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Black tea

Black Tea Tea Plantation in Java, Indonesia

Black tea / Tea plantation in Java, Indonesia.

Black tea is a type of tea that is more oxidized than oolong, green and white teas. All four types are made from leaves of the shrub (or small tree) Camellia sinensis. Black tea is generally stronger in flavour than the less oxidized teas. Two principal varieties of the species are used – the small-leaved Chinese variety plant (C. sinensis subsp. sinensis), used for most other types of teas, and the large-leaved Assamese plant (C. sinensis subsp. assamica), which was traditionally mainly used for black tea, although in recent years some green and white have been produced.

In Chinese languages and the languages of neighbouring countries, black tea is known as red tea (Mandarin Chinese hóngchá; Japanese kōcha; Korean hongcha), a description of the colour of the liquid; the Western term black tea refers to the colour of the oxidized leaves. In Chinese, black tea is a commonly-used classification for post-fermented teas, such as Pu-erh tea; outside of China and its neighbouring countries; red tea more commonly refers to rooibos, a South African tisane.

While green tea usually loses its flavor 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 into the 19th century.[1] Although green tea has recently seen a revival due to its purported health benefits, black tea still accounts for over ninety percent of all tea sold in the West.

Varieties

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.

Tea

English

Origin

Source region

Source country

Description

 

Tanyang Gongfu

 

Tanyang

Fujian Province

China

The king of the Fujian Artisan Red Teas. One of the three Famous Fujian Reds.

 

Zhenghe Gongfu

 

Zhenghe

Fujian Province

One of the three Famous Fujian Reds, with a slight honey flavour.

 

Bailin Gongfu

 

Bailin

Fujian Province

One of the three Famous Fujian Reds.

 

Zhengshan xiaozhong (Lapsang souchong)

 

Mount Wuyi

Fujian Province

Dried over burning pine, thereby developing a strong smoky flavour.

 
 

Yin Junmei

Silver Steed Eyebrow

Mount Wuyi

Fujian Province

A higher grade version of Zhengshan xiaozhong (aka. Lapsang Souchong)

 

Jin Junmei

Golden Steed Eyebrow

Mount Wuyi

Fujian Province

One of the highest grade red teas in mainland China.

 

Keemun

 

Qimen

Anhui Province

One of China's Famous Teas. The aroma of tea is fruity, with hints of pine, dried plum and floweriness.

 

Dian Hong

   

Yunnan Province

Well known for dark malty teas and golden bud teas.

 

Ying De Hong

   

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

Hu Fou district

Zhejiang Province

This tea is characterised by tight fishhook-like leaves with a lustrous black colour. The infusion is brightly reddish and has a long smooth aftertaste.

 

Sun Moon Lake

 

Sun Moon Lake

Taiwan

Honey rich tones, sweet osmanthus, cinnamon and peppermint.

 

Tibeti

 

Ya'an

Sichuan Province

 

A unique tea that can also be called brick tea; it is has been known as Tibetan tea for centuries.

 

Assam

 

Assam

India

Full bodied, strong and distinctively malty tea from the lowlands of Assam. It is the highest produced tea in the world.

 

Darjeeling

West Bengal

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. Many consider it to be the best black tea in the world, because of its unique spice.

 

Munnar

Kerala

 

 

Kangra

Himachal Pradesh

 

Nilgiri

Tamil Nadu

Intensely aromatic, strong, and fragrant tea from the Nilgiri Hills of Karnataka, Kerala and Tamil Nadu.

 

Ceylon

 

Sri Lanka

It is grown on numerous estates which vary in altitude and taste. High-grown tea is honey golden liquor and light. Low-grown teas are a burgundy brown liquor and stronger. Mid-grown teas are strong, rich and full-bodied.

 

Blends

Black tea is often blended and mixed with various other plants in order to obtain a beverage.

Blend

Description

Earl Grey

Black tea with bergamot oil.

English Breakfast

Full-bodied, robust, and/or 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

Blend of several black teas: most often Assam teas and, less often, other types of black tea.

Masala chai

Combines black tea, spices, milk, and a sweetener such as sugar or honey; a traditional beverage from India which has been adapted in the West with changes to the method of preparation.

In the United States, citrus fruits such as orange or lemon, or their respective rinds, are often used to create flavoured black teas, sometimes in conjunction with spices (such as cinnamon). These products can be easily confused with citrus-based herbal teas, but the herbal products will generally be labelled as having no caffeine; whereas, the tea-based products do contain caffeine.

