WHAT IS BLACK TEA

People often refer to black tea when they talk about tea in Western culture. These well-known types of tea include sweet and savory teas and iced and iced teas. Black tea leaves make popular blends like Earl Grey and English Breakfast.

This contrasts with Eastern culture, which is found in countries such as China and Japan, where tea is often referred to as green tea. What is the difference between green and black tea? How did black tea become so beloved in the West?

Origins of black tea

China is believed to be the origin of tea. The delicate, mild-tasting green tea became the most popular in Eastern societies and remains the basis of tea culture today. Tea culture developed, and tea was exported to other countries and across the oceans. It was found that more oxidized teas retain their freshness and taste better than less oxidized teas. Tea was first fermented, dried, and then pressed into bricks for use as currency in the early days of trade between China, Tibet, and other neighboring countries. Almost all of China’s black tea is exported to this day.

Tea was first introduced to Europe by the Dutch in 1610. It arrived in England in 1658. Tea gained popularity in America’s colonies in England during the 1700s. As England increased sugar imports from the Caribbean colonies, tea demand soared. In 1800, the English consumed 2 1/2 lbs of tea per year and 17 lbs of sugar per person. Some believe the rising popularity of tea with sugar drove the increase in demand for black teas over delicate green teas.

In the 1800s, the Camellia Sinensis Assamica black tea plant variety was discovered. It was found in India’s Assam region in 1823. This native variety was better suited for producing strong, rich black teas in high demand. In 1835, the English began planting tea gardens in India’s Darjeeling, near Nepal, shortly after. These teas were quickly exported to England because India was a British colony.

Processing black tea

It’s important to understand that all teas originate from the same plant, Camellia Sinensis. The tea’s color is determined by the tea’s origin and the way the leaves are processed.

BLACK TEA RANIES

Camellia sinensis is a larger-leafed variety of tea plants. It is used primarily to make black tea. It is native to India’s Assam district. It thrives in humid, warm climates and is prolific within sub-tropical forests.

Camellia sinensis, a smaller-leafed native to China, is used to make green or white teas. It was initially a shrub that grew in sunny areas with more relaxed, drier climates. Because it is susceptible to cold, it thrives in mountainous areas.

These Camellia Sinensis varieties have been the basis of hundreds of hybrid and cultivar plants. However, any type of tea, including white, green, yellow, oolong, and black, can be made from any Camellia Sinensis leaf.

OXIDATION

Black tea is different from green tea because the tea leaves are allowed time to oxidize before being heated and dried. Oxidation is when oxygen reacts with the cell walls of the tea plant to give the leaves their rich, dark brown-black color. The flavor profile of black teas can be altered by oxidation, which may add fruity, malty, or even smoky flavors, depending on what type of tea you choose.

Green tea leaves, on the other hand, are not oxidized when they are processed. They are then quickly heated and dried after being harvested to avoid any oxidation that could turn the green tea leaves brown or alter their fresh-picked flavor. Green teas with less oxidation are typically lighter than black teas. Depending on their variety, they have more vegetal, grassy, or seaweed flavors.

PROCESSING

Two methods are used to make black teas:

  • Orthodox: Tea leaves are preserved in their original form and remain intact or partially broken after processing. This is a more laborious method of tea production. Tea leaves are taken from the garden and dried to reduce moisture. They then undergo several processing steps to make the leaves more oxidized. The leaves are then oxidized to create flavor and color and are sorted for quality.
  • Non-Orthodox (CTC): Tea leaves are cut into fine pieces in this faster production process. These smaller leaves are more easily oxidized and produce a consistent, one-dimensional, strong, bold black tea. These cut pieces can also be easily inserted into tea bags which are more popular than loose-leaf tea.

Black Tea Processing (Orthodox): Withering 1st Rolling Oxidizing/Fermenting Drying (110degC/65degC).

Black Tea Processing (Non-Orthodox/CTC): Withering  Cutting/Tearing/Curling  Oxidizing/Fermenting  Drying (130degC/90degC)

To speed up the oxidation process, our black tea is rolled right after it has been withered. This is how the leaves get their rich color and dark flavor.

Different types of black tea

There are many places where black tea can be grown in different climates and geographies. Africa, Sri Lanka, and India are today’s three largest black tea producers. India is home to half the world’s tea production. These top-producing countries produce some of the most popular black teas:

ASSAM:

India’s Assam region hosts the largest tea-growing area in the world. This tea is grown in a rainy tropical climate and has solid and malty qualities that can be assimilated with milk or sugar.

