You are currently browsing the category archive for the ‘Tea – Black’ category.

Forget politics, religion, taxes, and other topics that are typically the subject of debates around the water cooler (such as why that line backer made that move in the second half of the first quarter of that football game). The debate over whether Orthodox style tea is better than CTC style tea is popping up more and more. Some tea drinkers just scratch their heads and wonder what these tea types are and the real differences between them.

Orthodox on the left and CTC on the right. (Photo by A.C. Cargill, all rights reserved)

Orthodox on the left and CTC on the right. (Photo by A.C. Cargill, all rights reserved)

Orthodox teas are usually harvested and processed by hand to get intact, whole leaves – small, young tea leaves plucked from the tips of the tea bush – but some may be harvested and processed by machine. The basic processing involves four steps. Withering where leaves are spread out on long metal troughs in a shaded area for about 14-20 hours, letting moisture evaporate so they become limp and pliable and can be rolled without damage. Rolling where the leaves go through a press that rolls over them while rotating them around to release chemicals stored in their cells, thus beginning the oxidation process (the highest grades are done by hand while large-scale production of lower grades use a machine). Oxidation (started during rolling) where the leaves are laid out 2-4 hours in a humidity/temperature-controlled room, allowing the air to react with chemicals released during rolling and turn the leaves to reddish-brown, then black (too long will cause the tea will be strong and lose its subtlety, while too short will not let the complex flavors fully develop). Firing of the leaves is done on a conveyor belt that moves through a charcoal fire heater, halting oxidation and drying them, at around 220-250° F for 20-40 minutes after which the leaves are sorted by leaf grade by a machine that shakes them over varying gauges of mesh that sifts by size. The largest pieces may be hand-sorted to assure consistent size and therefore steeping time. Young, whole leaf teas are generally higher priced than the broken leaf grade.

Orthodox teas are graded from Golden Tip (highest grade comprised of mainly the best quality tips from the stems of the tea bush Camellia Sinensis), then FTGFOP1 (Finest Tippy Golden Flowery Orange Pekoe First Grade – finest top-grade production with an abundance of tips), TGFOP1 (Tippy Golden Flowery Orange Pekoe First Grade), TGFOP (Tippy Golden Flowery Orange Pekoe), and so on down to the lowest grade of OP (Orange Pekoe). Even that lowest grade can be heads and tails above CTC tea.

CTC is basically machine processed and fully oxidized (black) tea; it tends to be less expensive and lesser quality than Orthodox tea and often are blends of tea leaves harvested from more than one plantation during the first “flush” (harvest). This makes their flavor fairly consistent from one batch to another, making it important to start with good quality tea leaves, since that level of quality will determine the quality of the finished tea. Generally, a CTC tea steeps stronger with more chance of being bitter, while Orthodox teas are higher quality, less likely to be bitter, and contain more subtle and multi-layered flavors. These teas tend to look like tiny nuggets, similar to Grape Nuts (which contains no grapes and no nuts, just double-toasted bread crumbs). By the way, most black tea bags are CTC blends ground to fannings or dust.

Knowing which tea you are buying will help you know what results you will get in the cup! If you are planning to make some masala chai (spiced tea), definitely start with a CTC tea. However, if you drink your black tea straight or with just some sweetener or lemon, then start with an Orthodox tea. Assam tea is a common type of tea seen labeled “CTC”. It steeps up an deep ruby-colored liquid with a rich malty flavor tending toward the bitter side. It takes milk well and can usually use a bit of sugar or other sweetener, too, serving as a great tea to use in masala chai (spiced tea).

Now you know, so you can decide which type you like and get just the taste you want. As for which is better, I tend to think that the Orthodox is overall better, with a richer and more varied flavor profile. Enjoy!

See more of A.C. Cargill’s articles here.

© Online Stores, Inc., and The English Tea Store Blog, 2009-2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this article’s author and/or the blog’s owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Online Stores, Inc., and The English Tea Store Blog with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Variety is the spice of life. It’s a somewhat overused phrase, but when it comes to tea drinking it’s true. I’m a black tea drinker first and foremost, and there’s nothing I like more than a good Assam. But I also like to mix things up with other varieties of black tea from time to time and just for fun I’ll throw in some green tea now and then and maybe even some oolong once in a while.

