What is black tea?
In short, 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.
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 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.
- 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 Earl Grey tea. Others represent original and truly unique artisan creations. Spiced Apple Chai, anyone?
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