Known for its bold, brisk flavor, black tea is the most popular type of tea in Western culture. There are many varieties to choose from, making it one of the most versatile teas out there. Because it pairs well with so many foods and stands up to sweetener and cream, black tea is a great choice for tea novices who want to get their feet wet.
What is Black Tea?
Black tea – like its green, white and oolong cousins – comes from the Camellia Sinensis plant. The primary difference between these teas is the way they are processed.
Black tea is fully oxidized, which means that it’s exposed to oxygen for longer than other types of tea. The oxidation process is what gives this tea its dark, rich flavor and appearance.
Prior to oxidation, freshly harvested tea leaves go through two processes:
- Withering: Hot air is blown over the tea leaves to reduce moisture and make the leaves more pliable.
- Rolling: Leaves are then rolled by hand or using a cylindrical rolling table.
After going through the oxidation process, the leaves are left to dry until the moisture is removed.
Black tea generally contains more caffeine than green or white tea. However, it still has less caffeine than a cup of coffee.
- The average 8-oz. cup of black tea contains 14-61 mg of caffeine
- The average 8-oz. cup of coffee contains 70-140 mg of caffeine
What Does Black Tea Taste Like?
Black tea has a bolder flavor with a slightly astringent aftertaste. It stands up well to cream and sugar, and pairs well with a variety of foods.
- Fruity black teas are the perfect match for desserts, like sweet pastries and pies.
- Earthy and malty black teas pair well with savory, rich foods, such as meats, vegetables, potatoes and gravy.
- Smoky black teas complement heavy meats and blackened meats.
The strength of the flavor and bitterness depends on the quality and variety of the tea. Loose leaf teas tend to have more flavor and a richer aroma than traditional tea bags. Most tea bags contain dust and fannings, which are broken down pieces of tea leaves. They’re like the crumbs at the bottom of a bag of chips.
They steep faster than whole leaves, and the tea’s essential oils evaporate more quickly. The result is often a flat, lifeless taste.
Still, regardless of whether you choose loose leaf or tea bags, black tea will always have a stronger, more bitter flavor than green, white or oolong teas.
The Benefits of Black Tea
- Rich in antioxidants, primarily polyphenols like catechins, thearubigins and theaflavins.
- May help you maintain a healthy gut.
- May reduce your risk of stroke.
- May help improve insulin levels.
- May boost your energy (thanks, caffeine!)
- May reduce LDL cholesterol (the bad kind of cholesterol)
Types of Black Tea
- Assam: Grown in India’s Assam region. Assam tea has a bold, malty flavor that pairs well with milk and sugar.
- Ceylon: Grown in Sri Lanka. Ceylon tea is known for its brisk flavor with just a hint of spice.
- Darjeeling: Grown in the Darjeeling District of West Bengal, India. Darjeeling tea has a more delicate flavor and is often used as the tea base for Chai tea.
- Kenyan: Grown in Kenya. Kenyan tea has a brisk, full-bodied flavor.
Blends and Flavored Black Tea
Black tea’s strong flavor blends well with herbs, oils and other flavors. Popular blends and flavored variations of black tea include:
- Breakfast Blend: Robust, full-bodied flavor. Breakfast Blend is typically a blend of strong black teas, including Ceylon, Assam and Kenya.
- Earl Grey: The distinctive flavor and aroma of this wildly popular tea comes from bergamot oil, extracted from the bergamot orange citrus fruit.
- Masala Chai: A traditional Indian beverage that combines black tea, milk, sweetener and aromatic spices, like cinnamon, cardamom pods, cloves, ginger and black peppercorns.
How to Drink Black Tea
Black tea is usually enjoyed with milk or a non-dairy alternative and sweetener, but it can also be enjoyed on its own with (or without) a slice of lemon.
When brewing black tea:
- The water temperature should be between 200° F and 212° F.
- Steeping time should be 3-5 minutes.
- 1 teaspoon
- Iced tea. Black tea is always the perfect choice for iced tea. Making your own is easier than you think. Just Brew a pot of hot tea and chill overnight in the fridge. Add sweetener and lemon if you like, or enjoy it plain.
Black tea is an excellent choice for your morning cup of tea. It pairs well with most breakfast foods, and its higher caffeine content will give you an energy boost to start your day.
We have a wide range of black tea blends to try, from flavored varieties (like Passion Peach or Holiday Spice) to classic Assam, Darjeeling or Ceylon.