Kenyan vs. Assam?

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Kenyan vs. Assam?

Postby mbanu » Dec 23rd, '10, 14:23

Can anyone suggest some helpful guidelines for distinguishing Kenyan teas from Assam teas based on the flavor or appearance?

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Re: Kenyan vs. Assam?

Postby AlexZorach » Dec 23rd, '10, 15:24

I have not tried any "low-end" Kenyan teas, and I've tried a lot more Assam than Kenyan teas, but I notice that every Assam I've tried has had more maltiness in the aroma. While Assams can be very smooth, I find that when they are not, they seem to have a really deep tannic edge: it doesn't hit you quite at the beginning but is very present in the aftertaste. The few Kenyan teas I've tried have never had anything like this same sort of edge, and what bitterness they had was more up front, right from the first sip.

Kenyan teas, I also found to have more in common in overall characteristics with Yunnan red or Dian Hong teas. I wouldn't think of Assam and Dian Hong as having as much in common.

Take everything I am saying with a grain of salt though; it could have just been the small sample of Kenyan teas I've tried, and I've only had one recently.

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Re: Kenyan vs. Assam?

Postby ClarG » Sep 13th, '15, 23:47

It's pretty easy for me to tell the difference between a Kenyan tea, both the CTC type, and the type that's not CTC and where you can see the intact leaves, and an Assam.

An Assam is very malty, while a Kenyan tea is more unique and sort of like a Nilgiri black tea but without the citrus flavour notes.

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Re: Kenyan vs. Assam?

Postby Bok » Dec 22nd, '15, 21:21

If I am not mistaken, Kenyan tea is also from the Assam variety. Basically all teas outside of China and Japan (Taiwan too), stem from the assam plant that the British stole out of China. At that time tea alongside silk and porcelain was forbidden for foreigners.

The difference in taste comes more likely from the different terrain and manufacturing. It is an Assam all the same.

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Re: Kenyan vs. Assam?

Postby Evan Draper » Jan 6th, '16, 17:35

Not much experience with Kenyan myself, but I would say Zorach's comments are pretty solid. Assam, Yunnan, and Kenya are generally assamica, but Nilgiri and (I'm pretty sure) the East China specimens Robert Fortune brought back are generally sinensis. Apparently Kenya's experimental research station is generating a range of cultivars--see those anthocyanin-boosted "purple" teas--so take any generalization with a grain of salt. And generalized differentiations are best formulated by direct experience anyway. But to address the OP's question on a deeper level, if you are drinking the kind of tea that is putatively Assam but actually Kenyan or vice versa, "authenticity" is hardly a useful thing to worry about.

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