What is Black Tea?
October 1, 2015
Black Tea is a varietal of the Camellia sinensis plant. What sets it apart is a traditional four-step transformation that includes withering, rolling, oxidation and firing. Put simply, black tea is a more oxidized version of white, green or oolong teas and tends to have a stronger flavor than other tea types.
There are many varieties of black tea and they are typically named after the region in which they are produced. These tend to have flavor characteristics that are unique to the area they are grown, similar to wine-growing regions. The most popular black teas include full-bodied and malty Assam tea, floral and fruity Darjeeling tea, and Sri Lankan Ceylon tea, which can all have a range of flavors, aromas, and strengths depending on the estate in which they were harvested.
Black tea is often blended with other teas, fruits, flowers, oils, or spices to produce a distinct taste and aroma. Popular black tea blends include English Breakfast Tea, Earl Grey Tea, Irish Breakfast Tea, and Chai Tea.
China is known as the birthplace of black tea. Up until the 17th century, the only teas that were consumed were green and oolong. It is believed that black tea was discovered when the Chinese started fermenting tea leaves in order to extend the storage life of tea. Fermentation produced an oxidized, darker version of the leaves, which became known as “black tea”.
Although originating in China, it was the British who popularized black tea when it was brought to Europe in the 18th century. It was first seen as an exotic drink that only the aristocracy could afford; but cultivation of the tea in Europe led to lower prices. Once it became more affordable, black tea became a commodity for the masses.
Today, many varieties of black tea are produced all over the world including China, Taiwan, India, Sri Lanka, and Nepal.
The caffeine in black tea is less than half of that in a similar-sized cup of coffee. On average, a six-ounce cup of black tea has about 50 milligrams of caffeine.
Although many people drink tea as an alternative to coffee, there are numerous health benefits to black tea. Black tea has antioxidants, specifically polyphenols and catechins, which have been known to support the mind and body. Drinking moderate amounts of black tea regularly is also known to boost metabolism and support healthy blood pressure.
How to Steep
Steeping black tea is easy. Simply heat fresh, filtered water to a rolling boil, then pour water over tea and steep for 3-5 minutes. Black tea can also be served with milk or milk alternative and sweetener of choice.
Black tea can be used to make a variety of recipes including cookies, scones, cakes, smoothies, and even savory recipes. A favorite iced black tea recipe is our Caramel Vanilla Iced Tea Latte.