Black teas (ETS image)

Black teas (ETS image)

But it rarely occurs to me to mix any of the aforementioned in the same cup. Which is to say that for most tea drinkers the major types of tea like black, green, oolong and whatnot tend to be consumed apart from each other. I touched on this topic briefly some time ago when I wrote about a tea I’d run across that blended black and green tea. But I thought I’d revisit the subject and do a little experimenting of my own.

The topic came to mind again when I ran across (but haven’t sampled yet) a black and green tea mix from one of the big-name tea companies. It’s described as a “full flavored black tea with the refreshing goodness of green tea.” Which seems like it’s defeating the point on both counts but what do I know?

One of the main issues I see with this sort of thing is the nagging question of how to prepare such a blend. One article I read claimed that boiling water should be poured over the tea bag and steeped for about three to five minutes. Which might be good advice for black tea, though I tend to err on the side of shorter steeping times there. However, the common wisdom with green tea is that the surest way to ruin it is to subject it to boiling water and long steeping times.

The simplest way around this dilemma, of course, is to prepare both teas ahead of time and mix them. Which might be a bit labor-intensive for hot tea but for those of us who always have iced tea on hand it’s a little more convenient.

The downside to all of this, as I’ve found by undertaking some amateur tea mixing experiments is that the sum of the parts leaves something to be desired. I mixed a quite good black tea in equal parts with an acceptable green tea. I’m sorry to say that the result could be summed up in one word – bland. But perhaps more experimentation is called for. I’m not completely ready to give up on blended black and green tea just yet but for the moment I think I’ll stick with one or the other.

See more of William I. Lengeman’s articles here.

© Online Stores, Inc., and The English Tea Store Blog, 2009-2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this article’s author and/or the blog’s owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Online Stores, Inc., and The English Tea Store Blog with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

The Yunnan Province of China is home to some of the finest teas from China. A few years ago the Chinese government even went so far as to give approval to a proposal that limits the labeling of any Chinese tea as “pu-erh” to only those grown and processed in this province. This was in part to protect their reputation in the tea market (success breeds imitators) where their popularity is growing. But aside from these teas, other very fine ones are produced. They are categorized as “Black” (called “Dian Hong” or “red tea” in other countries) and “Golden.”

Golden Heaven Yunnan China Black Tea (Photo by A.C. Cargill, all rights reserved)

Golden Heaven Yunnan China Black Tea (Photo by A.C. Cargill, all rights reserved)

A couple to get you started:

  • Golden Heaven Yunnan China Black Tea — Considered by many to be one of the highest quality teas available from Yunnan Province. A black tea blend composed of tippy, neat, wiry, and well-made leaves that have a wonderful fragrance and produce a bright reddish cup with a malty flavor and aroma. The leaves are harvested and processed during the last 2 weeks of March and the first 2 weeks of April and so have a brighter golden tip. A tea that is perfect on its own, but a bit of milk or sugar help capture that malty character. Steep for 3-7 minutes in water that has been brought to a rolling boil. (My review)
  • Flowering Tea – 3 Flower Burst – Green Tea — This tea mimics the lush Yunnan countryside as it unfolds from brewing. Lily, Osmanthus, and jasmine blooms are tied together with steamed full leaves of Yunnan green tea. They steep up a full green taste with overtones of peach, and undertones of lily and jasmine. Steep in something where you can watch the show!

Some more to be on the lookout for:

  • Royal Yunnan — A tea resulting from literally thousands of years of tea growing and processing experience. The leaves are picked in early Spring from the first flush, and these young, fresh buds turn gold when oxidized instead of black. The rich flavor  that steeps up from these leaves has lingering notes of honey and smoke. Steep as long as you like to get a stronger, not bitter, brew.
  • Dian Hong (Yunnan Red, Yunnan Black) — Unlike other Chinese black teas, the finest grade of Dian Hong has a higher amount of fine leaf buds (“golden tips”). They steep up a liquid that is brassy golden orange and having a sweet aroma that is gentle, and the flavor is free of astringency. Lower grades can steep up darker brown and be bitter, especially if oversteeped. Both are a tea version that goes back only to the earth 20th century. The grades: First Grade, Broken Yunnan (BOP grade), Yunnan Gold (OP to TGFOP grade), and Yunnan Pure Gold (TGFOP to SFTGFOP grade).
  • Golden Bi Luo (Twisted Yunnan Gold, Hong Bi Luo, Yunnan Bi Luo) — A rare golden black tea that is made with a local Yunnan varietal similar to a high grade Yunnan Gold. The leaves are processed in the style of the famous green tea called Bi Luo Chun (from Jiangsu province in China). The flavor is creamy with sweet, malty notes of vanilla.
  • Yunnan Tribute Pu-Erh — A tea aged for many years that has been a favorite in Southern China for a long time. It has a distinctive earthy, bold, and assertive flavor, yet is exceptionally smooth.

