Black Tea,” as it’s called in the West, is known as “Hong Cha” or “Red Tea” in Asia, due to its dark reddish infusion color and dark colored dried tea leaves covered with reddish-orange pekoe. At the outset of the tea trade, green teas could not “survive” the long voyage to Europe. Being oxidized, black tea made for a more chest-stable and seaworthy product. Carried in tea chests, black teas rapidly traveled around the globe, expanded in popularity and today it is no surprise that they are most well traveled type of tea in the world.
Unlike green tea processing, which attempts to preserve the green color of fresh tea leaves, black tea processing encourages fresh tea leaves to oxidize and change color from green to coppery red. This change in leaf color during processing is referred to as oxidation. The basic steps of black tea processing are picking, withering, tumbling, rolling, oxidation and drying.
In order to encourage oxidation black teas are rolled to bruise the leaves during processing. After rolling, black teas are arranged in shallow piles and left to rest while oxidation occurs. The pace at which oxidation occurs is controlled by the ambient temperature and humidity in the oxidation room. Both of these factors are an important in the flavor development of black tea.
Origins of Black Tea
Altitude is an important indicator of the essential character of black teas. Low elevation farms tend to produce more malty and full-bodied black teas, whereas high elevation gardens often yield brisk black teas with floral or fruity aromatics.
Join our Himalaya travels in Darjeeling where Joshua and crew vist the Golden Valley and Chamong Estate to discover the magical origins of Darjeeling Black Tea.
Today, black teas are grown in all major tea regions, especially in India, Sri Lanka, China, Southeast Asia and Africa. This range of landscapes and growing climates creates a diverse collection of regional flavor profiles to explore.