Ultimate Guide to Black Tea: Find Out What Makes This Type of Tea So Popular

ultimate guide to black tea

Why is black tea so popular among tea drinkers? (Actually, even to those who are not.) 

What makes black tea so desirable is its strong taste and long shelf life, as well as the numerous health benefits that come with it. It's also unique for having a lot of tea varieties and versions that people, having varying tastes as well, can enjoy. Black tea also has a rich history and an interesting origin that definitely makes it a veteran among tea beverages. These characteristics are the very reasons why drinking black tea is considered to be popular. 

If you still don't believe us, then read on. This blog post will dive into all things black tea! 

What is black tea?

authentic black tea made from dried black tea leaves 

Black tea is a genuine type of tea that comes from the Camellia Sinensis plant. It's one of the most beloved ones in Western culture. Interestingly enough, black tea is also quite useful for being the basis for other types of tea such as earl grey tea and English breakfast tea. Black tea also has a reputation for having a strong, bold taste which makes it an even richer tea drink compared to other popular ones like green tea. And also, black tea does not shy away from providing quite a number of health benefits. Lots of individuals add drinking black tea to their "healthy" lifestyle practices. 

Where did black tea originate from? 

Black tea is believed to have originated from the land of China during the mid-17th century. Although both black tea and green tea were pretty popular in those areas and times, black tea was reportedly able to retain its freshness and flavors better than the other. This was especially important among travelers who drank the teas whilst being on their long journeys. Furthermore, black tea was also fermented, dried, and pressed into bricks to be used as a form of currency during the earliest days of the border trade between China and its neighboring countries. 

Soon enough, the reputation of black tea made its way to Europe. In fact, it was the first type of tea to have been introduced to Europe and the Middle East. Black tea became a huge commercial success, causing most of its production in China to be exported out of the country. As time passed by, the black tea fever spread into other countries in the world including India, Kenya, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Brazil, Indonesia, and many more. 

How is black tea being made? 

process of making dried black tea leaves

The process of making the black tea doesn't just go one way. In fact, there are two important ways on how to create this magnificent tea:

  • There's a method of creating the black tea called orthodox. Here, the black tea leaves must be left whole or at least partially broken during the processing. The black tea leaves are being dried to reduce moisture and then rolled into many ways to bruise them and start the oxidation process. As the black tea leaves are being oxidized, their color transitions into a darkish brown, and this also causes black tea's signature bold taste to come out. The black tea leaves are then fired to apply heat which stops the oxidation process. Lastly, the black tea leaves are being graded for quality. This is considered to be the more time-consuming method of making black tea. 
  • The sped-up process of creating black tea, the non-orthodox or crush-tear-curl (CTC) process involves cutting the black tea leaves into pieces instead of rolling them. The smaller pieces of the black tea leaves are being oxidized to produce a consistently strong and bold taste. The cut pieces of the black leaves are then put into commercial tea bags.  

What does black tea taste like? 

a woman having a taste of black tea

In general, black tea has stronger, bolder, and richer flavors compared to green tea. Its taste may range from savory to downright sweet, depending on how much the black tea leaves were oxidized and how much heat was processed into it. Black tea naturally has a more concentrated and bitter taste compared to green tea, but if you brew it properly, it will surely encompass your tastebuds smoothly with its flavorful quality. However, there are many other ways to describe the taste of black tea. Indeed, it's no basic tea. Its taste can be quite complex, with descriptions of it moving along the lines of smoky, malty, spiced, earthy, leathery, and fruity. Of course, we will also have to consider the ingredients that we add to it. 