About Yunnan Province

This part of China is in the southwest corner and borders Laos, Myanmar (Burma), Tibet, and Vietnam. The elevation ranges from 76 meters above sea level to over 6,700 meters, with tea being grown at 1,200 to 2,000 meters. Weather wise, they are crossed by the Tropic of Cancer, have an annual rainfall range of 1,000 to 2,000 millimeters, and have a temperature range of 12° to 23° Celsius. This is ideal for the tea trees growing there and for which the province is famous. Most of the 200+ species are known as “Yunnan large leaf” and are great for pu-erhs and black teas. Their first flush begins about a half month ahead of other tea-growing provinces such as Zhejiang.

See more of A.C. Cargill’s articles here.

© Online Stores, Inc., and The English Tea Store Blog, 2009-2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this article’s author and/or the blog’s owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Online Stores, Inc., and The English Tea Store Blog with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Chinese Black Tea (ETS image)

Chinese Black Tea (ETS image)

Language is an ever-changing thing, as anyone who’s ever struggled to read Chaucer or Shakespeare can probably attest to. The British Library was so convinced that the English language is constantly in flux that they created a web site to try to document some of those changes.

Of course, the language of tea has changed along with the rest of the language, and some of the terms that might have been quite common in past centuries don’t turn up much anymore. I took a look at a few of these obsolete tea terms in an article here a while back. More recently, I took a closer look at such old-fashioned tea terms as Bohea, Hyson and Singlo, words that are used to categorize types of tea but which aren’t heard much anymore.

Then there’s Congou. As I began this article, I was under the impression that it was a term that we don’t hear much about anymore. But then I discovered that there are still a few scattered tea sellers who offer teas under this name. For whatever it might be worth, Merriam-Webster Online defines “congou” as “a black tea from China,” which is a decidedly less than specific rendering of the term. Other useful information from the same listing claims that the term was first used in 1725 and that it rhymes with bongo.

Congou tea hails from the Fujian region of China and is indeed a black tea, a category the Chinese sometimes refer to as red tea. According to a few merchants who still offer this variety, it is sometimes referred to as the claret of Chinese tea, which is a reference to a red wine that’s made in the Bordeaux region of France.

As nearly as I can tell, Congou, in the broader sense of the word, is still a relatively arcane term, at least by today’s standards. Although, as noted, you can still buy some if you really want to. However, there is a variety of Congou that’s arguably a little better known. That one is called Panyang Congou and it’s probably better known to those relatively few people who have tried it as Golden Monkey. More about that one here.

See more of William I. Lengeman’s articles here.

© Online Stores, Inc., and The English Tea Store Blog, 2009-2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this article’s author and/or the blog’s owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Online Stores, Inc., and The English Tea Store Blog with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

When I drink tea, I like to taste the tea and nothing else. Everybody has their own preferences and I’m not saying my way is better than anyone else’s. But I like my tea untainted by any such substances as milk, sugar, lemon, sauerkraut (just seeing if you’re paying attention) and the like – the usual suspects. That goes for flavors too. I drank some flavored varieties back when I was first getting into tea but as time went on my interest in those began to fall by the wayside.

Tea Review - English Tea Store Peach Black Tea (photo by William I. Lengeman, III, all rights reserved)

Tea Review – English Tea Store Peach Black Tea (photo by William I. Lengeman, III, all rights reserved)

Except for peach, oddly enough. As I recall it, way back in the early days I used to drink a peach-flavored black tea that was a made by a fairly well-known tea company and so the notion that peach-flavored black tea was a good thing has somehow stuck with me.

So I thought that I would give the English Tea Store’s peach-flavored black tea a spin. The first thing that struck me, upon opening the package, was the small size of the leaves and pretty much a total absence of a peach aroma. Neither of which is necessarily a bad thing, mind you. I adjusted for the smaller leaves by dialing back on the water temperature just a bit and not steeping the leaves quite as long as I would for a black tea with fuller leaves.

The end result was quite nice, thank you very much. The Tea Store’s site doesn’t offer much in the way of specifics about the tea or the flavoring agents but I’d give them points on both counts. One thing that I did find was that the peach component was a bit much for my likes. However, I tend to prefer that such things are very subtle (a little dab’ll do you) and so I suspect that many tea drinkers won’t share my feeling on this point. Besides, it was easy enough to resolve this by simply mixing in equal measures of a plain black tea with the flavored and thus getting that low-key peach goodness that I sought.

