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Black Tea

Wikipedia: Black_tea | Teaviews: black-tea 
Last Updated: Mar. 12, 2014 

About Black Tea

Slightly twisted black tea leaves, olive brown color with hints of orangeSFTGFOP1, a top grade of orthodox 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.

Victorian rose-patterned tea cup filled with black tea, with matching saucer and shiny spoon, on a pink backgroundBlack 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.
Loose-leaf Tea with golden-orange and gray-black twisted, hairy leavesA few lighter black teas can taste better with lower water temperatures, but usually, even these teas taste fine with boiling water.

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.

Recent Black Tea Reviews — RSS rss icon

79 / 100
Picture of Assam - Itakhooli Estate

This was a rather strong, but high-quality Assam sold for an exceptionally good price.

The dry leaf has a potent aroma, spicy and fruity. I already notice the raspberry notes even in the dry leaf. But the aroma somehow betrays a slight harshness: I can tell this is going to be a tea with a bit of an edge, even befor...

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70 / 100
Picture of Georgian BOP

Georgian BOP from Simpson & Vail

Style: Black Tea – Region: Georgia
Nov. 20th, 2022

I have been wanting to try a tea from Georgia for a long time; the past few times I've gotten teas from Simpson & Vail, this tea has not been available, so I was excited to see it come back into their catalogue.

This tea was also really fascinating, very different from other black teas I've tried, even different fro...

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100 / 100
Picture of Georgian BOP

Georgian BOP from Simpson & Vail

Style: Black Tea – Region: Georgia
Nov. 20th, 2022

I love this tea!! The aroma is wonderful and unique, I don’t know exactly how to describe it but it smells bready with floral notes. The taste is also amazing and weirdly it has notes of citrus peel which I really like! (This tea is not a blend, just black tea, so there’s not actual citrus in it). It also tastes li...

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82 / 100
Picture of Assam - Dikom Estate, GTGFOP1, Black Indian Tea

The aroma of this tea is wonderful and bready and the aroma doesn’t wear off as you drink it. The taste is very smooth and honestly very “normal.” I like this tea because it is not astringent and it makes me feel good after drinking it (some teas don’t fully agree with me). For how normal this tea is though, it...

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97 / 100
Picture of Japanese Black Tea

Japanese Black Tea from Simpson & Vail

Style: Black Tea – Region: Japan
Nov. 18th, 2022

I was really impressed by this tea. I found it delightful, and also easy to brew and easy to drink. Smooth, aromatic, and pleasing in flavor. I've only ever tried one other black tea from Japan, but this one was by far the better of the two, and ranks among the top-tier black teas I've sampled from any region.

The d...

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Most-Rated Black Tea

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Black Tea

Brand:Lipton Tea
Style:Black Tea
Region:?????
Caffeine:Caffeinated
Leaf:Teabag
4
31 Ratings
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PG Tips Pyramid bags

Brand:PG Tips
Style:Black Tea
Region:Blend
Caffeine:Caffeinated
Leaf:Teabag
25
24 Ratings
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Irish Breakfast

Brand:Twinings
Style:Irish Breakfast
Region:?????
Caffeine:Caffeinated
Leaf:Teabag
17
23 Ratings
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English Breakfast

Brand:Twinings
Style:English Breakfast
Region:?????
Caffeine:Caffeinated
Leaf:Teabag
12
20 Ratings
No image of this tea

Assam

Brand:Two Leaves and a Bud
Style:Assam
Region:Assam, India
Caffeine:Caffeinated
Leaf:Sachet
55
15 Ratings

Top-Rated Black Tea

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Honey Black Tea

Brand:Health & Tea
Style:Black Tea
Region:Taiwan / Formosa
Caffeine:Caffeinated
Leaf:Loose
98
3 Ratings
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Scottish Breakfast

Brand:Murchie's Tea & Coffee Ltd
Style:Scottish Breakfast
Region:Blend
Caffeine:Caffeinated
Leaf:Loose
97
3 Ratings
Picture of Hu-Kwa Tea

Hu-Kwa Tea

Brand:Mark T. Wendell
Style:Lapsang Souchong
Region:Taiwan / Formosa
Caffeine:Caffeinated
Leaf:Loose
97
6 Ratings
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Keemun Full Leaf Tea

Brand:Foojoy
Style:Keemun
Region:Anhui, China
Caffeine:Caffeinated
Leaf:Loose
96
4 Ratings
Picture of Laoshan Black

Laoshan Black

Brand:Verdant Tea
Style:Black Tea
Region:Shandong, China
Caffeine:Caffeinated
Leaf:Loose
95
4 Ratings

Varieties, Kinds, or Types of Black Tea

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