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