The tea we’ve come to know and love all originates from the camellia sinensis plant. You’ve probably heard of black, white, green and oolong teas. All of these types of tea have their own regional differences, some processed and fermented differently all together. We’re going to delve into the five types of black tea.
Types of black tea
Black tea is the most popular of the four around the world. There are several different varieties of black tea. Because of these differences, each variety has its own distinct heritage and flavor.
First, the tea leaves go through a drying process. Afterwards, the leaves will be chopped exposing them to more air. This begins the oxidation process.
There are plenty of regional black teas across the globe. We will focus on the five most common forms of black tea.
The Assam Valley is located In northern India. The world’s largest tea-growing region, its eight hundred tea estates produce 150 million pounds of tea annually. Enriched by the floods of the Brahmaputra River as well as the tropical climate, the Camellia sinensis bushes thrive in the Assam Valley.
The different types of Assam leaves are based on their harvest seasons. The harvesting of flush leaves will occur from March to May. This tea is lighter, with a fresh flavor. The second flush is the most plentiful, and the most highly coveted. Harvested from June to September, the second flush is stronger and creamier, sometimes with a spicy flavor.
The beautiful golden tips of the second flush in the late spring will be sweeter. Because of the appearance, it’s affectionately refereed to as ‘tippy golden flowery orange pekoe’, if you really want to impress your friends. The last picking takes place from October to December, this is the winter harvest.
Assam tea is a combination of native Assam plants and Chinese tea. Due to the climate and the nutrient-rich soil, Assam tea has a full-bodied, robust, and malty flavor. You should steep Assam tea for three to four minutes. Most tea drinkers take milk and or sugar with this type of black tea.
Darjeeling tea is the most elite type of black tea. Nicknamed ‘The Champagne of Teas’, its flavor has a reputation that exceeds itself. Growing takes place in the hilly areas of the Darjeeling district of West Bengal, India. The humid and misty climate aides well in the tender character of this tea. Darjeeling leaves come exclusively from one of only eighty-six tea estates.
Darjeeling is a coveted and expensive tea, with only 22 million pounds produced annually. As a result, The Tea Board of India issued a special logo in 1983 for consumers to differentiate between true Darjeeling and its counterfeits. There are four types of Darjeeling tea, classified by their harvesting seasons.
The Easter Flush, harvested in March and April, produces a lighter colored, brisk-flavored tea. The Spring Flush, from May to June, yields an amber-colored tea with a fruity, mellow taste and a stronger muscatel (grape) flavor. July to September’s Summer Flush produces the strongest tea. The Autumn Flush from October to November makes for a copper-colored tea with a delicate taste. As you can see, this is a delicate type of black tea with a lot of interesting characteristics.
You should steep Darjeeling tea for three to five minutes. Afterwards, milk and sugar are optional and sometimes preferred. A tall glass of ice and a slice of lemon make Darjeeling a great iced tea as well.
Ceylon tea variety
Ceylon tea comes from Sri Lanka, formerly called Ceylon. This type of black tea grows in Sri Lanka, and has ever since 1867. A devastating fungus will destroy the nation’s prosperous coffee crops in 1869, causing the estates turned to tea. Sri Lanka’s mountainous terrain means that growing occurs in a variety of altitudes. As a result, there are many different flavors of Ceylon.
There are six main regions of tea estates, and thus, six main varieties of Ceylon tea: Dimbula, Galle, Nuwara Ellya, Uva, Ratnapura, and Kandy. The most sought after Celyon teas are growing in higher elevation regions.
Similar to Darjeeling, Ceylon teas now have an exclusive logo, cautiously distributed by the Sri Lanka Tea Board. This it to identify those tea leaves truly grown and packed in Sri Lanka. Ceylon tea is harvested by hand, using only the bud and two youngest leaves of the plant. Best when brewed loose-leaf, milk and sugar are welcome additions to Ceylon teas.
Lapsang Souchong tea
Lapsang Souchong tea is from the Fujian province of China. Cedar fires help to wither dark leaves with golden tips. This type of black tea is fully oxidized before it is dried one step further in bamboo baskets over burning pine. This process results in its distinct smoky aroma and its bold, sweet flavor.
Lapsang Souchong tea has two well-known legends. In one story, the workers at a Qing dynasty tea factory found themselves rushed to send some tea leaves to market. To hurry the drying process, they lit fires of pine wood and dried the leaves over them. The smoky tea leaves were an unanticipated success.
Another legend says that as tea leaves were taken from China to Moscow, a journey which often lasts an entire year, they absorbed the nightly campfire smoke. Because of this story, some refer to Lapsang Souchong as ‘Russian Caravan Tea’. An amber-red tea, Lapsang Souchong is one of the strongest varieties, and is often called a “man’s tea.” It is said to compliment spicy or salty foods.
Nilgiri tea variety
This variety of black tea is grown in the Nilgiri region of southern India. It’s grown in the Blue Mountains. As a result the high altitude and abundant rainfall help to produce a tea that is robust, smooth, and brisk.
Nilgiri tea is one of the most distinctive tasting teas with a notably cirtus taste. As opposed to rolling the leaves in the oxidation process, the leaves are crushed, torn, and curled.This process is known as CTC. This method, developed during World War II, allows for more tea to be packed into teabags. Steeping should take place for three to four minutes, with milk or tea as desired. It makes a good iced tea, and is often used in chai blends.
The Many Types of Black Tea
With so many different varieties of black tea, the choices are nearly endless. From bold and smoky to light and fruity, each black tea has its own flavor and its own individual allure. With this information at your fingertips, you can start sourcing out the right variety of black tea to suit your tastes! What types of black tea have you sampled?