- are referred to as ‘red tea’ in China
- have been fully oxidized
- were first produced in Fujian province, China
- are known for their robust, full-bodied and malty characteristics
- are higher in caffeine than both green and oolong teas
Black tea, also known as fully oxidized tea, first appeared in Fujian Province, China, where it is commonly known as ‘souchong’, or ‘small variety’ in English. There are three major sub-categories of black tea: the Fujianese ‘small variety’, ‘gong fu’ and chopped black tea (largely popularized by English tea companies in India). Major black tea producing countries are India, China, Sri Lanka and Kenya.
The processing of black tea involves five steps: plucking, withering, rolling, oxidation and drying. The withering and rolling stages activate the oxidization process. Oxidization gives black tea the familiar characteristics of dark black leaf and red infusion.
Flavor profiles can range from smooth, robust and malty, to soft muscatel, to brisk and astringent, to full bodied and winey. The qualities are dependent on the varietal of the camellia sinensis plant, weather and soil conditions, seasons of the year and of course the timing of processing used by the tea master.