DARJEELING:

Darjeeling is a tea grown in a small, mountainous region of India. It’s a soft, herbaceous black tea that can be adjusted to the changing seasons by changing climate conditions. Chai, India’s most popular spiced tea, is often made from Darjeeling.

CEYLON:

Sri Lanka’s tea gardens, which cover over half a billion acres, constitute a significant part of its economy. They can be found in various locations, from tropical and cool to mountainous. Ceylon, the most popular tea export from Sri Lanka, is Ceylon. Although Ceylon teas may vary depending on their region, they are known for being solid and brisk with a touch of spice. Sri Lanka is also well-known for its cinnamon production.

KENYAN:

Kenya was late to tea production in the early 1900s. However, Kenya has learned quickly and is now the leader of the CTC tea production process. Kenya produces and exports a lot of black tea. Kenyan tea is well-known for its robust and full-bodied flavor.

Although not the most prolific tea region in the world, Tetulia (r) is the home of a USDA-certified organic tea farm. Our tea garden covers nearly 2,000 acres and is proud to be the largest in its class. The Camellia sinensis andsamica tea variety is grown using natural farming methods that do not harm the environment. We use the traditional way of processing our black tea. This ensures that the fully oxidized leaves remain intact and produce a sweet, fresh liquor with honey and apricot notes. 

Enjoy black tea

The Western palate is used to strong black teas that are strong enough to withstand sweeteners, cream, and lots of ice. For a long time, quality and variety in black tea were not something West considered to be necessary. It was essential to mass-produce tea to satisfy the growing demand. However, consumers are learning more about tea and the importance of loose-leaf teas. Variety, freshness, and flavor are essential when choosing the proper black tea.

You should remember that different black teas have different tastes. Like a fine wine, each black tea has its unique flavor profile. This includes where it was grown and if it was near other crops (e.g., Rose bushes and coffee plants, climate, fertilizer used, how long it was allowed to oxidize, heat treatment, packaging, and whether it was left whole or chopped into smaller pieces (non-orthodox).

Black tea is generally more robust, richer, and bolder than green tea. The color of brewed black tea will vary from amber to dark brown to deep red, and the flavor profile may range from sweet to savory, depending on how it was heated. Although black tea is more bitter than green tea, it can still be flavorful if brewed correctly.

The flavor profile for black tea is described by shared characteristics such as malty and smoky.

The caffeine content in black tea

Coffee, black tea, and green tea have the highest caffeine levels. Green tea is next. However, as with any caffeinated beverage, many factors influence the caffeine content of your cup of black tea. These include how the tea was made and the processing of the plant. These are the most common guidelines for caffeine content:

8 oz.                                Avg. Caffeine Content

Green Tea                        24-40 mg

Black Tea                         14 to 61 mg

Brewed coffee                 95 to 200 mg

Black tea storage and buying

You want to ensure that you get the best black tea possible, so make sure you buy it from a trusted company that can tell how and when it was made.

Although it will not go “bad”, tea can become stale if left unattended for too long. Oxidized black tea’s shelf life is longer than its delicate green tea counterpart. Black teas can be stored in cool and dark places, away from moisture, light and pantry items such as coffee and spices, which can cause the flavor to evaporate.

How to make black tea

Ask your tea vendor for the brewing instructions specifics to your black tea. Different black teas require different brewing temperatures and steeping times. These are some general tips for brewing black tea.

  • Use cold, filtered, fresh water. Spring water is the best.
  • Black teas are brewed at higher temperatures and longer than green teas. This is generally between 200 to 212 degrees for three to five minutes.
  • An electric kettle without temperature control is not necessary. At sea level, water boils at 218 degrees. For every 100 feet of elevation, the boiling temperature drops by about 1 degree. You should aim for a boiling point of about 125 feet for black tea.
  • Use the instructions for brewing black tea that came with it. For 8 ounces of tea, you should use 2 grams of loose-leaf tea. A cup of water is safe.
  • To keep the heat in your steeping vessel, cover the tea.
  • Don’t oversteep your tea! Tea steeped for too long will quickly release bitterness and astringency. After the recommended steeping time, taste your tea and decide if it should be soaked for extended periods.
  • Many high-quality loose-leaf teas can be steeped more than once.
  • Black teas can withstand sugar and milk, but most are strong enough. To truly appreciate the subtle flavors of the various black teas, you should try drinking them unflavored.
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Black Tea

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