Organic Black Tea - Many lovers of strong teas with rich, bold flavors and fragrances, enjoy organic black teas. Popular tea flavors, like Earl Grey and English Breakfast, are also black teas, sold in a variety of grades. English Breakfast in particular usually has roasted, malty and bitter flavor notes that hold up well with milk and sugar.
Lovers of high-grade loose leaf black teas, however, prefer the flavor notes of the tea without any additives.
No matter how you enjoy your black tea, black tea – particularly high grade organic black tea – is characterized by its dark, reddish liquor and rich flavor.
- Organic black tea is prized for its bold flavors, which develop during the oxidation process, giving it a rich and dark appearance.
- Black tea originated in China, with Lapsang Souchong being the first black tea, created by accident due to delayed production.
- Black tea is produced in different regions worldwide, each with its unique flavor characteristics, such as Assam's malty taste or Darjeeling's delicate notes.
- There's a wide variety of black tea blends, from traditional breakfast blends to aromatic choices like Earl Grey and spiced blends like Masala Chai.
- Proper brewing techniques and storage, including vacuum-sealed containers in a cool, dry place, are essential to preserve black tea's flavors and aromas.
- Black tea contains antioxidants and may offer potential health benefits, including improved heart health, and enhanced mental alertness due to moderate caffeine content.
Production of Organic Black Tea:
The dark color and liquor of black tea and its bold flavors arise from the process of ‘oxidation’.
Oxidation is the third step in the tea production process. After plucking, fresh tea leaves are left to wither in warm air until the leaves lose their water content, taking on a rubbery texture. The leaves are then rolled for certain durations, depending on the type of tea being made, to gently bruise the leaves and break cell walls, releasing the goodness of flavonoids and antioxidants stored in the cells to the surface.
Then, the leaves are exposed to air in the process of oxidation. As the leaves interact with oxygen, the chemical composition within the leaves are altered, changing the flavor of the tea. White tea and green teas undergo the least amount of oxidation, while black teas undergo the longest duration of oxidation, therefore taking on a dark color and attaining bold flavors.
Due to its reddish appearance, black tea is also known as hong cha, or red tea, in China.
Like most teas, black tea also originated in China. And like most teas, black tea is also now produced all over the world. Depending on the climate, terroir and the cultivar of the tea plant, Camellia Sinensis, and the processing techniques used in the production of the black tea, the teas will have certain distinct flavor notes.
For example, the organic black teas of Nepal are characterized by their rich, bright and floral taste, while Assam black teas, which are grown at lower altitudes and warm climates, have a full-bodied malty and smoky flavor.
Like all true teas, the black tea is also produced from the leaves plucked from the tea plant: Camellia Sinensis.
The Story of Black Tea: (History of Black Tea)
Much like the myth of the accidental discovery of tea, in which the Chinese Emperor Tshe Dong accidentally discovered the beverage when a leaf falling off a tea bush landed in his pot of boiling water, the story of the origins of black tea in China also ends in accidental discovery.
The story begins in China’s south-west province of Fujian.
If you’re a tea lover, or have any basic knowledge of tea, you’ll have heard of China’s Fujian province. Fujian Province is the birthplace of tea. Some of the best silver needle teas, white teas and oolongs in the world are still grown and produced in the region today.
Fujian’s most popular black tea, named Lapsang Souchong, was actually the first black tea ever produced.
During the late Ming Dynasty, a troop of soldiers passed through Fujian Province. In the course of their journey, they decided to stop for a rest in a tea factory. Their presence in the factory caused a delay in the daily production of tea.
At the time, tea was only consumed in the form of white or green tea, both undergoing minimal or low levels of oxidation. The making of white tea and green tea are sensitive processes, and due to the delay in production, the freshly plucked tea leaves of the day had been left in the sun for far too long. They had oxidized longer than the normal amount, causing them to take on a dark appearance.
In an effort not to waste the day’s plucking, the tea producers decided to save the leaves by accelerating the drying process. They decided to dry the leaves by smoking the tea leaves over pine-wood, leading to the creation of the world’s first black tea: the Lapsang Souchong.
