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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

64 / 100
Picture of English Breakfast Tea Bags

This arrived as a member of a sampler pack that I ordered, to try some Murchie's offerings not yet chugged.

While pleasant and reasonably robust, it still is probably the mildest black tea I've tried (loose or bagged) from Murchie's, which says more about the strength of their other teas than any glaring deficienc...

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91 / 100
Picture of Classic Bai Lin Gong Fu

This was the first tea I bought from Yunnan Sourcing that was not actually grown in Yunnan province. I was a bit reluctant to order it, but also curious, because this company has been so consistently good at everything they sell, both in terms of price and quality. This tea turned out to be a little less interesting th...

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55 / 100
Picture of Orange Pekoe & Pekoe Cut Black Tea

Orange Pekoe & Pekoe Cut Black Tea from Cain's

Style: Black Tea – Region: ?????
Oct. 9th, 2019

For background, Cain's has a similar-sounding black tea that I've seen sold in stores here in Oklahoma for many years, but haven't tried yet. It comes in large-sized bags for the purpose of brewing a couple quarts at a time to make iced tea, but I don't know if it's the same blend of pekoes as this single-serving, foo...

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89 / 100
Picture of Feng Qing

This is one of those teas that I love and could drink every day, but when I've served it to others, I found it doesn't appeal to as wide an audience, especially among those with Western tastes. People who like more "serious" Chinese teas like it, it but a lot of people either find it boring or are put-off by the astrin...

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65 / 100
Picture of Premium Leaf Tea

Premium Leaf Tea from Dilmah

Style: Ceylon Black Tea – Region: Sri Lanka / Ceylon
Oct. 4th, 2019

I'm reviewing the version of their loose-leaf "Premium" that comes in a 400g resealable plastic sack, which I got new/unopened at an estate sale. The leaves are very finely chopped, small, almost granular, as if they were part of a mechanical, one-size-fits-all process for both bagged and loose-leaf offerings. The wo...

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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
3
30 Ratings
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PG Tips Pyramid bags

Brand:PG Tips
Style:Black Tea
Region:Blend
Caffeine:Caffeinated
Leaf:Teabag
25
24 Ratings
No image of this tea

Irish Breakfast

Brand:Twinings
Style:Irish Breakfast
Region:?????
Caffeine:Caffeinated
Leaf:Teabag
38
23 Ratings
No image of this tea

English Breakfast

Brand:Twinings
Style:English Breakfast
Region:?????
Caffeine:Caffeinated
Leaf:Teabag
26
18 Ratings
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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
4 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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