmth and low-wind climate, it is a perfect environment for tea growth.
Among Assam lovers, 1st flush is a damn fine tea, but 2nd flush is the runaway favourite. It is a famously “tippy” tea, referring to their unique colour. These are young teas which have been exposed to the elements (namely the rain) for a shorter time than other picks. As a result, the tips are fairly dry and retain a gorgeous, light gold colouring. Proper golden Assam is the most highly coveted and highest quality tea in the region, with many estates unable to even produce it. One of India’s finest tea gardens, the Mangalam Estate, however, specializes in this delicate, well-balance gem.
The Experience of Drinking Golden Assam
The golden, tippy leaves provide a luxurious, burgundy-red brew, which is a delight to look at. The hue may vary a little depending on your preferences, but it will always be rich and appealing. It’s black tea with a mild, yet pleasant, astringency so one should add milk or sugar to their own tastes. The taste is a little nutty and spicy, for a well-tuned palate, with an aroma of roasted grain making it a pleasure for all the senses.
Of course, the drinking experience is unique to each person. Our tastes and expectations vary hugely, so the key to finding your perfect cup is experimentation. Be careful about over-brewing your golden Assam, as they can become quite bitter if left stewing too long. If it helps, sometimes it’s worth noting down what steps you took to prepare the tea and how it tasted; once you find the perfect recipe, you can stick to it!
One Eye on the Future
Mangalam is already considered an exceptional estate: they have dived headfirst into an ancient market, changing the rules on planting and cultivation, and have come out on top. They are one of the most successful gardens in Assam and the reason is simple: they always deliver. Each cup of Golden Assam from Mangalam may vary slightly from the next, but the core properties are always there. Embrace your unique cup of well-balanced, rich Golden Assam and know that it will always hit the spot.
Golden Assam Mangalam available in 50g re-sealable Pouch (loose tea) or Bio-degradable Silk Teabags.