Black Tea Varieties

While black teas are made from the same Camellia sinensis plant as all teas, the oxidation and processing is what distinguishes black teas from the rest. Premium black teas are withered, rolled, oxidized and fired in an oven, creating a warm and toasty flavor. The lengthier oxidation process causes the tea leaves to develop into dark brown and black colors. The flavors can range from malty or smokey to fruity and sweet. Black teas range from mellow teas from China to full-bodied teas from Assam, India. Looking for new teas to try? Check out our tea collections for more.

  • All Black Teas

    All Black Teas

    Black teas are the ones we are most familiar and comfortable with – the teas we drank in our youth. We source only premium black teas from China, and fine tea estates around the world that produce British Legacy Teas. You'll discover many black tea blends to choose from, some flavored and some not. Milk or sugar? That's your choice.

  • Flavored Black Teas

    Flavored Black Teas

    Our flavored teas are some of the most popular teas we carry, at all times of the year. Everyone just loves the way that our smooth flavors meld with the background taste of tea.

  • Assam Black Teas

    Assam Black Teas

    Assam is India's largest producer of tea, and the broad flood plains make for some of the most fertile tea estates in the world. 

  • Black Tea Blends

    Black Tea Blends

    Since 1983 we have worked to create fine tea blends, each one with a story all its own. 

  • Ceylon Black Teas

    Ceylon Black Teas

    Ceylon teas can brew up light and bright like Lover's Leap, or substantial like Kenilworth Garden. Ceylons make perfect afternoon teas and can handle milk and sugar.

  • Chinese Black Teas

    Chinese Black Teas

    Tea started in China, thus China has a large variety of black teas. From the honey twinge of Golden Monkey and the Panyang teas to the chocolate of Keemuns and the turgid smokiness of Lapsang Souchong, these teas have a range and character all their own.

  • Darjeeling Black Teas

    Darjeeling Black Teas

    The light and brisk First Flush teas focus your attention. While the darker teas of the later seasons are more mellow and often have wonderful flavors.

  • Decaf Black Teas

    Decaf Black Teas

    Relax and enjoy these favorite decaf black teas anytime. Though they've had their caffeine removed, their full flavor remains.

  • Teas from Other Regions

    Teas from Other Regions

    Nowadays tea is coming from more than the "Usual Suspects." Please explore these teas from Africa, Indonesia, Southern India and Vietnam.

Black Tea Origins

The most common perception of black tea as something that puckers our mouths, requiring milk and sugar to soften and soothe it, comes from black tea leaves grown in South Asia. Despite the ancient origins of white and green teas in China, black tea is a fairly new discovery, with beginnings dating back to only the 1700’s. The Chinese traditionally give a more mellow flavor, compared to the British Legacy Teas, with which the black tea flavor profile is most commonly associated. These varieties, including Darjeeling and Ceylon, are grown, oxidized, and rolled across India.

Please click on the diagram to view a larger version.

Black Tea Origins
How to Brew Black Tea

How To Brew Black Tea

  1. Preheat a teapot by pouring boiling water into it, raising the temperature of the teapot to at least 180°.
  2. Discard the water. In your teapot, or filter, add 1 teaspoon of loose tea for each cup of tea you're brewing.
  3. Pour fresh boiling water over the tea or tea bag. This super-saturates the tea, allowing the perfect extraction of the flavor.
  4. The water temperature should be 210°F (99°C), just under the boiling point. Let the tea steep for a full 5 minutes.
  5. Pour the tea through a strainer into the cups.

Black Tea Brewing Temperature

Black teas taste best when brewed between 205° and 212° Fahrenheit. If you bring your water past the boiling point, you risk scorching the tea. Our wide offering of unique black tea blends results in different optimal temperatures, so it’s best to experiment to find the best temperature range. You can use electric water-dispensing pots to heat water to exact temperatures, or you can insert instant-read thermometers to check water temperature prior to pouring over your black tea leaves.

Black Tea Brewing Temperature
Black Tea Brewing Time

Black Tea Brewing Time

Black tea leaves should steep for at least 4-5 minutes, as a general rule. However, each batch and each drinker’s palate will dictate the proper brewing time. Observing both the tea liquor and body will help you gauge whether you have brewed your tea for the correct amount of time.

If you’re looking for a stronger cup of tea, it’s best to increase the amount of tea used instead of increasing the brewing time.