Last month we went over the unique oolong tea. Have you tried some yet? It is such a beautiful tea especially after a meal. We are now part of the “OA” – “Oolong Addicts”!
This month we are going back to the good old traditional black tea.
Most commonly referred to as “tea” – black tea is a fully fermented tea which produces a dark brew with strong aroma and taste. It is the most widely consumed tea in the world, especially in the West ? English Breakfast, Darjeeling, Assam, just to name a few common black tea products.
I hear you asking what is fermentation. Fermentation is what makes a fresh piece of tea leaf, after natural drying process, turns from dark green to black (dark brown). It is also this process that gives black tea its unique black tea taste.
Black tea is widely produced in India and China, but you will also find tea plantation in all corners of the world, even in Switzerland!
Grading black tea is rather challenging. You may have heard of OP, BOP, Fanning etc and though they provide some ways of defining the grades (of Indian/Ceylon tea), they are not strictly adhered to or policed by the tea industries. However, one can assume fairly safely the more “whole” the leaf, the better the tea (OP). If you see golden colour tips, greyish tips on some of the leaves, they are called “tips” or “Tippy” and they are actually younger leaves or buds. They produce a “sweeter” brew (TGFOP)
Ever wonder what is in the commercial tea bags? Most commercial tea bags contain “fanning”, the most broken leaves, which make a snappy strong infusion. However, they are “one-timers” ? you get all the life from them after the first infusion. And so many times when we were in our tea-bag phase used 2 or 3 tea bags just to make a half-decent cup of tea.
In terms of health benefits, many health professionals debate whether black tea is better or worse for you. We can quite safely say black tea is from the same plant as green tea or white tea or oolong so its basic nutritional value will be similar. However, black tea goes through the process of full fermentation which would somewhat alter its nutritional make-up. It is also this process that makes black tea higher in caffeine than the other “orthodox” tea like green and white tea.
And if you talk to a Chinese about tea, black tea is post-fermented Pu-erh. Black tea such as English Breakfast is known as Red Tea, just to confuse you a bit.
There is so much we can share with you about Black Tea. If you would like more info, we recommend you to peruse our Reading Room section. General brewing time for black tea is 2 minutes in boiling water (with little bubbles in your kettle ? refer to our Dec newsletter last year.