Gary Clair


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Everything You Need to Know About Black TeaTea is divided into multiple types: artisan, black, blends, chai, green, herbal, matcha, oolong, Pu-Erh, and white. Each type has its own special properties that differentiate it from the others, but here we will focus on black tea. Black tea is the most widely known and consumed tea in Western culture, though it was originally created in China where it is referred to as “red tea”.

What Qualifies as Black Tea

A major distinguishing factor of black tea is that its leaves are fully oxidized. Like other teas, it originates from the tea plant known as Camellia Sinensis, though black tea is traditionally made from the plant’s Camellia Assamica variety. Its leaves are fermented and retain their flavor years after being picked, setting it apart from most other teas and marking the reason why it is the most exported and sold type of tea in the world.

Though it is not necessarily a qualifying factor, most black teas include younger leaves that are withered, fully oxidized, rolled, and fired after being picked. Black teas can be pure black tea or blends by combining the leaves with other types of leaves.

How Black Tea Got its NameEverything You Need to Know About Black Tea

As mentioned above, black tea is referred to as “Hong Cha” in China, where it was created. “Hong” translates to “red” in English, not “black”. There, black tea refers to post-fermented and aged teas that appear black when the leaves mix with water, as opposed to the reddish color of the tea Westerners refer to as black tea.

According to the story, 17th century Dutch and British traders gathering merchandise from Asia to sell in Europe discovered the tea. They had seen and sold tea before, but the leaves had always been paler, usually green, so they named the new discovery “black tea” for the color of its leaves without asking the locals to translate the tea’s actual name. The tea became incredibly popular for its superior taste and ability to improve with age while being shipped, allowing the traders’ mistake to become the official name in the West.

How to Identify the Highest Quality Black Tea

Black teas are made around the world, though the most famous are made in Sri Lanka and India. The best black teas are made by hand, though the use of machines to oxidize the leaves has become more common. The use of machines does not have to mean poor quality tea, however, as a leaf selection process that seeks out only exceptional leaves and harvests, like that used in Newby Tea’s black tea, can significantly increase the quality and taste.

Everything You Need to Know About Black TeaTypes of Black Tea

Black tea comes in multiple varieties, some pure and others blends. Varieties are distinguished by region of origin and unique flavors. Pure black teas include Assam, Darjeeling, Jin Junmei, Nilgiri, Tanyang Gongfu, and Ying De Hong among others. Blended black teas include famous favorites like Earl Grey, English Afternoon, English Breakfast, Irish Breakfast, and Masala Chai among others.

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