I feel like it’s pretty safe to say that one of the most common teas in the Western world is black tea. There haven’t been the same kinds of concerted studies into black tea as there are into green tea, so I guess it’s not really in the news as often, but it seems to be the most likely to be found in the cup! Whether taken with milk and sugar or served iced, when in the US or the UK, black is what you’ll most readily find.
Interestingly enough, while black tea has really come to the forefront as the favorite in Europe and the US, it is probably the least consumed type of tea in China, where it (and all other tea) originated. Black teas in particular are produced in a number of different countries including China, India, Sri Lanka (formerly known as Ceylon), and even the US in more recent times.
What sets black teas apart from the other varieties is the fact that they are fully oxidized. Instead of stopping the oxidation process in an earlier stage, as is done in the making of other teas, black teas just keep oxidizing until there isn’t much left to do! It is this full oxidation that gives black tea its dark appearance and provides its name. In fact, the production of black tea is about as direct as tea-making can be! It uses each of the steps in order without much real variation. Also, due to the speed with which the CTC process is completed, black tea is also going to be the natural result of this method of production.
In many cases, it is these CTC teas that will be used in tea blends. Black tea is one of the most common types that will be used for blends, though certainly not the only tea used to blend! You may recognize various Breakfast Blends and Earl Grey as some of the most common tea blends using black teas. These blends can either include various black teas from the same area, or even black teas from multiple countries to form a single flavorful tea blend to enjoy.
Whether it’s a malty Assam, an earthy Golden Tip Yunnan, or a lightly sweet and floral Darjeeling, black teas have the potential to really satisfy your craving for most any sort of flavor. Not to mention the fact that a large portion of flavored teas will have a black tea base! Just think of Earl Grey tea with bergamot for that nice citrusy flavor. Or you can really check out some pretty majestic flavored teas from 52teas, a specialty tea store that is dedicated to creating truly amazing flavors from tea. A couple personal favorite flavored blacks are the Pancake Breakfast and Chocolate Mint.
I guess when all is said and done, I just love the diversity found in the black tea category and am always eager to try something new within it!
1 The Tea Enthusiast’s Handbook: A Guide to Enjoying the World’s Best Teas by Mary Lou Heiss and Robert J Heiss.
2 The New Tea Companion by Jane Pettigrew and Bruce Richardson
Photos by Briana Morrison
In order of image:
1 Proper English Tea, print for sale HERE
2 Scottish Breakfast blend from Blend Teas, example of a CTC black tea
3 Yunnan Gold black tea purchased in Dali, Yunnan Province, China