Discovering Tea Secrets. All You Need to Know About Black Tea
Carmen Rotaru | On 29, Jan 2013
Black tea isn’t actually black, it’s red! Black tea’s name comes from a historical misunderstanding. Find out how red tea became black in the West.
Black tea is a heavenly beverage originated just like the other tea varieties from the tea plant, known for specialists as Camellia Sinensis. Black tea is also traditionally made from a variation of the Camellia Sinensis called Camellia Assamica. What makes black tea so special is the processing of the leaves part. Black tea is fermented, unlike green tea for instance which isn’t fermented at all.
Another special thing about black tea is that it retains its flavor for several years, unlike the green teas which are better to be consumed while still fresh. This interesting fact makes black tea the most exported and the best sold tea in the Western countries. We can call black tea “the wine of teas”, because it gets better with time.
Playing with Black Tea History. How Did A Mistake Become A Brand?
Black tea as Westerners call it represents in fact the name given to those teas which have been fermented. The black tea features thus a distinct red color. In China, the mother land of all teas, the so called black teas in the Western countries, are in fact known as red teas or in Chinese translation “Hong Cha”, “hong” meaning, in fact, red and not black. The true black Chinese teas as they are recognized in China are the post-fermented or ages teas. It is the same process as with good wine, the older, the better.
How did this confusion in name related to black tea appeared? It is in fact a historical confusion. The story goes back in the 17th century when Dutch and British traders discovered in their quest for merchandise that some tea leaves were darker than the usual green tea leaves, they were accustomed to until then. So they naturally named it “black tea” without really making any fuss about the original Chinese name. I guess that they didn’t even know that “hong” referred actually to red color.
The British continued to maintain and sustain that confusion about black tea. They did tea trade in Xiamen City, the province of Fujian, China when they first had a sip of the black tea. The traders were indeed very happy when discovering this heavenly beverage. It was much more tasty and flavored than green tea. The great part was that it could be shipped over important distances and so much like wine it really improved in taste and flavor with time. So the name, brand and label of black tea remained the same for centuries in West though now the people are starting to acknowledge the initial traders mistake.
Black Tea Mixes And Matches. Finding Out More About Black Tea Varieties
We already established about black tea that like any other tea type it originates from China. As green teas, black teas varieties which are still unblended are usually named after the regions where they are produced.
Black Tea Varieties
Each region produces an unique type of flavor and tea. Let’s find out together what are the best known unblended black tea varieties found on the contemporary market.
Tanyang Gongfu comes from Tanyang in the Fujian region, China and it is one of the three famous Fujian reds.
Jin Junmei comes from Mount Wuyi still in the Fujian region, China and it is one of the highest grade red teas in mainland China.
Ying De Hong comes from Guangdong Province, China and features an aroma resembling to cocoa and a very sweet aftertaste. This one is my favorite because it actually tastes better than hot chocolate.
Darjeeling comes from West Bengal, India and it is not a pure black tea, being in fact a mixture of green, black and oolong flavors.
Nilgiri comes from Tamil Nadu region, India being intensely aromatic, strong, and fragrant.
Black Tea Blends
Black tea is also included in different tea blends which makes it even more tasteful and flavored. Most of the blends are well known and I am sure you will find here your favorite type.
Earl Grey is a black tea with bergamot oil blend.
English Breakfast is a traditional blend of teas originating from Assam (India), Ceylon (Sri Lanka) and Kenya. It is robust, and rich, and blended to go well with milk and sugar. This is my favorite blend if you’d ask me, even better than the most expensive coffee.
English Afternoon Tea is a refreshing blend which features strong Assam and Kenyan teas mixed with Ceylon, Sri Lanka.
Irish Breakfast is a blend of several black teas originated from different regions of the world.
Masala Chai which mixes black tea, spices, milk, and a sweetener either sugar or honey.
Thanks for joining us into this wonderful world of tea. About black tea there are still many stories to be told and many useful information to be uncovered, so stay tuned and follow our newsletter for new interesting articles concerning teas.
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