What is black tea?
In short, loose leaf black tea is fully fermented leaves of the tea plant, Camellia Sinensis.
How is black tea made?
After the tea leaves are harvested, they got to be processed. First, they are getting dried and withered to remove excessive moisture. Then the tea leaves are rolled into strips either mechanically or by hand for high-quality teas. Next step is fermenting, or oxidizing. The type (“color”) of the tea depends on the level of oxidation. Of all the types of tea, black is the most oxidized one. It has distinctive rich color and robust flavor.
Is drinking black tea good for you?
Yes, and in more ways than one. Properly prepared loose leaf black tea isn’t just a shot of energy in a cup. In addition to caffeine, it contains antioxidants, polyphenols, amino acids and other compounds that benefit the system in unique ways. Black tea has a high concentration of heart-friendly flavonoids which improve cardiac muscle function, minimize damage to artery walls, reduce clots and prevent oxidation of LDL cholesterol. Anti-cancer properties of black tea are also being studied; these are the result of a compound called TF-2, which targets cancer cells while keeping healthy cells intact. Tannins in black tea boost immunity, and its polyphenols and minerals reduce signs of ageing. In terms of energy and focus, black tea delivers a smoother, more well-rounded package as compared to coffee and other energy drinks. That’s because its caffeine content is balanced by L-theanine, an amino acid that improves concentration while also keeping you relaxed.
When searching for a perfect cup of black tea, glance through the labels and descriptions, paying attention to these little details that make a world of difference.
- Origin. Most of the loose leaf black tea comes from India, China, and Ceylon. Within these regions, the highest quality elite teas are those harvested from a single source – plantation, estate, or garden. It is helpful to know where exactly your tea comes from since teas from different regions have different qualities and flavors. This is the same concept as used in the wine industry, where appellation d’origine controlee ensures certain qualities of wines made of grape from defined source. Single origin teas are available from the best online tea stores and popular brands as well as from smaller vendors who ship directly from the source. Some of the world finest black teas come from the Indian regions of Darjeeling, Nilgiri and Assam. Reed more about Indian black teas here>>
- The size of leaves. There are whole leaf teas, aka “orange pekoe”, then, broken leaves, and, finally, fannings and dusts. Perfectly intact unbroken leaves are the most valuable. They are usually used for the production of teas of the highest quality. Fannings and dust are being used as “stuffing” for casual fast brewing tea bags (this is still tea!).
- Pure or blend. Various blends can be created by mixing different teas with each other or with other botanicals. Unflavored blends, like English Breakfast, are done by mixing black teas of different origins and qualities. By adding various botanical ingredients, spices, and flavorings, tea producers create infinite numbers of flavored tea blends. Some of them are well known and popular staples like Masala Chai and Earl Grey tea. Others represent original and truly unique artisan creations. Also, read our article on things you can add to your tea>>.
- Smoked tea. For a very special tea experience try Lapsang Souchong, Chinese black tea traditionally prepared by smoking over the pine wood.