Hatibaruah, a professional tea-taster. "But not as strong, brisk and creamy as it was once," he adds, shaking his head dismissively. Rows of teacups and packs of dried leaves are lined up neatly in the well-lit tasting room.
Assam tea used to be more pungent and full-bodied and looked like tomato soup, he says, but the unwelcome transformation started 10 years ago. "Even the sheen of tealeaves is lost."
Along with waning taste, the industry is grappling with diminishing production and reduced prices. High hills and abundant rainfall made Assam state in India's northeast the largest tea-producing region in the world. Now experts say the "ideal climate" has changed - soaring temperatures and fickle rain are choking the once-flourishing plantation industry.
India produces one-third of world's tea and about 850 gardens in Assam produce 51 percent of it. Assam tea is famous for its orthodox and CTC (crush, tear, curl) variety of black teas, which are sold as breakfast teas. read more