Why is black tea good for you? Is it because it has a way of transporting us to a different place and state of mind? How would you like to experience the kisses of clouds as they pass below where Mt. Everest sits in the distance or plant your toes in the soil where Bengal tigers roam?
What Is Black Tea?
Black tea is a type of tea made from the tea plant Camellia sinensis. Various tea plantations throughout the world grow black tea which goes on to be marketed as a single-origin black tea or as part of a black tea blend.
Various Black Teas
In the tea world, there are hundreds of different types of tea. Black tea is one of them. You may hear the term “black tea types” when describing various black teas, but a “type” of tea refers to whether it’s black, green, oolong, herbal, etc. A “variety” refers to the numerous different teas that are made from a “type” (black, green, oolong, etc. ) tea.
There are hundreds of black tea varieties throughout the world. We will list the most common black teas for the sake of keeping this read from going on forever!
Most Common Black Teas
These black teas are unadulterated (no blends or infusions.)
Assam black tea is one of the most common of all black teas and is used in various blends as a base tea. It comes from the Assam province of India, where Bengal tigers freely roam through tea plantations.
Keemun black tea is also another prevalent black tea used in black tea blends. For Chinese black tea blends, Keemun is a common base tea. Keemun grows in the Anhui Province of China, where beautiful rows of green tea plants dot the hillsides.
Yunnan (along with Keemun) is a black tea also used in various Chinese black tea blends. Southwest China is where you’ll find Yunnan tea growing. The sides of mountains are beautiful emerald green as far as the eye can see with tea plants.
Darjeeling is considered to be the “caviar” of all tea types because it is grown in one region of the world only in the steep mountains at high elevations. On a clear day, tea pluckers perched on the side of the mountain can see Mt. Everest. The amount of tea produced with each flush is very limited, making this tea one of the more rare types of tea.
Ceylon (Sri Lanka)
Ceylon black tea is very popular in black tea blends. The south-central and south-western part of the island of Sri Lanka is where you’ll find Ceylon tea growing. The lush green tea plantations anchor the gorgeous sunsets of oranges, pinks, and purples that are exotic and magnificent.
Nilgiri black tea is a choice black tea used by some of the leading tea brands as part of a black tea blend to produce black blended teas. This tea grows in the southwest tip of India. The tea plantations are nestled among mountains where the ocean mist of the Arabian and Laccadive Seas settled upon the tea leaves.
Kenya black tea is widely used by many leading tea companies as part of a black tea blend to produce many black blended teas. These tea plantations rest gracefully in the lowlands of southwest Kenya where this tea takes on the robust climate of the sun and rich soil.
Orange Pekoe: A Confusing Black Tea
Many of us assume Orange Pekoe tea is either orange-colored or flavored. However, it’s not. So, is Orange Pekoe black tea also? Yes, it is. This tea doesn’t have anything “orange” about it. “Orange Pekoe” is a term to describe a grade of black tea.
Many countries grade their tea according to the “Pekoe” system. This system was said to have originated from a Holland monarchy called the “House of Orange,” where tea traders took and presented tea called “baiho” (translates to pek-ho) to the monarch.
Countries such as India, Africa, and Sri Lanka are a few tea-producing countries that use the “Pekoe” grading system. Some countries such as China and Japan use a completely different grading system.
Specific abbreviations are used to provide the tea industry a description of which part(s) of the tea plant was used to make a tea. Teas are graded based on whole leaf, broken leaf, fannings, dust, and superfine dust.
The Pekoe grading system’s numerous abbreviations and references are complex and somewhat difficult to understand for those of us outside of the tea trading industry. Not to add to the confusion, tea producers may use various formulations of the abbreviations.
What Does Black Tea Taste Like?
Every tea, whether it’s black or green, will have its own distinct and unique flavor. There isn’t a universal description for black tea. The beauty of any type of tea is how the flavor develops as a result of where it’s grown (climate, soil, etc.), when it’s picked (flush,) and how it’s processed.
The tea plant (Camellia sinensis) grown on the top of the mountains above the clouds will produce a different flavor compared to the same plant grown on flat land near the ocean. Also, a black tea such as Assam will have its characteristic malty flavor when in its true form; however, when infusions of bergamot essential oils are added to Assam, it takes on a whole different taste which is what Earl Grey is known for.
