Tea Type
Black Tea
Loose leaves of black tea.

Black Tea

Black tea (also called red tea) is a highly oxidized type of tea. It is higher oxidized than Oolong, yellow, white and green tea giving the leaves a dark color and the brew a strong flavor.

The tea has its origin in East and Southeast Asia, with both the variety sinensis and assamica being used to make it.

The western term black tea refers to the color of the oxidized leaves. Black tea is known as hong cha in Chinese which translates to red tea. It was named red tea because of the color of the liquid. Black tea should not be confused with dark tea which is a post-fermented tea called Hei Cha in Chinese which translates to black tea.

Table of Contents
Loose leaves of black tea.



After harvesting, the leaves are withered by blowing air on them.


Teas are rolled and processed either with the orthodox method or with a method called Cut, tea, curl (CTC).

The orthodox processing is done by machines or manually, depending on the quality of the tea. It produces high-quality loose leaf teas that have been rolled by hand or mechanically with a cylindrical rolling table or rotovane.

The Cut, tear, curl (CTC) method produces fannings and dust leaf grades commonly used in tea bags, as well as higher broken leaf grades. The CTC method is an efficient and effective method to produce better quality tea from medium to low quality leaves. Leaves are crushed, cut into fragments and curled into very fine particles.


Oxidation can take place over 6 hours resulting in heavily or fully oxidized leaves. It turns leaves dark and changes the flavor. It can be controlled by air flow, conveyor belts and temperature to produce the desired flavor.


Leaves are dried with heat to end the oxidation process.


Leaves are typically sorted with sieves into grades (whole leaves, broken leaves, fannings, and dust).

Styles & Blends


  • Assam — A full bodied, strong and distinctively malty black tea from Assam in India.
  • Darjeeling — A thin bodied tea with fruity tones that are defined by notes of muscatel from Darjeeling, India.
  • Ceylon — A black tea from Sri Lanka, which is refreshing and crisp in flavor.
  • Lapsang Souchong — One of the highest grade black teas in China made by drying leaves over burning pine, which develops a strong smoky flavor.
  • Dian Hong — A black tea with dark malty notes and golden bud leaves from Yunnan, China.


  • English Breakfast — Blend of black teas originating from Assam, Ceylon and Kenya and usually drank with milk and sugar.
  • Earl Grey — Black tea flavored with bergamot oil. Traditionally made with Keemun tea, nowadays often made with Ceylon tea.
Further Reading
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