Black TeaWikipedia: Black_tea | Wikicha: Black_tea_(fully_oxidized) | Teaviews: black-tea
Updated: Jan. 13, 2014
About Black Tea
SFTGFOP1, a very high grade of loose-leaf black tea.
is tea that has been fully oxidized
(sometimes referred to as being "fermented" although it is not a true fermentation process). Both the leaves and brewed tea tend to have a dark color, although some black teas are golden or greenish in color. In Chinese, black tea is called hóngchá
(紅茶), meaning red tea
, although in English, red tea more often refers to rooibos
, an herbal tea that is not made from the tea plant.
Black tea also tends to contain more tannins
, chemicals giving the tea its characteristic dark color. The tannins are actually a form of antioxidants
, and are the chemicals that the catechins of green tea are transformed to when they undergo oxidation.
The most popular type of tea in the world
Black tea is the most popular and widespread type of tea in the world, and makes up the bulk of the world's tea production and consumption; outside of southeast Asia, an overwhelming majority of the tea produced and consumed is black tea. In many cultures, when people say tea
, they are referring to black tea.
Black tea is the default tea of Western tea culture. Photo by Miya
, licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0
Black tea is grown in many countries and comes in many styles and grades; it is hard to generalize about the flavor or aroma of black teas. Black tea is the only type of tea that is widely classified into grades of tea
using a system of letters, like OP, FTGFOP, BOP, etc. It is a widespread assumption that black teas are stronger, more bitter, and more heavily caffeinated than green teas
; this is not true: green teas can be quite bitter, and black teas can be mellow. The strength of tea depends both on how it is brewed and the style and grade of tea used.
Caffeine content of black teas, compared to other teas
The caffeine content
also varies greatly from one tea to the next and depends on how the tea is brewed--and it is not safe to assume that black tea contains more caffeine than green or other types of tea. In general, black teas with more tips / leaf buds such as golden monkey
are the most heavily-caffeinated of black teas, and souchongs, made out of larger leaves, are less caffeinated.
Black teas used in English Breakfast and Irish Breakfast blends are usually deliberately chosen for their moderate-to-high caffeine content.
Brewing black teaBrewing tea
is a complex art and is also a matter of peronal taste. In general, black teas tend to taste best when brewed with boiling water. A rare exception to this rule are a few of the lightest black teas, like some Darjeeling first flush
, a few of which produce better results when brewed with water slightly below the boiling point.
The optimal steeping times of black teas vary widely; strong, broken-leaf black teas infuse quickly and often taste best with brief steeping times, sometimes only about 1 minute, whereas other teas may taste best if steeped as long as 5-8 minutes.
Storing black tea
Black tea typically stays fresh and retains its flavor longer than green or white teas. A typical black tea, properly stored in a dark, airtight container, can be stored for 2 years or more with little difference in flavor. Some more delicate black teas, however, like Darjeeling first flush, do not always store as well. See our article on storing tea
for more info.
Varieties, Kinds, or Types of Black Tea
Best Black Tea
The notion of the "best" Black Tea is subjective, because different people have different tastes. We present the most often-rated and highest-rated teas in this category, and allow you to draw your own conclusions.
Most Often-Rated Teas: