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Black Tea

Wikipedia: Black_tea | Wikicha: Black_tea_(fully_oxidized) | Teaviews: black-tea 
Updated: Mar. 12, 2014 

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Browse Black Tea (1729)Read Reviews (1022)Brands of Black Tea

Table of contents:
About Black Tea | Varieties of Black Tea | Best (Top-Rated) Black Tea

About Black Tea

Loose-leaf black tea, with whole, curly leaves
SFTGFOP1, a very high grade of loose-leaf black tea.
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.

A cup of black tea in a teacup with a rose pattern
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 tea

Brewing 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

Black GunpowderBlack Gunpowder
Ceylon Black TeaCeylon Black Tea
Darjeeling Black TeaDarjeeling Black Tea
English BreakfastEnglish Breakfast
Golden MonkeyGolden Monkey
Irish BreakfastIrish Breakfast
Lapsang SouchongLapsang Souchong
Ostfriesen Tea (East Frisian Tea)Ostfriesen Tea (East Frisian Tea)
Panyang CongouPanyang Congou
Russian CaravanRussian Caravan
Scottish BreakfastScottish Breakfast
Yunnan RedYunnan Red
Zao Bei JianZao Bei Jian

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

Picture of Black Tea

Black Tea

Brand:Lipton Tea
Style:Black Tea
20 Ratings
Picture of PG Tips Pyramid bags

PG Tips Pyramid bags

Brand:PG Tips
Style:Black Tea
19 Ratings
Picture of Irish Breakfast

Irish Breakfast

Style:Irish Breakfast
17 Ratings
Picture of Assam


Brand:Two Leaves Tea
Region:Assam, India
14 Ratings
Picture of English Breakfast

English Breakfast

Style:English Breakfast
11 Ratings

Top-Rated Teas

Picture of Honey Black Tea

Honey Black Tea

Brand:Health & Tea
Style:Black Tea
Region:Taiwan / Formosa
3 Ratings
Picture of Keemun Full Leaf Tea

Keemun Full Leaf Tea

Region:Anhui, China
3 Ratings
Picture of Assam TGFOP Black Tea

Assam TGFOP Black Tea

Brand:Arbor Teas
Region:Assam, India
3 Ratings
Picture of Laoshan Black

Laoshan Black

Brand:Verdant Tea
Style:Black Tea
Region:Shandong, China
3 Ratings
Picture of Lapsang Souchong Organic Tea

Lapsang Souchong Organic Tea

Style:Lapsang Souchong
3 Ratings

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