Essential Tea Buying Guide and Online Tea Shop for Loose Teas and Tea Wares
What we call Black Tea in the West was first referred to as Red Tea in China. Black Tea is also often mistakenly referred to as “fully oxidized” tea. However, Black Tea is not one-hundred percent oxidized but around ninety percent oxidized.
Picking and Processing: Black Tea is made from the young leaves of the tea plant. The pickings are then either rolled, by hand or mechanically, in order to bruise the leaves. The bruising of the leaves releases the essential oils of the Camellia Sinensis, which react with the light and oxygen in the air, resulting in the oxidation of the tea leaves. Black tea is also exposed to humid and heated environments that enhance the oxidation processing. Steps of processing: Fresh leaves are Picked, Withered, Rolled, Oxidized, and Dried.
Mind and Body: Because of the oxidation process the effects of the tea leaves on the mind and body change. This is why Black tea has different effects to White and Green teas, with which oxidation is carefully avoided. The oxidation of Black tea increases the levels of Xanthines and decreases the levels of Catechins. Catechins are responsible for the metabolic benefits of tea, while the Xanthines, in Black tea, is beneficial for the stimulatory effects of the Xanthine compound Caffeine. Black tea is also a great source of antioxidants. Caffeine levels of Black tea depend highly on many factors regarding the variety of the plant, time of year of picking, and more. Caffeine is also more controlled in Black tea than in coffee due to the calming effects of the tannins.
Flavors: The oxidation of the tea leaves is a key contributor to the flavor of Black tea. During oxidation a category of Polyphenols in tea called Flavonoids are modified. A compound of Flavenoids called Flavanols are converted to Theaflavins and Thearubigins, which create the dark color and rich, robust flavors of Black tea. Flavonols are also considered responsible for properties of antioxidants. The most prominent flavors in Black tea are notes of malt, cocoa, caramel, vanilla sweetness, dried fruits, and deep florals.