See more of William I. Lengeman’s articles here.

© Online Stores, Inc., and The English Tea Store Blog, 2009-2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this article’s author and/or the blog’s owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Online Stores, Inc., and The English Tea Store Blog with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Giving the English Tea Store's Nonsuch Estate Nilgiri a try. (photo by William I. Lengeman, III - all rights reserved)

Giving the English Tea Store’s Nonsuch Estate Nilgiri a try. (photo by William I. Lengeman, III – all rights reserved)

I have mixed feelings about India’s teas. If I had to pick a variety of tea that’s disappointed me the most over the years, I’d go with Darjeeling. I’ve only been drinking tea for about eight years now and in the early days I found myself quite impressed with the unique flavor profile of this distinctive variety of black tea that’s grown in northern India. Lately though, I can barely bring myself to prepare the samples of Darjeeling that come my way. I even went so far as to document my falling out with Darjeeling tea last year.

On the other hand I’m a huge fan of the tea that’s produced in the Assam region of India, one of the world’s greatest single tea-growing regions and my absolute favorite. At my own site over the course of the years I’ve even devoted two separate months to exploring all things Assam.

Then there’s Nilgiri. If the name doesn’t ring a bell, that’s probably not surprising. With all due respect to the good tea growers of India’s third region, it’s safe to say they’re overshadowed by the premium teas of Darjeeling and the sheer quantity of tea turned out in Assam.

My own experience with Nilgiri tea has been somewhat limited and, while I wouldn’t go so far as to say I disliked any of them, my recollection is that I found them to be kind of so-so. Like the teas grown in those other parts of India, nearly everything that comes out of Nilgiri is a black tea. Which is fine by me, as a dedicated cheerleader for all manner of this type of tea.

The curious thing about this Nilgiri variety from the Nonsuch Estate is that it could (and did) pass for a Darjeeling tea. I’d somehow formed the mistaken impression that it actually was a Darjeeling and my first version of this review treated it as such. The first time I sampled it I liked it well enough and I was actually willing to re-revise my opinion of what I thought was Darjeeling tea, but I wasn’t exactly blown away.

The second time I tried it I found that I liked it quite a bit more than the last time. Like so many actual Darjeeling teas, it has a light (for a black tea) flavor profile but with a very smooth texture and mouthfeel and none of the bitterness, thin flavor, or astringency that I still tend to associate with that type of tea.

So you can call it Darjeeling if you’d like or you can refer to it by its correct name but I’d give it a thumbs up either way.

See more of William I. Lengeman’s articles here.

© Online Stores, Inc., and The English Tea Store Blog, 2009-2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this article’s author and/or the blog’s owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Online Stores, Inc., and The English Tea Store Blog with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Earl Grey (ETS image)

Earl Grey (ETS image)

As I’ve said many times before, there are a few types of tea I’ve tried really hard to like. But in several of these cases I finally realized that all of my efforts were in vain. There’s Earl Grey, of course, which still tastes like liquid perfume to me, and there are a few others. Including Lapsang Souchong, a flavored black tea that’s traditionally made by curing the tea leaves over the smoke of a pine wood fire. While I’ve made a little bit of peace with smoky teas over the years, a straight up cup of Lapsang Souchong is an acquired taste I have yet to acquire.

Even so, I was interested when I recently ran across a reference to a tea I’ve never heard of before. It’s called Hu-Kwa, though you might encounter some alternate spellings. Further investigation revealed that this is actually a variety of Lapsang Souchong that apparently hails from Taiwan and is said to be one of the better examples of the breed.

As it turns out, Hu-Kwa tea takes its name from a Chinese merchant whose fame for us Westerners might not rival that of such tea sellers as Thomas Twining or Thomas Lipton but he was rather well-known in his day (1769-1843). He was also quite wealthy, having amassed such a sizable fortune that some have suggested that he was the wealthiest man in the world at the time.

Perhaps one of the reasons why we in the West still know of Howqua and have lent his name to a type of tea is the fact that he had something of a reputation for fairness and honesty among those Westerners he traded with. In Howqua’s day relations between tea traders and Chinese producers could be uneasy, to say the least, to the point that crews from Western merchant’s ships were strongly discouraged from leaving the port areas of Chinese trading cities. Chinese tea production was a closely guarded secret, one that was subject to occasional bouts of espionage on the part of Westerners.

