Tea 101 What's Black Tea

what's black tea

Tea has over 6 varieties and black tea is the most popular tea type drunk world wide. Its aroma and bold flavors are the reasons people love it. You can use it to make hot, iced, cocktail, spices, or home remedy. 

What is Black Tea? Black tea is the English translation while Chinese still call it Red Tea. So called black tea outside of China probably refers to its deep dark dry tea leaf color. Technically, black tea refers to the tea that is fully oxidized. It is defined by its manufacturing process, liquid color and the leaf color after brew. Generally,

  • Black tea has bright reddish liquid color. 
  • Its leaf after brew has dark brown-reddish color evenly distributed
  • Fresh dry black tea leaves come with deep dark brown-reddish color with brightness. 

Legend goes that Black tea was invented in Fu Jian province in China by accident (there's no accident in life, really). It was called originally Kung Fu Red Tea (工夫红茶)。 Kung Fu in Chinese has few meanings:

  • Time-few minutes to hours or generally time
  • Time consuming process-require time and efforts to make it happen
  • Talented, gifted
  • Same as Martial art (功夫)

 It was called Kung Fu Red Tea because its manufacturing process is very time consuming and requires special techniques make it perfect,as compared to green tea. 

The story goes tea farmers in Fu Jian, China were ready for tea harvesting in Spring. At that time, there were wars after wars, both locally and national wide. People couldn't have peaceful life. As usual, fresh leaves were hand picked, but suddenly the Chinese Emperor required all men in the village fight for the nation. This left tea farmers desperate: piles of fresh tea leaves were sitting there for days with no people processing it. Spring time in Fu Jian is very warm and humid. Fresh tea leaves started changing color. Some went bad. What was surprising tho was those leaves changed colors came out with wonderful aroma-sweet, flowery, and bold, very different from green tea they normally processed. In other words, tea farmers didn't have to dump all the tea leaves harvested. Instead, they could make it something completely new and sell it locally. Black tea was born!! Tea farmers started testing the black tea idea and perfected the manufacturing process over the next few decades. 

In modern time, companies create a big varieties of black tea, such as small batch orthodox black tea, blended black tea with other herbs, black flowering tea, etc. 

What's your favorite black tea? Share in comments below. 

Photo credit: Everett Kennedy Brown/European Pressphoto Agency 

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