When folks discuss usually of tea in Western tradition, they’re usually referring to black tea. Solar tea, candy tea, iced tea, afternoon tea these well-known classes of tea are sometimes made utilizing black tea. Even the favored English Breakfast and Earl Gray blends are constituted of black tea leaves.
That is in distinction to Jap tradition—in nations like China and Japan—the place tea sometimes refers to inexperienced tea. So what’s the distinction between black and inexperienced tea? And the way did black tea grow to be so common within the West?
Black tea origins
Tea is taken into account to have originated in China. However it’s the fragile, fresh-tasting inexperienced tea that grew to become common in Jap society and remains to be the bottom of tea tradition there immediately. As tea tradition unfold and tea was processed for export to commerce past areas, neighboring nations and ultimately throughout oceans, it was found that the extra oxidized black tea would retain its freshness and taste higher over lengthy journeys than its minimally oxidized inexperienced tea cousin. Within the earliest days of border commerce between China, Tibet and different neighboring nations, tea was fermented, dried and pressed into bricks for use as forex. To at the present time, a lot of the black tea produced in China is exported in a foreign country.
The Dutch first introduced tea to Europe in 1610, it arrived in England in 1658, after which it rose in reputation in England’s American colonies all through the 1700s. Demand for tea skilled enormous leaps within the 1700s as England expanded sugar imports from its Caribbean colonies. By 1800, the English have been yearly consuming 2½ kilos of tea and 17 kilos of sugar per capita. Some declare it was the rising development of including sugar to tea that spiked the demand for robust black tea over the extra delicate inexperienced tea imports.
The subsequent leap in black tea manufacturing got here within the 1800s when the Camellia sinensis assamica tea plant selection was found in 1823 within the Assam area of India. This native selection was significantly better suited to the manufacturing of the hearty, daring black teas that have been in excessive demand. Not lengthy after, in 1835, the English began planting tea gardens in India’s Darjeeling area, close to Nepal. Since India was a British colony, these completely different sorts of black teas rapidly grew to become common exports to England.
Black tea processing
To know what makes black tea black and inexperienced tea inexperienced, it’s necessary to know that every one tea originates from the identical precise plant—Camellia sinensis. It’s the number of tea plant and the way the plant’s leaves are processed that outline if a tea turns into black or inexperienced.
BLACK TEA VARIETIES
Camellia sinensis assamica is a larger-leafed varietal of the tea plant that’s sometimes used to provide black tea. Originating within the Assam district of India, it grows in heat, moist climates and is prolific in sub-tropical forests.
Camellia sinensis sinensis is a smaller-leafed selection native to China that’s sometimes used to make inexperienced and white teas. It developed as a shrub rising in sunny areas with drier, cooler climates. It thrives in mountainous areas as a result of it has a excessive tolerance for chilly.
Lots of of cultivars and hybrid crops have developed from these Camellia sinensis plant varieties over time. However technically any sort of tea—white, inexperienced, yellow, oolong, black or pu-erh—might be constituted of the leaves of any Camellia sinensis plant.
What makes black tea completely different from inexperienced tea is that in the course of the manufacturing course of, the tea leaves are allowed to totally oxidize earlier than they’re heat-processed and dried. Throughout oxidation, oxygen interacts with the tea plant’s cell partitions to show the leaves the wealthy darkish brown to black colour that black tea leaves are well-known for. Oxidation alters the flavour profile of a black tea as effectively, serving to add malty, fruity and even smoky notes, relying on the tea.
Against this, when inexperienced tea leaves are processed, they’re minimally oxidized. After being harvested, they’re rapidly heated and dried to stop an excessive amount of oxidation from occurring that might flip the inexperienced leaves brown and alter their fresh-picked taste. Much less oxidation means a inexperienced tea is often lighter in colour and taste than black tea, with extra vegetal, grassy or seaweed notes, relying on the tea.
Black teas are sometimes produced utilizing one in all two strategies:
- Orthodox: On this extra time-consuming methodology of manufacturing, tea leaves stay complete or solely partially damaged throughout processing. Tea leaves are plucked from the backyard, withered to scale back moisture, rolled in quite a lot of methods to bruise the leaves and begin oxidation, oxidized to create colour and taste, fired to use the warmth that stops oxidation, after which graded for high quality.
- Non-Orthodox or CTC (Crush-Tear-Curl): On this sped-up model of the manufacturing course of, the tea leaves are lower into high quality items as an alternative of rolled. The smaller items of leaves are extra rapidly oxidized, producing a one-dimensional, constant, robust and daring black tea. The lower items additionally simply match into business tea baggage, that are extra common with finish shoppers than free leaf tea.
Black Tea Processing (Orthodox): Withering → 1st Rolling → Oxidizing/Fermenting → Drying (110°C/65°C)
Black Tea Processing (Non-Orthodox/CTC): Withering → Chopping/Tearing/Curling → Oxidizing/Fermenting → Drying (130°C/90°C)
Our black tea is rolled instantly after withering to assist get the oxidation processes began rapidly. The leaves are then absolutely oxidized earlier than they’re dried, which is how they get their darkish colour and wealthy taste.