Which is a fine and interesting snippet from the long and varied history of tea, but how about some ice cream? Pardon my abrupt change of direction but while I was researching this article I ran across a food site that recreated an 1844 recipe for Howqua’s-Tea Ice Cream, which uses Lapsang Souchong, of course, and which end product is said to have the distinct taste of bacon. Read all about it here.

See more of William I. Lengeman’s articles here.

© Online Stores, Inc., and The English Tea Store Blog, 2009-2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this article’s author and/or the blog’s owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Online Stores, Inc., and The English Tea Store Blog with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Type of tea: Black
Loose or bagged: Loose
Recommended steep time: 3-8 minutes, depending on preferred strength

One of the teas featured in a list of teas I would like to explore more, Scottish Breakfast tea from the English Tea Store is a bold, strong black tea without flavouring or scenting. It can be brewed as hot or iced tea, although as the weather here in the UK just took a chilly turn I decided to limit my exploration of this tea to hot brews.

The amount of tea and steeping time, as for many black teas, is left up to the tea drinker’s discretion, and the more tea used and/or the longer it is the left to steep, the stronger the brew.

Scottish Breakfast Tea (ETS image)

Scottish Breakfast Tea (ETS image)

To start with, I went with my standard ratio of 1 teaspoon of tea for every 8oz of fluid. For my 16oz teapot, this meant 2 teaspoons of Scottish Breakfast. I poured in the water which had just reached a rolling boil, and left it to steep. Wanting to experience a range of strengths, I initially removed the infuser after 3 minutes. Already, it was a pretty strong brew. I am definitely of fan of strong black teas, and this tea has a slight suggestion of a woody taste, perhaps tending towards smokiness.

I took a few sips without adding milk to get an idea of the tea in its pure form, but since I always take my black tea with milk, I added some. As with many strong black teas, smoky or otherwise, the milk cuts some of the harshness that these bold teas can have.

Scottish Breakfast with milk (photo by Elise Nuding, all rights reserved)

Scottish Breakfast with milk (photo by Elise Nuding, all rights reserved)

The next brew I made up (with fresh leaves), I left for 5 minutes, and although there was no bitterness, it was a little too strong for my taste, even after adding milk.

The third brew (also fresh leaves) I left for 4 minutes. Whilst a little stronger than my initial 3-minute brew, I enjoyed it equally. Perhaps this brew is a good choice for those mornings when I need a little extra boost to get me going, and the 3-minute brew for a gentler, but still intensely black, morning cuppa.

For those who like to re-use their tea leaves, this tea does resteep. As to be expected, the second infusion is a little weaker, a little lighter, but still makes for a good cup. It is more like one of the less bold breakfast teas- such as English Breakfast- and so if you want to experience the unique characteristics of Scottish Breakfast tea, the first infusions are the ones to go with.

See more of Elise Nuding’s articles here.

© Online Stores, Inc., and The English Tea Store Blog, 2009-2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this article’s author and/or the blog’s owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Online Stores, Inc., and The English Tea Store Blog with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

English Breakfast Blend No. 2 Tea (ETS image)

English Breakfast Blend No. 2 Tea (ETS image)

As I’ve mentioned many times in these pages I’m a big fan of black tea. While I drink other teas on occasion, these days it’s the black stuff that makes up the greatest portion of my consumption, and when I find a new tea site that’s always the first section I look at.

I’d venture to say that I’m probably like most people who drink black tea, in that I primarily drink the stuff that’s produced in the world’s major tea-growing regions. My favorite is Assam tea from India, but I’m also not averse to black teas from China and Sri Lanka. While Africa is a big player in the world of tea growing, I have to confess that this is one region whose black teas I haven’t had much experience with. But there are plenty of other black teas besides the old tried and true ones. Here are a few of them.

England
What’s more English than tea? They’ve even got a black tea blend – that would be English Breakfast tea – that’s named for them. But if the truth be told, the ocean’s worth of tea that the English have consumed over the years have come from somewhere else. The exception – in recent years – has been Tregothnan Estate – which is located in the western part of the country. They grow about ten tons of tea a year there, which sounds like a lot but is probably only enough to keep the nation’s tea lovers drinking for a few days or so. Currently it appears that the only black teas from Tregothnan are blended with teas from better known regions but I’d wager they’re worth a taste just for the novelty factor alone.