In the mid-17th century, the Dutch East India Company imported Chinese and Japanese tea into Europe. With these imports, black tea began to gain popularity in Britain. In the 1800s, the British began tea plantations in Assam and Darjeeling.
The tea varietal Camellia Sinensis Assamica (a variation of the original tea plant: Camellia Sinensis Sinensis) took to the soil and climate of Assam and Darjeeling.
The black teas produced from this varietal had hearty and rich flavors that suited the demands of the time, and continues to be popular throughout the world today.
Types of Organic Black Tea available today:
An incredible range of choices in black teas are available in the market today. With a variety of Various grades of black tea are also available in the market. We make a distinction between premium grades of organic, whole leaf black teas, and broken leaves, including fannings or tea dust leftover from the production process.
Broken leaves tend to dominate the current market, with which tea concentrates, bottled iced-teas, and tea bags are made.
However, those who enjoy the aromatic and flavorful experience of high-grade, black teas tend to opt for loose-leaf, organic black teas. Cultivated without the use of pesticides, chemical fertilizers, and harmful additives, and typically hand-plucked, organic loose-leaf black tea offers the best of flavors, aromas and benefits associated with black teas.
Even within the world of loose-leaf black teas, there exists an array of varieties and flavors to choose from.
Assam Black Tea:
Grown in the tropical region of Assam, India, Assam black tea is popular for its strong, malty flavor. One of the strongest black teas available, Assam black teas are often enjoyed with milk and sugar and used as a base in many breakfast blends.
Organic black tea is grown in Nepal’s eastern tea mountains, and is also referred to as Himalayan teas. Grown at high elevations, the tea plants in Nepal enjoy unique microclimates and an especially mineral rich terroir. These environmental factors, along with the season during which the tea leaves are plucked and produced, lend Nepal black teas a unique bright and floral flavor profile.
Darjeeling Black Tea:
Darjeeling teas are known as the ‘Champagne of teas’ for their soft, delicate flavors. Their unique smoothness and gentle, flowery notes are often enjoyed without any additional flavors or sugar.
Ceylon Black Tea:
Ceylon black teas are grown in tea gardens across Sri Lanka. The tea plants grow in a variety of elevations, climates and terroirs. Therefore, Ceylon black teas come in an array of flavor profiles. However, Ceylon black teas are generally associated with strong, spicy notes.
Keemun Black Tea:
Grown in the Chinese province of Anhui, Keemun (also written as qimen, after the Qimen county) black tea is one of the most popular Chinese black teas.
Keemun Black teas are made from a different tea varietal than Assam, Darjeeling or Nepal teas, that is the Camellia Sinensis var sinensis. This varietal has smaller, rounder leaves. Black tea produced from these leaves have a different, more mellow flavor profile than Assam or Ceylon teas. Keemun black teas are enjoyed for their pronounced fruitiness and their sweet aftertaste.
The first black tea in the world, Lapsang Souchong, is still popular today. It is commonly referred to as smoked black tea, as the tea leaves are smoke-dried over burning pinewood. Lapsang Souchong is also used to make delicious tea-smoked meats and other dishes.
Flavored Black Teas:
Black Tea Blends:
Traditionally produced black teas tend to have their own distinct flavor profiles that are generally full-bodied and rich. These flavor profiles arise without any additives, and are inherent characteristics of the tea.
For example, the organic black tea, Rose Label Reserve from Nepal has distinct rose-like flavors and aromas, with layers of caramel, mint and brown sugar, without any additives at all.
However, some of the most popular black tea flavors in the world are enhanced with additives. For example, some of the most popular black tea based Breakfast Blends have a mix of black teas and spices. One such example is the Nepal tea ‘Nepali Breakfast’, a blend of organic black tea with fresh Nepali herbs and spices.
