Beneficial Black Tea
Black tea (or red tea, as it is known in most of China) is the most commonly consumed tea in North America. In 2010, Americans consumed almost 3 billion gallons of tea, most of it black. Black tea is commonly consumed by people who also drink coffee, due to the fact that black tea has a very stringent taste and a powerful aroma, much like that of coffee.
Black tea is also very compatible with strong-flavored additions such as lemon, cream, or sugar, which makes it a favorite of people who are used to the coffee culture. Most other brands of tea (white, green, yellow, etc) have a much more subtle taste and are not compatible with milk or sugar and are best consumed alone.
Fade to black
Black tea is the most highly oxidized version of tea; it is picked and then left to wilt and oxidize in the sun until it takes on its characteristic black color. The oxidization process also transforms the taste of the black tea so that it takes on its familiar robust, astringent qualities.
Black tea is also an excellent purveyor of flavourings and other additives; caramel, chocolate, and vanilla are some common flavorings that are added to many black teas in the consumer market. Adding natural and derived flavorings to other more delicate teas would really overpower the subtle partly-oxidized teas, so black teas are usually chosen in this case.
Black to the future
Black tea also holds its flavor longer than other teas; this is why black tea is the most common type of tea found on your grocery store shelves. Green tea will lose most of its flavor after a year, while black tea will hold its flavor over many years. Although black tea is available in whole-leaf varieties, it is most commonly crushed or cut into small pieces. This allows for the full, robust flavor of the tea to come out during the brewing process.
This fine processing is especially important in bagged tea products, as the confines of the gauze or paper teabag do not allow for whole leaves to fully expand in the hot water. The hot water can more easily work its way around the finer particles of the crushed black tea and produce a hot, flavorful beverage in just a few minutes.
Whether you prefer Earl Grey, Irish Breakfast, or chai, you’re still consuming black tea. Although one of the strongest-tasting teas, it is also one of the most versatile, and it’s even popular for brewing espresso-style and used to make tea and chai lattes!