|Country of origin||China|
|Region of origin||East Asia|
|Colour||Red as brewed beverage|
|Literal meaning||Red tea|
Black tea (also literally translated as red tea from various East Asian languages), is a type of tea that is more oxidized than oolong, yellow, white and green teas. Black tea is generally stronger in flavour than other teas. All five types are made from leaves of the shrub (or small tree) Camellia sinensis, though Camellia taliensis is also used rarely.
Two principal varieties of the species are used – the small-leaved Chinese variety plant (C. sinensis var. sinensis), used for most other types of teas, and the large-leaved Assamese plant (C. sinensis var. assamica), which was traditionally mainly used for black tea, although in recent years some green and white teas have been produced.
First originating in China, the beverage's name there is hong cha (Chinese: 紅茶, "red tea") due to the color of the oxidized leaves when processed appropriately. Today, the drink is widespread throughout East and Southeast Asia, both in consumption and harvesting, including in China, Japan, Korea and Singapore. Similar variants are also available in South Asian countries.
While green tea usually loses its flavour within a year, black tea retains its flavour for several years. For this reason, it has long been an article of trade, and compressed bricks of black tea even served as a form of de facto currency in Mongolia, Tibet and Siberia well into the 19th century.
Generally, unblended black teas are named after the region in which they are produced. Often, different regions are known for producing teas with characteristic flavours.
|Tǎnyáng-gōngfu (坦洋工夫)||Tanyang Village, Fu'an, Fujian Province||The king of the Fujian Artisan Black Teas. One of the three Famous Fujian Reds.|
|Zhènghé-gōngfu (政和工夫)||Zhenghe County, Fujian Province||One of the three Famous Fujian Reds, with a slight honey flavour.|
|Báilín-gōngfu (白琳工夫)||Bailin Town, Fuding, Fujian Province||One of the three Famous Fujian Reds.|
|Lapsang souchong||Zhèngshān-xiǎozhǒng (正山小中種)||Wuyi Mountains, Fujian Province||Dried over burning pine, thereby developing a strong smoky flavour.|
|Yínjùnméi (銀駿眉)||A higher grade version of Zhengshan xiaozhong (aka. Lapsang Souchong)|
|Jīnjùnméi (金駿眉)||One of the highest grade black teas in mainland China.|
|Keemun||Qímén-hóngchá (祁門紅茶)||Qimen County, Anhui Province||One of China's Famous Teas. The aroma of tea is fruity, with hints of pine, dried plum and floweriness.|
|Dianhong (Yunnan)||Yúnnán-hóngchá (雲南紅茶) / diānhóng (滇紅)||Yunnan Province||Well known for dark malty teas and golden bud teas.|
|Yingdehong||Yīngdé-hóngchá (英德紅茶)||Yingde, Guangdong Province||The tea has a cocoa-like aroma and a sweet aftertaste, one can find a peppery note.|
|Jiu Qu Hong Mei (Nine Winding Red Plum)||Jiǔqǔ-hóngméi (九曲紅梅)||Hangzhou, Zhejiang Province||This tea is characterised by tight fishhook-like leaves with a lustrous black color. The infusion is brightly reddish and has a long smooth aftertaste.|
|Taiwan||Sun Moon Lake||Rìyuè-tán-hóngchá (日月潭紅茶)||Sun Moon Lake, Nantou City, Nantou County||Honey rich tones, sweet osmanthus, cinnamon and peppermint.|
|India||Assam||Ôxôm cah (অসম চাহ)||Assam State||Full bodied, strong and distinctively malty tea from the lowlands of Assam.|
|Darjeeling||Dārjiliṁ cā (দার্জিলিং চা)||West Bengal State||Thin bodied, floral and fruity tea from Darjeeling with defining muscatel tones. Today often processed as a mixture of black, green and oolong elements, though still classed as black.|
|Kangra||Kāngada cāy (कांगड़ा चाय)||Kangra District, Himachal Pradesh State||It produces basil-cinnamon, java plum-blueberry blends and Chinese hybrids that is varied with others as a pale liquor, it has a subtle pungency with a vegetal aroma.|
|Munnar||Mūnnār cāya (മൂന്നാർ ചായ)||Munnar Town, Idukki District, Kerala State||This variety produces a strong bodied golden yellow liquor with refreshing briskness and a hint of fruit. It has a medium toned fragrance, that is akin to malted biscuits.|
|Nilgiri||Nīlakiri tēnīr (நீலகிரி தேநீர்)||Nilgiris District, Tamil Nadu State||Intensely aromatic, strong, and fragrant tea from the Nilgiri Hills of Karnataka, Kerala and Tamil Nadu.|
|Korea||Jaekseol (Bird's tongue)||jaekseol-cha (작설차)||Hadong County, South Gyeongsang Province||Jaekseol tea is golden, light scarlet in color and has a sweet, clean taste.|
|Nepal||Nepali||Nēpālī ciyā (नेपाली चिया)||Similar to Darjeeling tea in its appearance, aroma and fruity taste, with subtle variation.|
|Sri Lanka||Ceylon||Silōn tē (සිලෝන් තේ)||It is grown on numerous estates which vary in altitude and taste. High-grown tea is honey golden liquor and light and is considered to be among the best teas in terms of its distinct flavour, aroma, and strength. Low-grown teas are a burgundy brown liquor and stronger. Mid-grown teas are strong, rich and full-bodied.|
|Turkey||Rize||Rize çayı||Rize, Rize Province, Black Sea Region||Characterised by its strong taste, when brewed it is mahogany in color. Traditionally served with beet sugar crystals.|
|Iran||Lahijan||Chaie||Lahijan, Gilan Province, Caspian Sea (south)||Characterised by its strong taste and nice aroma, semi-long brewing time about 10–15 minutes, when brewed it is dark red in colour. Traditionally served with beet sugar crystals.|
Main article: Tea blending and additives
Many finished black teas consist of blends of various varieties of black tea. In addition, black tea is often blended with various other plants or flavourings in order to obtain a beverage.