What Is Considered The Best Black Tea?
Tea preference is subjective to personal preference and the local tea culture. A black tea for residents living in England will most likely be different than those of us who reside here in the U.S. Your next-door neighbor may prefer a blended infused black tea, whereas you may prefer an unadulterated black tea.
So, there’s no definitive answer to what’s considered the best when it comes to black teas. What we can tell you is here in the U.S., 84% of Americans consumed black tea in 2019.
Blends And Infusions Of Black Teas
A “blend” of black teas is two or more black teas combined to create a unique flavor experience. Tea makers use a careful formulation of specific black teas and the amounts to produce black tea blends such as English Breakfast and Irish Breakfast.
An “infused” black tea is a black tea (or a blend of black teas) with essential oils, fruit, scented flowers, or spices added to create a few black teas such as Earl Grey, Chai, Peach, and Cinnamon. Various infused black teas are sold by retailers under specially created names for that business.
A trend among avid tea drinkers concocting their own unique blends and infusions is becoming popular. Some add infusions of alcohol such as vodka or whiskey, while others create personal blends of different black teas that aren’t even on the market.
Black Tea Benefits
Black tea contains various constituents that benefit our health. Things such as flavonoids, catechins, polyphenols, and more are claimed to be responsible for promoting or preventing various ailments.
Because we lack professional expertise regarding tea’s health benefits, we cannot make any claims on specific benefits tea provides. We can, however, provide you with evidence-based data from research reports and studies regarding tea’s benefits on the human body.
According to a study conducted by researchers, black tea is reported to reduce the risk of some types of cancer, promote healthier hearts and metabolism, help with diabetes, and benefit those with arthritis.
How Much Caffeine Is In Black Tea?
Black tea contains more caffeine than any other type of tea (green, oolong, etc.) An average six-ounce cup of black tea yields about 40-50 mg of caffeine. Keeping that in mind, the FDA recommends no more than 400 mg of caffeine consumption per day. As much as we love our tea (and even coffee), moderation is the key to avoiding caffeine jitters.
Amazing Ways To Enjoy Black Tea
We have a few ways to make black tea that will wow the socks off of your family or guests!
Masala Chai Recipe
Masala Chai is a native tea drink in India.
- 2 teaspoons of ground cloves
- 1 teaspoon of ground cardamom
- 2 teaspoons of ground cinnamon
- ⅛ teaspoon of ground ginger
- ⅛ teaspoon of black pepper
- 1 teaspoon of sugar
- 2 tablespoons of loose-leaf Assam black tea
- ¼ cup of milk
- 2 cups of water
- Combine the water and spices in a pan and bring to a boil.
- Remove from the heat and allow to sit for a few minutes.
- Add the milk and sugar to the pan of water and spices and bring to a boil.
- Remove from the heat.
- Place loose leaf tea in an infuser and drop it into a teapot.
- Pour the water, milk, and spice water into the teapot.
- Allow the tea to steep for 5 minutes.
- Remove the tea infuser.
- Gently stir the tea inside the teapot.
- Pour into a teacup and enjoy!
Instant Pot Peach Tea Recipe
For you “Instant Pot” fans, we have a great way to make an amazing summer tea.
- 6 cups of water
- 4 teaspoons of loose-leaf black tea (or teabags
- 1 medium-sized fresh peach (pitted and sliced)
- 1 teaspoon of honey
- Put the loose leaf tea in an infuser and drop it into your Instant Pot.
- Add all of the other ingredients and gently stir.
- Place the lid onto the Instant Pot.
- Select “manual” (normal) for 5 minutes.
- Allow the Instant Pot to fully brew and release the steam before opening.
- Remove the lid and the tea infuser.
- Strain the tea into a tea pitcher.
- Pour into ice-filled glasses and enjoy!
Black Tea Is A Great Start!
If you are starting a new tea journey, we encourage you to explore the different types of teas and their varieties. Black tea is a good place to start since it is the most commonly consumed tea.
Start your own tea journey and explore teas, their layers of flavors, where they came from and more.