Manufacture

  1. After the harvest, the leaves are first withered by blowing air on them.
  2. Then black teas are processed in either of two ways, CTC (Crush, Tear, Curl) or orthodox. The CTC method produces leaves of fannings or dust grades that are commonly used in tea bags and are processed by machines. This method is efficient and effective for producing a better quality product from medium and lower quality leaves of consistently dark colour. Orthodox processing is done either by machines or by hand. Hand processing is used for high quality teas. While the methods employed in orthodox processing differ by tea type, this style of processing results in the high quality loose tea sought by many connoisseurs. The tea leaves are allowed to completely oxidize.
    • Orthodox: The withered tea leaves are heavily rolled either by hand or mechanically through the use of a cylindrical rolling table or a rotovane. The rolling table consists of a ridged table-top moving in an eccentric manner to a large hopper of tea leaves, of which the leaves are pressed down onto the table-top. The process produces a mixture of whole and broken leaves, and particles which are then sorted, oxidized, and dried. The rotorvane (rotovane), created by Ian McTear in 1957 can be used to replicate the orthodox process.[4] The rotovane consisted on an auger pushing withered tea leaves through a vane cylinder which crushes and evenly cuts the leaves, however the process is more recently superseded by the boruah continuous roller, which consists of a oscillating conical roller around the inside a ridged cylinder. The rotorvane can consistently duplicate broken orthodox processed black tea of even sized broken leaves, however it cannot produce whole leaf black tea. The broken leaves and particles from the orthodox method can feed into the CTC method for further processing into fanning or dust grade teas.
    • CTC: Cut, tear, curl or Crush, tear, curl black teas is a production method developed by William McKercher in 1930. It is consider by some as a significantly improved method of producing black tea to the orthodox through the mincing of wither tea leaves. The use of a rotovane to pre-cut the withered tea is a common pre-processing method prior to feeding into the CTC [4] CTC machines then further shred the leaves from the rotavane by processing them through several series of contra-rotation rotors with surfaces patterning that cut and tear the leaves to very fine particles.
  3. Next, the leaves are oxidized under controlled temperature and humidity. (This process is also called fermentation , which is a misnomer since no actual fermentation takes place.) The level of oxidation determines the quality of the tea. This can be done on the floor in batches or an a conveyor bed with air flow for proper oxidation and temperature control. Since oxidation begins at the rolling stage itself, the time between these stages is also a crucial factor in the quality of the tea however fast processing of the tea leaves through continuous methods can effectively make this a separate step.
  4. Then the leaves are dried to arrest the oxidation process.
  5. Finally, the leaves are sorted into grades according to their sizes (whole leaf, brokens, fannings and dust), usually with the use of sieves. The tea could be further sub-graded according to other criteria.

The tea is then ready for packaging.

Tea grading

Tea Grading

 

Black tea grading

Fresh tea leaves of different sizes.

Fresh tea leaves of different sizes.

Orange pekoe

Black tea is usually graded on one of four scales of quality. Whole leaf teas are highest quality followed by broken leaves, fannings, and 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, very harsh brews. Fannings and dust 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 flavours when brewed.

Brewing

Generally, 2.25 grams of tea per 180 ml of water, or about a teaspoon of black tea per 6 oz. cup, should be used. Unlike green teas, which turn bitter when brewed at higher temperatures, black tea should be steeped in freshly boiled water. The more delicate black teas, such as Darjeeling, should be steeped for 3 to 4 minutes. The same holds for broken leaf teas, which have more surface area and need less brewing time than whole leaves. Whole leaf black teas, and black teas that will be served with milk or lemon, should be steeped 4 to 5 minutes. Longer steeping times make the tea bitter (at this point, in the UK it is referred to as being stewed ). When the tea has brewed long enough to suit the tastes of the drinker, it should be strained while serving.

The ISO Standard 3103 defines how to brew tea for tasting.

Health and nutrition

Health effects of tea

Plain black tea without sweeteners or additives contains negligible quantities of calories, protein, sodium, and fat. Some flavoured tea with different herbs added may have less than 1 gram of carbohydrates. All teas from the camellia tea plant are rich in polyphenols, which are a type of antioxidant.

Benefits

A 2001 Boston University study concluded that short and long-term black tea consumption reverses endothelial vasomotor dysfunction in patients with coronary artery disease. This finding may partly explain the association between tea intake and decreased cardiovascular disease events.

In 2006, a German study concluded that the addition of milk prevents vascular protective effects of tea.

Theaflavin-3-gallate, a theaflavin derivative found in black tea, could reduce the incorporation of cholesterol into mixed micelles