What are the black tea varieties? 

types of black tea in spoons

Just like its flavor, black tea is also quite versatile when it comes to its versions. Many types of black tea have been created in the countries that have become so popular. Check them out below: 

  • Chinese black tea: This is the one we've mentioned above. It's also known as fermented or dark tea. This one also involves the normal way of processing the black tea leaves. Funnily enough, despite black tea's popularity global-wise, people in China are more into the consumption of green tea. 
  • Assam black tea: Assam is the largest tea-growing region in India, hence the name. The Assam black tea contains bold and malty characteristics that make it an ideal beverage to pair with milk and sugar. 
  • Ceylon black tea: The country of Sri Lanka has grown very fond of black tea that comprises most of their tea production and export. This version of the black tea, also known as Ceylon, can be quite strong with hints of spice. It's definitely the type of tea with a bit of a kick, to put it simply. 
  • English black tea: Also known as an English breakfast tea, this version is considered to be a traditional blend of black teas. This is why English black tea is a much stronger tea compared to some green teas or herbal teas. 
  • Darjeeling black tea: This version of the black tea also comes from India, particularly its mountainous region. Darjeeling is a much softer and milder version of black tea, often used as the tea base for the popular spiced beverage called black Chai tea
  • Earl grey tea: This is a popular British drink that uses black tea as its base. It's often considered a type of tea on its own, falling under the category of flavored teas. However, it's technically a type of black tea that's delightfully blended with citrus oil and flavors. 

What are the black tea health benefits? 

a woman drinking black tea for its health benefits

Black tea isn't just amazing because of its unique taste and blends, it's also commendable for the health benefits it can bring. Drinking black tea seems to be essential in maintaining a healthy lifestyle.

Check out the black tea health benefits below: 

1. Loaded with antioxidants

This again? We know plenty of other teas have this, but being rich in antioxidants is just an important benefit to mention. The antioxidants in black tea may help protect us from free radical damage. If we allow the damage to our free radicals to happen, we will be at risk of developing chronic diseases such as heart ailments, diabetes, and cancer. Drinking black tea will provide us with the protection and nutrients that we need to shield ourselves from viruses and microbes that try to penetrate our system. 

2. Improves skin and hair health

Did you know that black tea might also help improve your looks? Drinking black tea reportedly can help protect your skin from infections and blemishes. It is also helpful in reducing signs of aging as well as puffiness. Additionally, black tea also contains properties that empower the rejuvenation of our skin cells. 

Black tea isn't just a vital tool in improving skin health, it's also great for our hair! The caffeine in it is said to reduce premature hair loss (no need to worry anymore about sweeping the floor every after you comb your hair). Meanwhile, its antioxidants help promote much healthier and shinier hair! 

3. Promotes good digestion

Some have experienced a much better digestive flow, thanks to black tea. There are tannins found in black tea which are responsible for smoothening the intestinal activity and aiding in proper digestion. This makes black tea an ideal drink for those suffering from chronic stomach-related disorders. It might also help prevent digestive issues like diarrhea, irritable bowel syndrome, bloating, and others. 

4. Boosts immune system

It's important to strengthen our immune system all the time to fight off common diseases and bacteria that can make us sick. Black tea also seems to share the same sentiment, with its tannin and antigen content being able to help increase our immunity. Other than drinking Vitamin C and exercising, keep yourself strong by drinking black tea now and then. 

5. Caffeine buzz (without the negative side effects)

Caffeine is vital to boosting our energy, especially at work. If you want to get some caffeine in your system but don't want to experience its negative side effects, black tea would be a good choice for you. Black tea is the most caffeinated type of tea that you can still enjoy without getting your stomach upset or your head aching (unlike what coffee sometimes does). Black tea can help alert both your body and mind, giving you the energy you need for a hard day's work. 

6. Lowers stress levels 

Stress is one of the most common issues we deal with in our day-to-day life. If you're looking to let off some steam, black tea might help. It contains properties that can aid in lowering the stress hormones that our body produces throughout the day. It might be more effective if you consume it more frequently. 

What are the side effects of black tea? 

taking precautions on drinking black tea

Black tea is amazing for having so many health benefits. It's indeed a vital drink in our lives. However, let's not forget that it has risks too. Keep in mind the listed factors below to ensure whether or not drinking this type of tea would be good or safe enough for you. 

Causing anemia

We've repeatedly mentioned that black contains tannins. A study revealed that tannin-rich foods may be a good source of antioxidants, however, they may also reduce the body's ability to absorb iron. Because of this, people living with iron deficiency are advised to avoid the consumption of black tea especially while in the middle of taking iron supplements or eating iron-rich meals. 

