Almost everyone knows about black tea. In the United States, black tea accounts for about 85% of the overall consumption of tea. When you drink iced tea, you are usually drinking black tea—in fact, over 80% of black tea drunk in the United States is iced tea.
Black tea leaves receive the most processing out of all the four categories of tea:
- Withering for about twenty-four hours.
- Rolling—by hand, to preserve the precious tip of the leaf.
- Oxidizing, sometimes called “fermenting,” for several hours to soften the flavor.
- Firing at around 125° Fahrenheit to lose over 99% of their original moisture content.
Some popular black teas are: Yunnan, Pu-erh, Keemun (China); Assam, Nilgiri, Darjeeling (India); and Ceylon (Sri Lanka).
While black tea have not received much health-related research, some studies link drinking black tea to cardiovascular benefits and bone density assistance.
Many people associate black tea with a stereotyped Victorian fashion of use: boiled tap water, a Tetley’s (or Lipton’s) tea bag, a difficult-to-hold porcelain cup, cows’ cream, and refined white sugar. If this is your cup of tea—okay! By all means, stay the course. Hail the Queen and make sure to visit your dentist often.
But seriously, as you explore fine tea, you may discover that milk and sugar become a thing of the past—or at least an option instead of a necessity.
The West is only now discovering how absolutely delicious and healthy whole leaf tea is. We promise, this is not your parents’ tea. Why? Familiarize yourself with the great whole leaf tea vs. tea bags debate. High grade loose-leaf tea, properly steeped, unfolds a whole host of flavor combinations that are just not available to us in a tea bag full of leaf fannings (tiny bits).
Some spectacular black teas are:
- Classic English Breakfast, a single-estate Sri Lankan tea.
- Coconut Assam, a luscious Assam Black with fresh coconut pieces.
- Stenthal Darjeeling, an exquisite second flush Indian Black.
How did black tea take off so well in the West? Before World War II, most of the tea drunk in the US was green tea. The whole country boycotted Chinese and Japanese teas, so the demand for black tea from India overcame the demand for green tea.