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BLACK TEA is fully oxidized tea.
Oxidation of the tea leaf was first discovered in 17th century in China.
Unlike in green teas for production of black teas mature leaves are used, except for the top quality whole leaf teas such as Dian Hong, Keemun, Black Mao Feng etc. that use tea shoots and topmost 4 young leaves.
After the leaves are plucked they are allowed to wither. Withering of Black Tea is a longer process than for other teas, to create deeper, more concentrated flavors.
Then tea leaves are rolled and crushed by hand or by machine. Tea makers roll the leaves gently to stimulate the polyphenols, amino acids and essential oils that determine the final characteristics of the tea. Most modern producers use mechanical rollers, but the finest Black Teas are still rolled by hand. This process brings enzymes – polyphenol oxidase and peroxidase – in contact with polyphenols and triggers the oxidation process. The leaves are allowed to turn dark brown and eventually, when chlorophyll breaks into pheophytin, to deep black.
During oxidation most of the polyphenols are diverted into theaflavins, thearubigins, and theabrovines that also contribute to brown and orange colors of the black tea infusion.
Then tea leaves are fired to stop oxidizing and to remove remaining moisture by bringing its content to 2-4%. Due to black tea’s copper color infusion in China black teas are called “Red Tea”.
Traditionally black tea is produced in China, India, and Sri Lanka. Other loose-leaf black tea producing countries include: Kenya, Nepal, Turkey, Indonesia, and Australia.
In 1930ths new revolutionary CTC (cut, tear, curl) industrial technology was introduced and adopted by many black tea producers. It includes three simple steps. After withering leaves are cut, then granulated using metal cylinders with cutting edges and then crushed in special rotating machines. This process is used for processing low grade tea leaves and it became very popular with introduction of the tea bags. CTC technology revolutionized tea industry but the quality and health benefits of the whole tea leaf were compromised.
Nevertheless there is still a big portion of black tea producers that continue production of black tea using traditional artisanal orthodox methods. India and Sri Lanka as the biggest producers of black tea combined have introduced special black tea grading scale depending on the tea leaf used:
SFTGFOP: Special Finest Tippy Golden Flowery Orange Pekoe
FTGFOP: Finest Tippy Golden Orange Pekoe
TGFOP: Tippy Golden Flowery Orange Pekoe
GFOP: Golden Flowery Orange Pekoe
FOP: Flowery Orange Pekoe
OP: Orange Pekoe
Pekoe is derived from Chinese Pak-Ho that means “white gown on baby’s skin” and refers to tiny white hair on the tea shoots. After oxidation these white hair turn golden.
“Orange” is not related anyhow to “orange” fruit and is used in the terminology as a tribute to the Dutch Orange Nassau Royal Family who was among the first importers and introducers of the tea to Europe.
BLACK TEA VARIETIES:
• Assam tea
• Ceylon tea
• Darjeeling tea
• Yunnan tea
• Anhui BLACK TEA – Keemun
• Kenya black tea
• Lapsang Souchong smoked tea
All tea benefits are derived from the polyphenols, amino acids, vitamins, and minerals that are abundant in the Camellia Sinensis plant. Due to conversion of the polyphenols in the black tea caffeine faster dissolves in the blood and has more stimulating effect than in green tea.
The following are the health benefits of black tea:
helps to enhance the immune system and lessen the risk for cell damage which in turn may lead to cancer.
helps to relieve tension and soothe the nerves. It may also help decrease the risk of brain function disorders like Alzheimer’s disease. strengthens tooth enamel and fights cavities.
strengthens the immune system
when topically applied, may help treat burns and scrapes. It may also help reduce puffiness of the eyes, and soothe tired feet.