Similary, Earl Grey is a popular black tea blend, known for its bergamot (a fragrant, citrus fruit) flavor. The distinct bergamot flavor of Earl Grey tea is achieved by the addition of bergamot oil, which is extracted from the bergamot orange. Some blends of Earl Grey are also mixed with vanilla bean, giving the black tea blend a sweet and delicate finish.
Because of black tea’s bold flavors, they also go well with herbal blends, making a strong and rich infusion of tea and fragrant herbs. Spearmint, Peppermint, Ginger, along with spices and citrus zest, is often mixed with black teas to make delicious, warming and healthful beverages.
Another extremely popular black tea blend that originates in South Asia is Masala Chai blends. The richness of black teas, particularly some organic black teas of Nepal, Assam and Ceylon teas, are made delicious and spiky with the addition of exotic spices such as star anise, cinnamon, bay leaves, cardamom, turmeric. These teas carry a rich and lingering depth of fragrance, strong and sweet flavors, and are particularly enjoyable during the chilly winter months.
How much Caffeine is there in Organic Black Tea?
Though organic black tea has lower caffeine content than coffee, it is still believed to have higher levels of caffeine than other kinds of tea. Organic black tea can contain up to 61 mg of caffeine per cup.
Tea is a plant that naturally produces caffeine as a defense mechanism for its leaves, therefore all teas will have some amount of caffeine. However, how caffeinated your tea is will also depend on how the tea has been crafted and how you have chosen to brew it.
How to Brew Black Tea:
Brewing the perfect cup of black tea not only depends on the type of black tea you’ve chosen to brew, but also depends on how you like your black tea. The more cups of different teas you make, the more skilled you will become at brewing a cup of organic black tea that is perfect for you.
However, here are some general instructions on how to brew a cup of black tea:
- A kettle, or something to boil your water in
- Organic black tea leaves of your choice
- A teapot and strainer, or an infuser that fits into your favorite mug
You can also use the one of a kind, three-in-one teapot, strainer and mug combo: The Wall tea infuser.
Heat the Water:
Use filtered or spring water for best results. Heat your water to 210F, which is a soft boil.
For more delicate teas, such as the first flush Nepal teas, use slightly cooler water. The leaves of the first flush are extremely delicate, and boiling water can burn them and ruin their delicate flavor profile.
Measure out Tea Leaves:
If you’re making a single serving of organic black tea for yourself, use 2gms of organic black tea leaves (about one teaspoon scoop) for a single mug of tea.
If you’re making a teapot to share, use 4gms (about two teaspoon scoops) of organic black tea leaves for every pot of tea.
Steep your Tea:
Cover your tea pot or mug while your tea steeps for three to five minutes. This will keep the aromas within the steeping pot or mug, creating a heady hit of aroma when the tea is finally done steeping.
Make sure not to steep your tea for too long. Once your tea is done steeping, remove the strainer from the tea pot, or remove the infuser from the mug. Over-steeping your tea leaves can make the brew too strong, and can make your black tea too tart and astringent.
Pour and Enjoy!
To enjoy the full benefits of the antioxidant goodness present in your cup of organic black tea, you can also add a squeeze of lime into your tea.
If you’re drinking rich, malty black teas such as Assam or Ceylon black teas, you can also add a splash of sugar and milk.
How to Store Black Tea:
Teas don’t generally expire. However, if they are stored incorrectly, they might lose their special kick of fragrance and flavor. Many delicious black teas are ruined by long-term exposure to air.
Therefore, it’s best to store your tea in a vacuum sealed container in a cool, dry place.
Additionally, tea leaves tend to pick up flavors and aromas of items they are stored with, especially if the items have a strong aroma and flavor of their own. Therefore, it’s best to store tea away from the spice cabinet, from food items, or fragrant items such as scented candles or coffee, and sometimes even other heavily aromatic tea blends.
Oxidized, organic teas such as black and oolongs have a longer shelf life than green teas and white teas. If stored properly, you can comfortably brew and enjoy your black teas until you run out.
And when you do run out, Nepal tea has your back with a unique and delicious selection of Nepal’s best organic black teas! :)