Before I really got into tea, I never stopped to think what the different types were made of. The main types of teas that Westerners drink are black, green, white and oolong teas. I had thought each come from a different plant, but I was clearly wrong. All four teas are made from the camellia sinensis plant. However, the difference is in how the leaves are processed to determine the type of tea it creates. In this four part series, I will focus on each type of tea to give an understanding of what they are.
Today I am starting our series with black tea. Aside from green tea, black tea is the most popular type of camellia sinensis tea. In order to make black tea, green leaves are pulled from the camellia sinensis plant. The leaves are partially dried, then rolled to release juices and enzymes for an oxidation process. During this process the flavor and color of black tea is created. Finally, hot air is used to destroy the enzymes and stabilize the leaves.
Although the taste, strength, and color vary depending on the time of harvest, elevation, origin and degree of oxidation, most black tea have a rich robust flavor. For this reason, milk is often added to lessen the boldness of black tea.
The preparation for each type of tea has different parameters. Black tea tastes best with water heated at a roiling boil of 212 degrees and steeped 3-5 minutes.
Finally, black tea health benefits include reducing cholesterol and blood sugar levels, help against heart disease, lower blood pressure, and reduce the risk of stroke. Most black teas contain caffeine, which helps with alertness and focus.
Now you know more about black tea. Up next is green tea!