BLACK TEA: MEANING, HISTORY, HEALTH BENEFITS, PROCESSING
Black tea is the strongest, boldest, and most assertive of all the other categories.
The liquor has a more intense flavor and aroma than any other tea type.
The larger leaves of the plant, blackened due to processing and handling, unfurl gradually with calm in the boiling water.
WHAT IS BLACK TEA?
Like all other true teas, it comes from the Camellia sinensis plant.
The difference between green, black, oolong, white teas is more about the method of processing and oxidation.
They are fully oxidized, intentionally turned into completely brown with no trace of green color.
The oxidized and blacked tea leaves produce much darker liquor with a more robust flavor than other teas.
This darker liquor with a very bold tasting tea is considered black tea.
THE HISTORY OF THE BLACK TEA
By the end of the Ming dynasty (1368-1644), tea drinking tea began to slowly capture the west.
In 1640, Dutch traders introduced tea to society contributors in the Hague and the Dutch embraced Chinese tea.
In England, tea became a national obsession that was over time, enjoyed by all citizens. Fully oxidized black tea became the favourite tea among all the European tea drinkers.
The first black tea Lapsang Souchong is thought to be an accident and attempt to rectify a mistake or a bit of unpleasantness with soldiers passing through the area. Lapsang souchong is well known for its smokiness.
HEALTH BENEFITS OF BLACK TEA
Tea has 5000 years of history as a medicinal herb. Tea has many healing properties.
In ancient China, the bitter tonic from boiled tea leaves was recommended for treating specific illnesses.
Black tea may have some similar benefits to green tea. However many studies have specifically looked at black tea and its potential health benefits.
Here are some possible health benefits of black tea.
- It has anti-inflammatory properties.
- Hydrates the body – with fewer tannins than green tea, black tea is less bitter.
- Strengthens the immune system with rich antioxidants.
- Stimulates metabolism, giving more energy.
- Improves oral health, and may reduce the risk of oral cancer.
- Improves mental focus and concentration.
- Aids digestion
HOW BLACK TEA IS PROCESSED
The withering cycle begins when the tea is picked and brought to the factory.
The tea leaves are stacked in deeper piles, revealing them to less air for as long as 18 hours.
Once the leaves are significantly withered then they are rolled. The remaining moisture is gradually released during rolling, shaping, oxidation, firing, and drying until the tea is dry enough to package.
The rolling helps shape the leaf, forming its unique character and preserving the whole leaf.
Oxidation is important in developing the full potential flavor of black tea. The oxidation process removes a lot of moisture from the leaves and builds the character and flavor of the tea. Controlling humidity and temperature is crucial to the oxidation process.
While oxidation helps leaves to remove the moisture, there is still water in leaves that must be removed in the final drying stage.
Once the tea leaves are fully dried, the leaves are sorted before the tea is finally packaged.