Black Teas Including Flavoured Black Teas
Black Tea is the type of tea that is most recognisable to tea drinkers in the west. It is tea that has been allowed to fully oxidise. For other teas such as green tea the oxidation process is stopped by heating. Not so for black tea, the picked leaves are allowed to turn black as part of the processing. Black teas are produced in all major tea growing areas apart from Japan which only produces green teas. Indian and Chinese teas are different as they come from two distinct varieties of the tea bush. The Assam variety produces tea with a slight edge of bitterness, while the Chinese variety has a more malty edge that does not tend to bitterness.
The best black loose leaf tea uses only the bud and top two leaves of the new growth on the tea bush. Black tea is often graded by the size of the leaf. The full leaf is called Pekoe and the term Orange pekoe is used. It should be noted that orange has nothing to do with flavour and is a reference to the Dutch House of Orange who were large tea importers.
Black loose leaf teas can also be flavoured traditionally with Vanilla and with Oil of Bergamot (a small orange) for Earl Grey. In China a large leaf tea is naturally smoked over wood chippings to produce Lapsang Souchong.