A fully oxidized tea, black tea is produced in Kenya and many Asian countries, including Sri Lanka, China, and India. Much of the world’s black tea is grown for the tea bag industry, and it is often mixed with other types of tea to make blends, such as breakfast and afternoon, which are enhanced by the addition of milk and/or sugar. The Chinese refer to black teas as “red teas” because of the color of the liquid. Black teas are brisk, malty, full-bodied, and bracing because of the rich flavors that develop during the oxidation process.
Black tea is the most well-known tea in the western world. Familiarity with black tea usually begins with tea-bag tea and famous blends, such as English
Breakfast. This familiarity might lead us to expect the same character from all black teas, but there are many varieties with complex flavors and characteristics. Black tea is fully oxidized, its polyphenols having converted to thearubigins (color) and theaflavonoids (flavor). Heftier varieties, such as Assam, can be complemented with milk and/or sugar, but it is better to taste a delicate tea, such as a first flush Darjeeling, in its natural state, before deciding to add anything. Historically, most premium black tea is produced
in India or Sri Lanka, but owing to its growing popularity among the Chinese, black tea production is set to increase in that region.
Tea shown here: First flush Darjeeling, from Darjeeling, India
Measure: 2 tsp for 3⁄4 cup water
Water Temperature: 210°F (100°C)
Infusion: Steep for 2 minutes. Some whole-leaf black teas, such as Darjeeing or Chinese black teas, may be infused a second time. For these, add 1–2 minutes to the infusion time.
(details from The Tea Book: Linda Gaylard)