Japan
The Japanese are known first and foremost for their wide range of green teas, which can run the gamut from kind of blah to some of the best green teas you’re likely to ever taste. Black tea is something of a curiosity there, having been produced for a little over a century. But based on my limited experience with Japanese blacks, fans of that sort of thing are likely to find that it’s worth seeking out.

Nilgiri
The Nilgiri region of India might be doomed to always be overshadowed by India’s other tea-growing regions. Darjeeling is arguably the best-known of these and Assam is by far the most productive. All three regions produce mostly black tea. The Assam tends to have a bold flavor often described as malty and Darjeeling is light and almost floral. In my limited experience with Nilgiri I’ve never quite been able to figure out what to compare it to but I’m always open to giving it another try.

South Carolina
The United States grows very little tea but one of the oldest and most productive gardens on these shores is the Charleston Tea Plantation in South Carolina. Much of the modest output of the tea grown there is black tea that’s blended with other varieties from farther afield, but if you’d like the straight, unfiltered stuff that’s pure American try their First Flush variety.

Georgia
It’s true that Georgia is located right next to South Carolina – except when it’s not. When it comes to lesser known varieties of black tea the Georgia in question is the nation that was once located on the southwestern boundary of the former Soviet Union. While Russians drink quite a bit of tea, as far as I’m aware Georgia is the only country in that former Soviet Union that actually grows any appreciable amounts of the stuff. I have to say that I found their black tea rather weak for my tastes, but then again my experience with Georgian tea has been so limited so it’s hardly fair to judge on that basis.

See more of William I. Lengeman’s articles here.

© Online Stores, Inc., and The English Tea Store Blog, 2009-2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this article’s author and/or the blog’s owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Online Stores, Inc., and The English Tea Store Blog with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

To some of us the term “black oolong” can be a bit of a puzzle. We know black teas as one thing and oolong teas as another. Time to take a closer look.

Yes, folks, this is called a black tea. Not quite the liquid color you would normally expect. (Photo by A.C. Cargill, all rights reserved)

Yes, folks, this is called a black tea. Not quite the liquid color you would normally expect. (Photo by A.C. Cargill, all rights reserved)

First, we here in North America and much of Europe know black tea as a fully oxidized tea where the dry leaves are very dark brown. (In Asia and other locations, this tea is known as red tea based on the reddish color of the steeped liquid.) And oolong lovers know that these are teas that are partially oxidized, ranging from very light to almost full.

But wait, there are those who say that oolong teas are made from certain varietals, from certain leaves, and grown in certain locations. This seems to be the case with the “black oolong” I received awhile ago to try. It was definitely being presented as one of those special plant oolongs but was being called “black.” (An online search popped up a host of other such “black oolong” teas.)

The puzzle is easily solved here. Hearken back to that earlier statement about different levels (percentages) of oxidation. This “black oolong” tea is from Fujian Province in China and was generally processed in the way a lot of Fujian oolongs are. But this tea was allowed to oxidize “longer than our normal Fujian Oolong…”.

So how did this particular black oolong compare to regular black teas? The aroma of the dry leaves was rich, nutty, and earthy, not smoky or malty or raisiny or jammy. The liquid (infused three times in water heated to 85°C for 2 minutes, 2½ minutes, and 3 minutes respectively) was pale, not the rich reddish color of regular black teas, and had a thick feel in the mouth that I have not experienced with black teas. After steeping, the leaves took on a nutty, slightly smoky (peat-like) aroma in the cup, with a smoky, slightly cocoa-ish flavor. That smoky, cocoa-ish quality was in the cup, too.

These “black oolong” teas are certainly worth searching out. Yes, there is a big world of tea out there. Enjoy!

See more of A.C. Cargill’s articles here.

© Online Stores, Inc., and The English Tea Store Blog, 2009-2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this article’s author and/or the blog’s owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Online Stores, Inc., and The English Tea Store Blog with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Categories

Explore our content:

Find us on these sites:


Follow Us!     Like Us!     Follow Us!     Follow Us!     Plus 1 Us!

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Tweet This!    add to del.icio.us    add to furl    digg this    stumble it!    add to simpy    seed the vine    add to reddit     post to facebook    technorati faves

Copyright Notice:

© Online Stores, Inc., and The English Tea Store Blog, 2009-2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Online Stores, Inc., and The English Tea Store Blog with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Blog Affiliates

blogged
Bloglisting.net - The internets fastest growing blog directory

Networked Blogs

%d bloggers like this: