Is this the right one for me or not? Will I love it or hate it? That looks good but so does this one? Spoilt for choice, don’t know your pick yet? No, we’re not talking about your dating life or the show “The Bachelor” or your desert choice or your shoe collection. This is all about the multi-faceted world of tea choices. After water, tea is the most popular drink in the world, so it makes sense to break down the fascinating varieties available.
For the consummate tea lover, some zero in on their favorites and stay loyal to that brew. For those dipping their toes into the world of tea-drinking, the bewildering varieties can confuse and delight. Settling on any one type of tea can be impossible. For the adventurous lover of teas, the endless possibilities enchant and fascinate. No matter which category you fall into, there is no question there is something for everybody. We will be taking you on a journey of discovery in a series of posts so you can settle on your perfect cuppa! Tea -drinking is a lifestyle choice and make no mistake, it is all about you!
We begin our dating journey with the classic Black Tea – bold, dark and self-assured!
Most people know this tea and in all honestly, it’s likely your first introduction to tea. Some might even think it too common but dig a little deeper – there are hidden facets to uncover.
Black tea is also a “true tea”, what is that all about, you say? Well! The tea world can be snobby. There are few “true teas”, and this is because of where it comes from – the Camellia sinensis plant, known commonly as the tea plant. Remember in our first post titled “Legend of Tea”, we talked about the discovery of tea and Emperor Shen Nung and how it came into existence.
True teas are few, but include green tea, white tea and oolong tea. They are all derived from the Camellia sinensis tea plant which is an evergreen plant that grows in a host of climates, thus lending different flavors to each unique brew.
Black tea is made from Camellia Sinesis but there are different processing methods which impact its taste. Leaves of the plant are crushed, curled, rolled, or torn and then left to oxidize before they’re dried and sold. Their rich dark brown or burnt red color and bold taste comes from the leaves being fully oxidized. The health benefits are numerous, and we’ll talk about those shortly. Usually, black tea is sold as blends which impact the flavor profile. Popular varieties of black teas are grown in some of the most well-known tea growing nations in the world: China, India, Sri Lanka, or Nepal etc. By a wide margin, black tea is the most popular tea in the West and in the US, in 2019 about 84% of all tea consumed was black tea, 15% was green Tea, and the small remaining amount was oolong, white and dark tea
- Assam black tea, which has a malt-like flavor
- Ceylon black tea, which features bold flavor with hints of chocolate or spices
- Darjeeling, which is a more delicate form of black tea that features fruity or floral elements
- Earl Grey, which consists of black tea flavored with bergamot and/or citrus
- English Breakfast, which tends to be full-bodied and may most closely resemble Assam or Ceylon black tea in flavor
- Flavored blends with fruity or floral profiles, such as lychee or rose
- Irish Breakfast, which has a reddish color and malty flavor
- Kenyan black tea, which features a dark, slightly astringent profile
- Lapsang Souchong, which is distinguished by its smoky flavor
- Masala Chai tea, which is blended with a variety of spices such as cardamom, cloves, and peppercorns
- Yunnan black tea, which is chocolatey, malty, and perhaps spicy
The major health benefits of black tea include its nutritional value, heart health, anti-cancer benefits, digestive benefits, oral health, stress relief and not to mention the beneficial effects on skin and hair health – quite a lot in there to unpack in this particular cuppa tea!
If you’re looking to expand your tea-drinking palate, starting with a member of the “true tea” club might not be such a bad idea – and launching your love of tea with the bold, classic flavor of black tea might yet make you swoon!