Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Black Tea and Then Some

Have you ever looked into your cup of Black Tea and wondered where it comes from?

There are literally thousands of different types of Black Teas produced everyday all over the globe. Their main commonality is the crucial step during the processing of the leaves called "oxidation". This is where the tea leaves are exposed to oxygen which transforms the aroma and taste profile completely. The Tea will develop a reddish color in the cup and have a more robust flavor and aroma.

Some of the factors that differentiate Black Teas are:

  • where they are grown
  • the type of soil that the plants grow in
  • the climate of the growing region
  • how the leaves are processed

Black Teas are often used as a base for tea blends that may contain fruit, flowers, or spices. Pure Black Teas are also varied and remarkable all on their own. Today there are many countries that produce Black Tea, but in the beginning, around 5,000 years ago, it all began in China.

Chinese Black Teas come from the Camellia Sinensis plant. When brewed correctly they have a mellow flavor and slight sweetness. Some even have notes of chocolate and stone fruits A few of the more popular Chinese Black Teas are:

  • Keemun Black
  • Yunnan Black
  • Lapsang Souchong(Smoke Infused Black)
  • Golden Monkey

Some of our selections that contain Chinese Black Teas are Good Day Sunshine and Extra Fancy English Breakfast.

Assam Black Teas are the only ones that come from a different varietal called Camellia Assamica. These plants are grown in lowland areas, have larger leaves and are harvested more often. When brewed, the teas are known for their robust, malty flavor that makes an excellent morning cup and can support a splash of milk. One of more popular Assams known for its golden tips (the leaf tips are coated in fine, golden, downy powder) is:

  • Golden Tip Assam

We have several tea blends with an Assam base, but two favorites are our Rejuvetea and First Period Wake Up. If you look carefully at the photos on our website, you will even see the golden tips...a very desirable characteristic when it comes to tea leaves.

Darjeeling Black Tea is often called the "champagne of teas". Unlike Assam, it is grown in the mountains and the plants are exposed to much cooler temperatures. As a result, these black teas are more delicate with more petite leaves. The first flush is the most prized for its unique flavor called "muskatel" which can best be described as a mixture of tropical fruit and floral notes. Second flush and autumnal harvests tend to be less rounded and aromatic. A very well known and loved Darjeeling is:

  • Margaret's Hope Fancy Tippy Golden Flowery Orange Pekoe Muscatel

We offer a blended Darjeeling that brings the best of several flushes together called Delicious Darjeeling. It is a wonderful introduction to this historic black tea.

Ceylon Black Teas come from the island nation now called Sri Lanka. The unique topography of this island allow for three types of tea: low-grown, medium-grown and high-grown. Each has its own unique flavor profile. As the altitude increases, the climate produces fruitier and mellower teas like the famous:

  • Kenilworth Broken Orange Pekoe

Our Beleave Teas Black Tea Line can boast two Ceylon Tea Blends, one of which comes in a convenient Sachet. Cinnamon Orange Spice has truly become one of our most popular teas. Our Extra Fancy English Breakfast contains a delicious blend of Ceylon, Assam and Chinese black leaves.

Nilgiri Black Teas are grown in the southern region of India in the western Ghats mountain range. Nilgiri literally means "Blue Mountain". These teas are known for their fragrant, bright and brisk character. Many are used in special iced tea blends.

In fact, our brand new tea called Soak Up the Sun is an award winning Nilgiri tea specially blended for iced tea.

I hope that this little snapshot into the world of Black Teas will spark your curiosity enough to give them a try if you haven't already had the pleasure. 

This article was first published on SixtyandMe.com on May 17, 2018.