Popular vernacularly as Red Tea, Black Tea is the ultimate caffeine boost of teas. Once upon, black tea was made to win the likes of ‘Tribute Tea’ in Wuyi, China in early 17th century.
Although, different methods of firing and rolling are adopted for premier quality black tea, the best variety consists of the earliest (Early Months) cut that is hand rolled from a whole leaf.
Black Tea Explained
Originating from China, Black Tea is a 100% oxidized tea that is best made by hand, contrary to CTC or Crush + Tear + Cut. The first of the variety of Black Tea were Keemun and Lapsong, famous for their golden-copper shade at the tips.
Hongcha or Black Tea, as it is commonly known as, is a brew from the shrub Camellia sinensis. Depending on the species of the family Camellia, the taste and flavor of the tea also differs.
What is Black Tea
Today, the Lal Cha, or as it is called in Bengali, is primarily collected from China, India, Africa and Sri Lanka.
Southwest of China is the origin of the sweetest variety of tea that tastes of chocolate. In addition, there are Yunnan Teas with golden tips and darkest malty hues as well.
Thin tea leaves with a hue of oolong, and green teas, Darjeeling tea is an Indian Black Tea known for its high elevations of growing. Grown in the Himalayas, Darjeeling Black Tea is described as floral and fruity and as ‘the Champagne of Teas’.
· Lapsang Souchong
Originating in Fujian, Lapsang Souchong is renowned for its smoky aroma of being fired with wood and smoke. This is because the tea leaves are usually smoked with spruce or pine wood, make it an herbal black tea!
Cultivated in Anhui, China, Keemun is a tea-lover’s dream brew, especially noted for its fragrance and strong flavors. The taste of Keemun has been described as being similar to wine because of its nicotine, pine or floral scent.
· Nilgiri Hills
Grown in Kerala( God’s Own Country), Tamil Nadu and Karnataka in India, Nilgiri Tea is cherished for its intense aroma. Nilgiri tea is known to have low counts of tannins and reports high astringency, which makes it an amazing decoction too.
Cultivated on a wide array of altitudes, Ceylon Tea originates in the majestic mountains of Sri Lanka. Moreover, btea is admired for its golden layering and the overwhelming fragrance.
A full bodied tea that sources from India, Assam Black Tea arises from the largest tea producers in the world. The malty type of black tea is vital to most blends and is best served with milk and sugar.
Black Tea Grades
Depending on the quality and health of the tea leaves, the tea is then, evaluated and graded.
The lowest grade of Black Tea which comprises of the powdered remnant of the tea, dust is favored mostly in Asia and Africa.
Termed as fannings, leftovers are often costlier than whole leaf teas owing to its richer flavor. Fannings are often collected from the high-quality tea buds and are even come in tea bags.
· Broken Leaf
Also sold as looseleaf tea, broke leaf grade of tea are the single or individual leaves that are separated from the buds. These are also available in tea bag variety.
· Whole Leaf
The highest grade of tea is the whole leaf tea where the leaves are handpicked and then, processed. Whole Leaf Tea amounts to 5%- 10% of the total tea collected all over the world.
· Orange Pekoe
The rarest and the most expensive grade of tea is Orange Pekoe that originates from India and Sri Lanka. The tea leaf has high chlorophyll content. Hence, an orange hue surfaces during the drying process.
Blends of Black Tea
There are countless blends of black tea in the nook and cranny of our planet. Therefore, from mixing milk and sugar to change the texture as well as the taste of ‘tea’ as it is, there are countless tea blends for you to experiment as well.
We have picked out some favorite varieties that you must checkout!
· Russian Caravan
Renowned for its smoky taste, Russian Caravan Tea blend is sourced as a mix of Keemun and Lapsang Souchoung.
· Earl Grey
A sought after tea for its healing effects and citrus scent, Earl Grey Tea is a mix of Keemun and Ceylon brew.
· English Breakfast
Best served along milk and sugar, English Breakfast is a blend of tea made majorly with Ceylon.
· Masala chai
An Indian variety of spicy tea, Masala Chai is a spicy tea brewed with pepper, cinnamon, cloves, ginger and cardamom.
· Irish Breakfast
Yet another blend of tea that is best served with sugar and milk, Irish Breakfast is best because it is made with the Assam type of tea.
What is black tea good for
Black tea gains two substances from complete oxidation-thearubigins and theaflavins. It is best known for its immediate jolt to wake-up, akin to coffee but black tea can also prevent cancer. Furthermore, black tea helps to treating ovarian, breast, lungs and colon cancers.
Furthermore, the tea is known to reduce heart problems by reducing the rate of clotting. Anti-inflammatory nature of the tea also makes it a successful weapon against coronary heart disease.
Don’t forget …
Making black tea is not as easy as making the green or Oolong tea.
First of all, leaves are picked in the months of April until June, to produce the finest quality of black tea. First, the leaves are dried in humid air and then, processed multiple times through fire and hot air. Subsequently, the resulting tea leaves end up with less than 3% moisture are segregated and rolled.
Moreover, the tea is high on caffeine as well. Hence, it is better to have a regulated dose of black teas per day!
Therefore, a harvest of 100 Kg of tea leaves produces, merely 20 Kg to 25 Kg of black tea.
In addition, Black Tea can also cure the Type II Diabetes, Nausea, Diarrhea, Obesity and Kidney Stone.