Last year we covered a number of common tea types – to recap, there are the following 5 “orthodox” tea types:
Black Tea (English Breakfast, Darjeeling, Assam)
Green Tea (Sencha, Jasmine Green Tea)
Oolong (Formosa Green Jade, White Dragon)
White Tea (Silver Needle, Sow Mee)
Pu-erh (Pu-erh, Rosie Wong, Toucha)
And of course there are also fruit and herbal infusions which strictly speaking, are not tea as they do not contain tea leaves.
So now let’s dig a little deeper: let’s chat about Tea Types in detail. We’ll start with the largest tea drinking nation and the motherland of all tea: China.
Before we start talking about Chinese Black Tea, please allow me to confuse you: by Chinese black tea, we mean Chinese “RED” tea. In Chinese tea categorisation, Chinese black is really Chinese red. Black tea in Chinese tea categorisation is Pu-erh. For clarity in this article, all Chinese red we are referring as Chinese black tea.
Yes I see a hand raising at the back with a burning question: Why do they call it red?
Chinese black is called Chinese red because of the infusion colour. Chinese red tea goes through the same process as a standard black tea and its pivotal process, oxidation (some refers as fermentation), gives the black tea as its unique taste, along with a coppery reddish tone in its brew, hence the tea categorisation name.
Chinese black tea originated from FuJian, some time around the 16th century. There are 2 main leaf types in Chinese blacks: Congou and Souchong.
Congou typically features small leaves with a tint of sweetish-smokiness. Some compare it to a fine red wine! Keemun black tea, a fine example of Congou, is sometimes referred as Keemun Congou. Congou implies the complex work involved in making the tea. Another beautiful congou is Lychee Red, which is often served in southern Chinese household.
Souchong comes from Yunnan, where you can still find virgin hillsides and young tea workers in their traditional tribal clothing. The most well known Tarry Lapsang Souchong is a fine example of Souchong, which carries a bold smoky flavour which smells and tastes like fine cigar or burnt tyres depending on your personal liking! (Men love it!)
Generally speaking, Chinese black tea has lower tannin than its Indian and Ceylon counterparts. Brewing is just the same as with any black tea with water just come to boil and you can serve it with milk, although Chinese typically drink tea with milk and overbrewing is not recommended.
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