Ranging from floral, sweet, and peppery to faintly smoky, black teas are typically enjoyed in China without milk or sugar.

With leaves that have been fully oxidized, black teas are prized for their rich and warm flavors. Full oxidation results in the blackened appearance of its leaves -hence its name in the West. In China, however, black tea is known as “Hong Cha” or “red tea,” for the amber liquid it produces when infused.


Black tea is traditionally grown in China’s Southern provinces and may be harvested throughout the year. After harvest, tea leaves endure several hours of withering and rolling to develop higher levels of oxidation. This creates black tea’s familiar dark and rich nature.

For premium black teas, tea makers select only young tea buds and perform rolling by hand or against bamboo baskets.

Lesser grades may be chopped and torn to effect quicker and stronger results. Long and aggressive rolling creates a robust tea, while lighter treatment produces a black tea with a more delicate profile.


A good quality Chinese black tea, notwithstanding its color,
should be sweet and mild.

Depending on the varietal, a good Chinese black tea should carry hints of caramel, with a mild maltiness for black teas that come out of Yunnan, or aromas of berries and oranges. Most importantly, a black tea should not be astringent, because it is intended to be enjoyed without milk and sugar.

Of all tea types, most people already have preconceived notions for what they think makes for a good quality black tea, but most of these notions are based on years of low grade tea bags over-brewed in the “English Style” (i.e., over-brewed and astringent then doctored with milk and sugar). Consider the possibility of a black tea that requires no milky rescue.

We Recommend

A Delicious Everyday Tea Organic Golden Monkey

Our Favorite this Season Three Cultivar Red

Organic Golden Monkey remains one of our favorite and consistently delicious everyday black teas. But this season, we're most excited about our Three Cultivar Red, crafted from oolong cultivars from the Wuyi Mountains into a black tea.

  • Yinzhen Hong

    Yinzhen Hong

    Our finest and rarest black tea, remarkably crafted from floral white tea buds from Fuding, accented with traditional Wuyi cultivars. Candy sweet and brilliantly aromatic.

    2 oz. for $60.00

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  • Gold Thread Reserve

    Gold Thread Reserve

    A first pick of the Gold Thread. Malty, with notes of orange, raisins, maple syrup and brown sugar. Incredibly smooth and delicious.

    2 oz. for $24.00

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  • Three Cultivar Red

    Three Cultivar Red

    A black tea crafted from two Wuyi cultivars married to a green tea cultivar. One of the most unique black teas we've tasted, with the brightness of green apple and the sweetness of ripe cantaloupe.

    2 oz. for $18.00

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  • Organic Formosa Red, Assam

    Organic Formosa Red, Assam

    The original Assam cultivar planted by the Japanese in the early 20th century. Richer and drier than our other Formosa Reds, with notes of fruit and honey.

    2 oz. for $20.00

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  • Organic Formosa Red, Native Cultivar

    Organic Formosa Red, Native Cultivar

    Indigenous to Taiwan, this is the most floral of our three Organic Formosa Reds. The nose is reminiscent of high mountain oolongs, with layers of honey, rich cream and cognac.

    2 oz. for $20.00

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  • Organic Formosa Red, #18

    Organic Formosa Red, #18

    A black tea that crosses an Assam with a native cultivar indigenous to Taiwan. Notes of bourbon, honey and cream. Our customers insist this tastes like black tea with milk and sugar already added.

    2 oz. for $20.00

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  • Organic Golden Monkey

    Organic Golden Monkey

    A wonderful everyday black tea harvested April from the Wuyi Mountains of Northern Fujian. Red amber color tea that brews sweet, with hint of oven-roasted sweet potato.

    4 oz. for $12.00

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  • Keemun


    A rich breakfast tea, for those who prefer a black tea with a bit more intensity. Hint of smoke, a little honey, a little fruit.

    4 oz. for $12.00

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  • Lapsang Souchong

    Lapsang Souchong

    Dark smoky black tea from Northern Fujian. Wilted and smoked over pine needles, this tea is robust and intense.

    4 oz. for $9.75

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  • Rose Black

    Rose Black

    Black tea scented with aromatic rose petals. The rose imparts an intoxicating aroma to the smoky sweetness of the black tea.

    4 oz. for $9.75

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  • Lychee Black

    Lychee Black

    A light and smooth black tea infused with the intense sweetness of lychee, a fruit found in abundance along the southern coast of China.

    4 oz. for $9.75

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