Black Tea 101 - A tea lover's guide to types of black tea, its history and more!
Tea has a separate fan base, especially in Indian households. Whether it's the first cup on a chilly morning or that refreshing cup after a tiring day, tea has the power to completely transform your mood. Packed with bold flavours, medicinal properties and a unique taste, tea is a very popular beverage across the world. Its enjoyed in various forms and types, making it a truly versatile beverage. One of the widely known and consumed types is black tea! This blog takes a deep dive into the world of black tea.
What is Black Tea?
Did you know that white, green, oolong and black tea all come from the same plant known as Camellia Sinensis? What sets these teas apart is their process thereon. Black tea, for instance, undergoes oxidization instead of fermentation. The darkness of the leaves depends on the length of the oxidization process. Black tea is the most popular type of tea consumed all over the world. It can be brewed with water and served as is, or it can be combined with milk and sweeteners to bring out its flavours. It has a rich, pleasant aroma that adds to the multi-sensory experience of drinking it.
Going back to the roots
The origin of tea traces back to China where it was enjoyed by emperors. However, they mostly consumed green and oolong teas back then. Black tea was discovered by accident when the owner of a Chinese tea shop left the leaves out to dry in the sun for too long! Later it was found that these dried leaves were a much better option to export as they held well over long journeys as compared to green teas, which quickly turned stale. The oxidized leaves of black tea gave them a longer shelf life and thus they quickly made their way across the globe. The major producers of tea today are China, India, Africa and Sri Lanka. The states of Assam and West Bengal contribute the most to India’s abundant tea production.
The farm-to-table process
Let’s look into how Camellia Sinensis is converted into black tea leaves! The tea leaves are hand-picked by farmers and are later oxidised. The leaves are rolled and then packed into bamboo baskets. They are then subjected to a slow, gradual process of oxidization which lends them their robust taste and flavour. This results in the creation of flavonoids, which ultimately determine the colour, taste and aroma of the tea. A method called CTC (crush, tear, curl) is broadly used to speed up the process. This process, however, is not used for specialty teas.
There are four primary categories or classes of teas - whole leaf, broken leaf, fannings and dust. Whole-leaf tea is the most premium type of tea. Broken leaves, fannings and dust subsequently get cheaper and less premium. Fannings are very small pieces of tea leaves while dust is an even finer form. They might sometimes be used in tea bags, making it easier for them to be steeped, while also giving them a longer shelf life. The selection of premium teas at TGL Co. is of high-quality, whole-leaf teas. Both their loose-leaf and tea-bag variants exclusively use whole-leaf tea and broken leaf for a richer, better experience.
The various types of black teas and where they come from
There are many types of black tea, each with its unique taste and aroma, grown in different regions of the world. Let’s explore some of the most popular black tea varieties and where they are grown. Assam black tea is a robust and malty tea grown in the Assam region of India. It is often used in blends, such as English Breakfast and Irish Breakfast teas. Darjeeling black tea is a lighter tea with a floral aroma, grown in the Darjeeling district of India. It is often referred to as the ‘champagne of teas’ due to its high quality and distinct taste.
Sri Lankan tea, also known as Ceylon black tea, has a full-bodied, bold taste. It's grown in the central highlands of Sri Lanka. Keemun black tea is a Chinese tea with a smoky and earthy flavour, grown in the Anhui province of China. Lapsang Souchong black tea is a Chinese tea with a strong smoky flavour, grown in the Fujian province of China. It is often used in cooking and is a popular ingredient in marinades and rubs for meat dishes.
Let’s make a piping hot cuppa!
Black tea is known for its rich and bold flavour, which can range from malty and earthy to floral and delicate, depending on the variety. Its aroma can be described as a mix of fruity, floral, and spicy notes, which are released when the tea is steeped in hot water. The longer the tea is steeped, the stronger its flavour and aroma become, making it a popular choice for those who enjoy a strong and flavorful cup of tea. On average, a cup of black tea contains about 50-90 mg of caffeine, depending on factors such as the brewing time and the type of tea used. Overall, black tea is a complex and satisfying beverage that is enjoyed by tea enthusiasts all over the world.
How to brew black tea:
Brewing black tea is simple, but there are a few things to keep in mind to ensure that you get the best flavor and aroma from your tea.
Water temperature - Black tea should be brewed with water that is just below boiling point, around 95-100 degree Celsius. Water that is too hot can make the tea bitter.
Steeping time - Black tea should be steeped for 3-5 minutes, depending on the strength of the tea and your personal preference. Steeping the tea for too long can make it bitter.
Tea to water ratio - The general rule of thumb is to use one teaspoon of loose tea or one tea bag per cup of water. However, you can adjust the amount of tea to suit your taste.
Milk and sugar - Black tea is often served with milk and sugar, but this is a matter of personal preference. Some people prefer to drink their black tea plain, while others like to add milk and sugar to enhance the flavor.
Black teas are versatile, which means that they can be enjoyed in both hot and cold beverage recipes.
Health benefits of black tea
Black tea is not only delicious but also has several health benefits. Here are some of the ways that black tea can benefit your health:
Antioxidants - Black tea contains antioxidants called polyphenols, which help to protect your cells from damage caused by free radicals.
Heart health - Drinking black tea has been linked to a reduced risk of heart disease. The polyphenols in black tea can help to lower blood pressure and improve blood vessel function.
Digestive health - Black tea contains tannins, which can help to soothe digestive problems like diarrhea and nausea. It may also have a beneficial effect on gut microbiota.
Brain function - Black tea contains caffeine, which can help to improve alertness and focus. It also contains the amino acid L-theanine, which can have a calming effect on the brain.
Weight management - Drinking black tea can help to boost metabolism and aid in weight loss. It also contains compounds that may help to reduce the absorption of fat and carbohydrates.
Overall, black tea is a delicious and healthy beverage that is enjoyed by millions of people around the world. Whether you prefer a bold, robust English Breakfast or a delicate, floral Darjeeling, there is a black tea out there for everyone. TGL Co. offers a wide selection of straight and blended black teas, such as Rose Glow, Assam Tea, Darjeeling Tea, English Breakfast and many more! Check out the collection of Indian, International and Indian Wellness tea blends on the TGL Co. website!