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.
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.