Black tea is one of the most unique teas in the tea world. It is the most heavily processed type of tea. It is 100% oxidized and the most popular one in the Western World. It accounts for 90% of all the tea consumed and is used as a base for making different blends.
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Black tea is the outlier of all other forms of tea. It goes through a very significant oxidation process. Its flavour is largely determined by the length and time of oxidation. They steep the strongest liquor in the cup. The colour ranges from coppery red to dark orange-black. The flavor is mostly described as bright or brisk.
Black tea is made by one of two manufacturing processes :
1. Orthodox : In this process, the whole leaf is gently processed into well-twisted leaves that are separated into marked grades. This kind represents only 5-10% of black tea produced each year. They imply the premium, hand-picked teas.
2. CTC : This process involves cutting, tearing, and curling. It is made from leaf that is ripped and shredded, then rolled into pieces that have a choppy, granular appearance. CTC accounts for the majority of black tea produced today.
Black tea invites the addition of milk and sugar or a spoonful of honey to balance its natural astringency. It can make the gloomiest of days seem bright. It is often served as an accompaniment with light food at breakfast or lunch.
Black tea is the favourite choice of the majority tea drinkers world-wide. The black tea producing regions are:
1. China: The quality of Chinese black tea is very high - a sweet, soft leaf that has an underlying delicious and non-astringent flavour. The country contributes less than 15% of the world production yearly but it produces many exquisite teas. Their tradition of longer wither and slower oxidation gives their black teas a distinctive identity.
2. India: Most tea drinkers, when they think of tea, they think about Indian black teas. India produces black tea in a diverse group of 15 states. Assam is the birthplace of the indigeneous tea bush Camellia sinensis var assamica. Darjeeling tea is India's most celebrated and the world's most famous. India largely manufactures CTC tea.
3. Sri Lanka: This tropical island produces some of the world's finest black tea. Ceylon tea became world famous when Thomas Lipton started selling it using "Place of Origin" as a designation of quality. The teas are famous for their fine, elegant and flavourful orthodox style.
China is the birthplace of black tea. Tea drinking began to slowly take hold of the West by the end of the Ming Dynasty. Eventually, tea became the most sought after trade commodity of the East India Company. Fully oxidised black tea became the favourite among European tea drinkers.
Black tea being the most oxidised and flavourful tea also has a variety of health benefits ranging from cardiovascular benefits to skin benefits. Some of them are :
1. The antioxidants found in black tea help in preventing the formation of potential carcinogens in the body, resulting in the prevention of certain cancers.
2. Black tea contains substances called ‘tannins’ that have the ability to fight viruses such as influenza, dysentery, hepatitis, cold, and flu.
3. Due to its high caffeine content, drinking black tea can kill oral viruses and thus, help in preventing skin infections and keeping your skin blemish-free.