Home to the second form of tea known to grow natively, Camellia sinensis assamica, Assam is also the world’s largest tea growing region (something like 400,000 square acres? said to equate the swath of land between New York and Chicago). Cultivation began in earnest in the 1830s and in short order, Assam had become so critical to world tea production it was actually given its own time zone (Bagantime or “Tea Garden Time”) by the British. In recent years, annual tea output from Assam has accounted for 1.5 million pounds. Like Darjeeling, Assam tea usually refers to their traditional Black tea, though in recently years production has branched out into Greens and Whites. Assam is reknown for its briskness, bright color and malty flavor. Assam teas are the “base” in CTC breakfast blends such as Irish Breakfast.