|Earl Grey tea||Black tea with bergamot oil.|
|Lady Grey tea||Black tea with bergamot oil, lemon peel, orange peel and sometimes cornflower petals. Since Lady Grey is a registered trademark of the company Twinings, other brands have used similar names such as Madame Grey, Duchess Grey or Empress Grey.|
|English breakfast tea||Full-bodied, robust, rich and blended to go well with milk and sugar.|
|English afternoon tea||Medium bodied, bright and refreshing. Strong Assam and Kenyan teas are blended with Ceylon which adds a light, brisk quality to the blend.|
|Irish breakfast tea||Blend of several black teas: most often Assam teas and, less often, other types of black tea.|
|Masala chai Indian (South Asian) spiced tea||Combines black tea, spices native to the Indian sub-continent, milk, and a sweetener such as sugar or honey; a beverage from India, possibly consumed for many centuries in the ancient kingdoms of the region before the arrival of the Europeans. Though the possibility of a pre-colonial tea culture still remains disputed, one can argue without any doubt that the post-independence Masala chai has played a significant role in India's modern tea consumption culture, making it the largest tea consumer in the world.
Masala chai has been widely recognised and adapted in the West by locals to their liking since its introduction by the British East India company, with changes in ingredients and the method of preparation to better suit western consumers.
See also: Tea processing
The tea is then ready for packaging.
Main article: Tea leaf grading
See also: Food grading
Black tea is usually graded on one of four scales of quality. Whole-leaf teas are the highest quality, with the best whole-leaf teas graded as "orange pekoe". After the whole-leaf teas, the scale degrades to broken leaves, fannings, then dusts. Whole-leaf teas are produced with little or no alteration to the tea leaf. This results in a finished product with a coarser texture than that of bagged teas. Whole-leaf teas are widely considered the most valuable, especially if they contain leaf tips. Broken leaves are commonly sold as medium-grade loose teas.
Smaller broken varieties may be included in tea bags. Fannings are usually small particles of tea left over from the production of larger tea varieties, but are occasionally manufactured specifically for use in bagged teas. Dusts are the finest particles of tea left over from production of the above varieties, and are often used for tea bags with very fast and harsh brews. Fannings and dusts are useful in bagged teas because the greater surface area of the many particles allows for a fast, complete diffusion of the tea into the water. Fannings and dusts usually have a darker colour, lack of sweetness, and stronger flavour when brewed.
Generally, one uses .08 ounces (2.26 g) of tea per 8 US fl oz (237 ml) of water. Unlike green teas, which turn bitter when brewed at higher temperatures, black tea should be steeped in water brought up to 212 °F (100 °C) for 3–5 min. However, this can vary widely by custom or taste as in another "generic" version of the same can be the same amount of tea per 12 US fl oz (355 ml) or 50% more dilute.
Whole-leaf black teas, and black teas to be served with milk or lemon, should be steeped four to five minutes. The more delicate black teas, such as Darjeeling, should be steeped for three to four minutes. The same holds for broken leaf teas, which have more surface area and need less brewing time than whole leaves. Longer steeping times makes the tea bitter (at this point, it is referred to as being "stewed" in the UK). When the tea has brewed long enough to suit the drinker's taste, it should be strained before it is served.
A cold vessel lowers the steep temperature; to avoid this, always rinse the vessel with ≥90 °C (≥194 °F) water before brewing.
Alternatively, the first brew should be 60 sec., the second brew 40 sec., and the third brew 60 sec. If the tea is of high quality, it may be brewed several times by progressively adding 10 sec. to the brew time following the third infusion (note: when using a larger tea pot the ratio of tea to water will need to be adjusted to achieve similar results).
The ISO Standard 3103 defines how to brew tea for tasting. "This standard is not meant to define the proper method for brewing tea intended for general consumption, but rather to document a tea brewing procedure where meaningful sensory comparisons can be made." This mix is thus more than twice as concentrated for normal consumption.
Main article: Health effects of tea
Plain black tea without sweeteners or additives contains caffeine, but negligible quantities of calories or nutrients. Black teas from Camellia sinensis contain polyphenols, such as flavonoids, which are under preliminary research for their potential to affect blood pressure and blood lipids as risk factors for cardiovascular disease, but overall this research remains inconclusive.
Long-term consumption of black tea only slightly lowered systolic and diastolic blood pressures (about 1–2 mmHg). Black tea consumption may be associated with a reduced risk of stroke, but there is only limited research to evaluate this possibility.
Meta-analyses of observational studies concluded that black tea consumption does not affect the development of oral cancers in Asian or Caucasian populations, esophageal cancer or prostate cancer in Asian populations, or lung cancer.
The visible film often formed on black tea consists of oxidized polyphenols and calcium carbonate, and is therefore more pronounced for tea brewed with hard water.