Caffeine crash 

Although caffeine has notable benefits to the mind and body, it also has its downsides. People who are sensitive to caffeine should refrain from drinking black tea to avoid experiencing symptoms like insomnia, anxiety, irritability, or an upset stomach. This can happen especially when drinking tea in large doses. Too much caffeine intake might also lead to other health issues like headaches, irregular heartbeat, diarrhea, heightened or lowered blood sugar levels, high blood pressure, and others. 

Is black tea safe for pregnant women? 

Teas that contain caffeine are not really deemed safe for pregnant women or expectant mothers to drink. Caffeine may easily cross the placenta and the baby inside you do not have a liver mature enough to break it down. Infants are more likely to experience the side effects of caffeine in amounts that are typically safe for adults. Research states that babies that are overly exposed to caffeine during pregnancy have a higher risk of being born preterm or with birth defects. 

How to prepare black tea properly 

preparing black tea using dried black tea leaves

Before you indulge in the goodness and richness of black tea, you must first learn how to prepare it properly.

Ingredients: 

  • 1 teaspoon dried black tea leaves 
  •  250 ml fresh water (pure filtered water)

Directions:

  • Scoop 1 teaspoon of the dried black tea leaves. Although you may use commercial tea bags, making use of actual tea leaves might give you a more authentic experience. 
  • Steep the black tea leaves in 100 °C water for 3 to 5 minutes. Remember, the longer you steep the tea, the more it will release bitterness and astringency. Just taste your tea after steeping it in the recommended steeping time. If it's not to your liking, you may steep it longer. 
  • Remove the black tea leaves and enjoy your freshly brewed tea! 

What are the recipes for black tea? 

There are lots of fun and creative ways to make black tea. It depends on your taste or mood on how you want to go about it. But to help you decide, here are some of the best recipes for black tea that you can try to do at home: 

1. Iced English Tea Latte

iced black latte recipe

Ingredients: 

  • 2 teaspoons dried black tea leaves 
  • 1 1/2 cups whole milk (or milk of your choice)
  • Sugar or honey (or sweetener of your choice)

Directions:

  1. Heat and stir the milk.. 
  2. Pour the tea into the milk. Steep for 10 mins. 
  3. Remove tea leaves. 
  4. Let it cool for 30 mins.
  5. Cover and refrigerate the tea.
  6. Serve with ice and enjoy! 

2. Lemon Black Tea with Cinnamon

black tea with cinnamon and lemon recipe

Ingredients:

  • 1 tablespoon dried black tea leaves
  • 6 cups water
  • 1 lemon (thinly sliced) 
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • Sugar (or sweetener of your choice) 

Directions:

  1. Add the tea leaves, lemon slices, and cinnamon stick to a teapot. 
  2. Pour hot water into the teapot and over the ingredients. 
  3. Let it steep for 5 minutes. 
  4. Strain the tea leaves and serve the tea with lemon slices for garnish. 

3. Ginger Lemon Black Tea 

black tea with ginger and lemon recipe

Ingredients:

  • 2 teaspoons Assam black tea leaves 
  • 2 cups water 
  • 1 lemon (juiced)
  • 1-inch ginger (grated)
  • Honey to taste (optional)

Directions: 

  1. Start heating the water using a saucepan on medium heat. 
  2. When the water boils, add the grated ginger and Assam black tea leaves. 
  3. After another minute of boiling, add the lemon juice and keep the saucepan covered. 
  4. Strain the tea into teacups. 
  5. Add honey to taste. (optional)
  6. Serve and enjoy!

Want to have the best black tea experience? 

Black tea is indeed one of the best beverages in the world. Its strong and bold flavors definitely leave a mark, but so do its health benefits. It's also a great tea to blend with many ingredients, depending on what suits your taste for the day. 

If you ever need top-quality and genuine black tea leaves, you can try our Spiced Masala Chai Tea (that's made from Assam black tea) or our special version of the English Breakfast Tea (100% Australian-grown). They're both infused with natural ingredients that would surely provide you with a memorable black tea experience. 

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