What we call Black Tea in the West was first referred to as Red Tea in China. Black Tea is also often mistakenly referred to as “fully oxidized” tea. However, Black Tea is not one-hundred percent oxidized but around ninety percent oxidized. (Tea Oxidation Guide)
Picking and Processing:
Black Tea is made from the young leaves of the tea plant. These leaves are then either rolled by hand or mechanically in order to bruise the leaves. The bruising of the leaves releases the essential oils of the leaves, which react with the light and oxygen in the air, resulting in oxidation. Black tea is also exposed to humid and heated environments that enhance the oxidation processing of the leaves
Steps of Processing: Fresh leaves are Picked, Withered, Rolled, Oxidized, and Dried. (Tea Processing)
Mind and Body:
Because of the oxidation process the effects of the tea leaves on the mind and body change. This is why Black tea has different effects to White and Green teas, with which oxidation is carefully avoided. The oxidation of Black tea increases the levels of Xanthines and decreases the levels of Catechins. Catechins are responsible for the metabolic benefits of tea, while the Xanthines, in Black tea, is beneficial for the stimulatory effects of the Xanthine compound Caffeine. Black tea is also a great source of antioxidants. Caffeine levels of Black tea depend highly on many factors regarding the variety of the plant, time of year of picking, and more. Caffeine is also more controlled in Black tea than in coffee due to the calming effects of the tannins.
The oxidation of the tea leaves is a key contributor to the flavor of Black tea. During oxidation a category of Polyphenols in tea called Flavonoids are modified. A compound of Flavenoids called Flavanols are converted to Theaflavins and Thearubigins, which are create the dark color and rich and robust flavors of Black tea and teas. Flavonols are also considered responsible for properties of antioxidants. The most prominent flavors in Black tea are its notes of malt, sweetness, and often times dried fruit, with flowery notes as well.
Chinese Black tea is known for being the best of its kind in the world. Chinese Black teas are mostly produced in the Fujian, Yunnan, and Anhui provinces. Black tea is also known for being grown in Darjeeling-India, Taiwan, Sri Lanka, and Kenya.
Fujian Province: Three Famous teas
Bailin Gongfu is long and thin with dark leaves and fuzz. This tea is rich and refreshing with a bright aroma.
Zhenghe Gongfu is a full bodies tea with a smooth peppery flavor and aroma.
Tanyang Gongfu has a sharp aroma and mellow flavor with a yellowy liquor.
Zheng Shan Xiao Zhong, or Mount Zheng, This tea has an oaky flavor with a sweet smoky taste and toasty aroma. The liquor is a dark amber color.
Yan Xiao Zhong is known for its smokey flavors of whiskey and smokey aroma.
Jin Jun Mei, or Golden Steeped Eyebrow, is a bright black tea made with only oxidized buds. This tea has a malty, sweet honey flavor with a fruity aroma.
Jin Hou Hong Cha, or Golden Monkey, is made with mostly oxidized golden tea buds. This tea has a fruity aroma with a malty brisk flavor.
Dian Hong Gongfu, or Yunan Gold, produces a bright red liquor with a rich flavor and chocolaty aroma.
Dian Hong Jin Ya, or Pure Gold, produces an amber liquor with sweet malty flavors and fresh fruit, chocolate aroma.
Keemun Hao Ya produces a orangey liquor with a delicate and subtly chocolatey, caramel flavor.
Keemun Mao Feng has a dark dry leaves that produce a deep orange liquor and smooth flavor with chocolaty notes and an earthy, cocoa aroma.
Ri Yue Tan Hong Cha, or Sun Moon Lake, has a delicate flavor with notes of sweet osmanthus, cinnamon and peppermint.
If you’re a fan of Black tea, tell us what you’d like to try and we’ll look into sourcing it! Have a favorite flavor profile? Let us know below!
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