Black tea is the most widely consumed tea in the Western world. Enjoyed both hot and over ice, this robust, savory beverage ranges from flowery and fruity to spicy and nutty.
This favored tea features a deep reddish-brown hue and full-bodied taste that results from an extensive oxidation process once the leaves of the tea plant, Camellia sinensis, are harvested. The leaves may be blended with fruits, flower petals, or natural flavorings to add a unique taste to the brew.
After picking, the leaves go through a withering process where they are dried on racks for up to 18 hours until all excess moisture is removed and the leaves become supple enough to roll.
They are then rolled and cooled, which breaks down the membranes of the leaves and creates a chemical change that allows the natural juices to emerge – and the leaves to darken.
Finally, the tea leaves are "fired" and heat is applied to halt further oxidation and seal in the distinctive flavor and aroma.
Types and Taste
Following are some common types of black teas and the tastes with which they are associated.
Flavonoids, which are highly concentrated in black varieties of tea, have been associated with a number of health benefits that include reduced the risk of stroke and heart disease.
There are research studies that link flavanoids, which are present in all blends, to lowering cholesterol levels, reducing inflammations, improving blood flow, and even helping the body maintain proper blood sugar levels.
According to the USDA flavonoid database, both black and green tea contain 150 to 190 milligrams of flavonoids per cup. They also provide trace amounts of healthful minerals such as potassium and fluoride.
More than 90% of the world's teas can be found on grocery store shelves, specialty tea shops, restaurants, and gourmet food outlets.
The invention of the tea bag in the early 1900s is said to contribute significantly to the popularity and consumption of tea.