Other than water, tea is the most widely consumed beverage in the world (1).

Assam tea is a particular type of black tea that’s well known for its rich, malty flavor and many potential health benefits.

This article reviews Assam tea, including its health benefits, potential downsides, and preparation methods.

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Assam tea is a variety of black tea made from the leaves of the plant Camellia sinensis var. assamica. It’s traditionally grown in the northeastern Indian state of Assam, one of the largest tea-producing regions in the world(2).

Because of its naturally high caffeine content, Assam tea is frequently marketed as a breakfast tea. Many Irish and English breakfast teas use Assam or a blend that includes it.

Assam tea is often described as having a malty flavor and a rich, savory aroma. These distinct features are typically attributed to the tea’s unique production process.

After fresh Assam tea leaves are harvested and withered, they undergo an oxidation process — also referred to as fermentation — that exposes them to oxygen in a controlled-temperature environment for a designated period of time (3).

This process stimulates chemical changes in the leaves, resulting in the unique flavors, color, and plant compounds that are characteristic of Assam tea.

Summary Assam tea is a type of black tea that comes from the Indian state of Assam. Its production process gives it a distinctive flavor, color, and nutrient profile.

Research suggests that Assam tea’s rich supply of plant compounds may promote health in a number of ways.

Boasts many antioxidants

Black teas like Assam contain several unique plant compounds, including theaflavins, thearubigins, and catechins, which function as antioxidants in your body and may play a role in disease prevention (1, 4).

Your body naturally produces highly reactive chemicals called free radicals. When too many accumulate, they can damage your tissues and contribute to disease and accelerated aging (5).

The antioxidants in black tea may counteract the negative effects of free radicals, protecting cells from damage and reducing inflammation (1).

Many experts believe that these compounds give black tea its health-promoting qualities.

May promote heart health

Some animal studies suggest that polyphenolic compounds in black tea may help reduce cholesterol and prevent the buildup of plaque in blood vessels (6).

However, human studies give inconsistent results. Several show a strong association between daily intake of 3–6 cups (710–1,420 ml) of black tea and significantly reduced heart disease risk, but others indicate no association (7, 8).

Ultimately, more research is needed to understand how black teas like Assam affect heart health.

May support immune function

Early research suggests that the polyphenolic compounds in black tea may function like prebiotics in your digestive tract (9).

Prebiotics are compounds found in various foods that support the growth and maintenance of healthy bacteria in your gut (10).

A thriving community of healthy gut bacteria is an essential component of proper immune function because it fights harmful bacteria that can potentially make you sick (10).

That said, insufficient evidence exists on the link between black tea and immunity. More research is needed.

May have anticancer effects

Several test-tube and animal studies note that various black tea compounds may inhibit the growth and spread of cancer cells (11).

Additionally, a small body of research in humans has observed associations between black tea intake and a reduced risk of certain cancers, including skin and lung cancer (12).

Although this data is promising, larger, comprehensive human studies are needed to determine whether black tea can be used for cancer prevention or treatment.

May promote brain health

Early research suggests that certain compounds in black tea, such as theaflavins, may be used as a treatment or preventative therapy for degenerative brain illnesses.

One recent test-tube study revealed that black tea compounds inhibited the function of certain enzymes responsible for the progression of Alzheimer’s disease (13).

Although encouraging, this study is one of the first of its kind. More research is needed to better understand black tea’s role in supporting healthy brain function.

Summary Various compounds in black tea may play a role in preventing chronic diseases, including cancer and Alzheimer’s, as well as supporting heart and immune function.

Although Assam tea makes for a healthy beverage for most people, it may not be appropriate for everyone.

Caffeine content

Assam tea provides caffeine, which could be a detractor for anyone avoiding or limiting their intake of this stimulant.

The exact amount of caffeine in 1 cup (240 ml) of Assam tea varies depending on how long it’s steeped but is typically around 60–112 mg. For comparison, 1 cup (240 ml) of brewed coffee provides about 100–150 mg (14).

For most people, consuming up to 400 mg of caffeine per day is not associated with adverse health effects. That said, excessive intake could lead to negative symptoms, such as rapid heartbeat, anxiety, and insomnia (14).

If you’re pregnant, it’s suggested to limit caffeine consumption to no more than 200 mg per day (14).

If you’re unsure whether caffeine is appropriate for your lifestyle, talk to your medical practitioner before adding Assam tea to your routine.

Reduced iron absorption

Assam tea may reduce your absorption of iron due to its particularly high levels of tannins. These compounds give black tea its naturally bitter flavor (15).

Some research indicates that tannins bind with iron in your food, potentially rendering it unavailable for digestion. This reaction affects your absorption of plant-based iron sources much more than it does animal sources (15).

While this isn’t a major concern for most healthy individuals, it may be best for people with low iron levels to avoid black tea at meal times or with iron supplements.

Heavy metals

Tea frequently contains heavy metals, such as aluminum, although the amount present in any given tea is highly variable.

Excessive aluminum intake can contribute to bone loss and neurological damage, especially for people with kidney disease (16).

However, tea consumption is not generally associated with aluminum toxicity. It remains unclear precisely how much aluminum is absorbed when you drink tea (17).

As a precaution, it’s best to practice moderation and avoid excessive consumption of Assam tea.

Summary Assam tea has a few potential downsides. It may reduce iron absorption and increase your aluminum exposure. What’s more, some people may need to be mindful of its caffeine content.

Assam tea is very simple to make. All you need is tea, hot water, and a mug or teapot.

Plus, it’s relatively inexpensive and widely available. You can find it in tea shops, your local grocery store, or online. Make sure to choose a high-quality brand, as these usually boast a greater concentration of beneficial compounds (18).

Assam may be sold in loose-leaf form or pre-portioned tea bags. If you buy loose-leaf, you’ll want to aim for about 1 teaspoon (15 grams) of tea per 8 ounces (240 ml) of water.

First, boil water and let it cool for 10–20 seconds before pouring it over the tea. Allow it to steep for about 2 minutes, or according to the package instructions.

Take care not to over-steep, as this will produce a very bitter flavor.

For optimal health, Assam tea should be consumed without any added ingredients. If you prefer to add a bit of milk or sugar, just be careful not to spoon in too much sweetener.

Summary Assam tea is inexpensive and widely available in stores or online. To brew, steep 1 teaspoon (15 grams) of tea leaves per 8 ounces (240 ml) of hot water.

Assam tea is a popular type of black tea grown in the Indian state of Assam.

This flavorful tea boasts a rich supply of plant compounds that may boost immunity, as well as heart and brain health. That said, its caffeine content may not be appropriate for everyone.

If you’re interested in trying Assam tea, make sure to choose a high-quality product for maximum benefit.