Tea is the world’s second favorite drink, next to water. Its history is rich and long, reaching back more than 4000 years to the early Chinese dynasties. Tea has been said to be responsible for upending entire empires, creating political upheaval and is the subject of folklore reaching back for many generations. For years, this wonderful natural plant has been enjoyed as a drink and for its many medicinal purposes.
Black tea is arguably the most well-known and commonly purchased type of tea. All of China’s famed teas come from the Camellia sinensis plant, although some black teas also are supplemented with the large-leafed Assamese plant. In most Asian nations, black tea is called “crimson tea” because of the dark red color the tea produces when steeped. The name “black tea” is in reference to the color of the dried tea leaves following processing but before consumption.
Green and white teas, because they are less processed and less flavorful, tend to loose their enjoyable flavor after about a year on the shelf. Black tea, however, will retain its dark and intense flavor for years, making it a popular item of trade from the East to the West.
Following the harvest from the Camellia sinensis, black tea leaves are air dried and then processed in one of two ways – either by the Crush-Tear-Curl (CTC) method or by the orthodox method. The CTC method is rougher, whereas the orthodox is extremely careful and always attended to by human hands to produce a much more whole and high-quality product. The low quality leaves and small plant particles that typically become bagged tea are usually processed CTC style by machines.
After this, the tea leaves are oxidized, or fermented, using controlled temperature and humidity settings. Essentially, the level of oxidation controls the type of tea the leaves will become, and the quality of its medicinal value. The tea is now ready for packing and consuming.
From its pure form, black tea has been commonly blended with other plant and tea leaves or oils to create other types of tea such as English breakfast tea, Earl Gray, Irish breakfast tea or Masala chai, which are enjoyed in countries around the world.
It’s well known amongst medical professionals and health enthusiasts that tea has superior healing properties relating to heart, skin and digestive health, cancer fighting and weight loss. This is because Camellia sinensis naturally contains large amounts of polyphenols, which are a powerful antioxidant famed for fighting heart disease, cancer, digestion problems, obesity, dental issues, circulation problems and much more.
Black tea, because it is derived from the same plant as both green and white teas, retains many of these natural healing and health benefits. But because black tea is more heavily processed and oxidized during the post-harvest process, it does lessen the effects somewhat, though some argue that the difference is negligible.
Drinking 2-4 cups of tea a day can a delicious and nearly effortless method of improving your body’s overall health and day-to-day functioning.