Tea is one of the most revered beverages around the world and has a special place in a lot of different cultures. Its many health benefits also make this refreshing drink a staple in many diets.
But, before you brew yourself a cup, let’s learn more about what makes black tea different. What makes its taste so unique and the factors that influence it.
What makes Black Tea different?
Though every variety of tea comes from the same plant, each is distinctive because of the location it was cultivated in, the level of oxidization and processing it was exposed to. Black tea is the variant that is sun-dried and oxidized the most. This is what gives it its robust color and bold flavor.
The aroma and caffeine content would vary on the different grades of black tea used and how you choose to brew it (hot or cold).
How to brew hot black tea?
- Tea Leaves
- Mint Leaves (Optional)
- Cardamom (Optional)
- Cinnamon (Optional)
- Ginger (Optional)
- Lemon Wedges (Optional)
The quantity would vary depending on the number of people you are serving. A good rule of thumb is to use about half a teaspoon of tea leaves for every one cup of water.
Heat the water to a temperature of 90-95 degrees. If you are using high grown black teas, the temperature can be lowered to 85 degrees as the leaves are lighter and more floral.
Add tea leaves to the water. You can also add mint leaves, cardamom, cinnamon, or ginger (grated) if you want to add deeper flavors.
Stir the leaves and spices/herbs (if any) to ensure that they do not settle and the flavors are extracted well.
Put a lid on the pot and let it brew for about two minutes. Black tea shouldn’t be brewed for longer than three minutes.
Strain the tea into a teapot to serve or directly into cups and enjoy your steaming beverage.
- Warm milk is a popular enhancement in black tea but should only be added when brewed strongly. Black tea with milk is usually served with white sugar rather than brown for a better taste.
- You can also add lemon wedges to your hot black tea to give it some zest. However, do not add both warm milk and lemon wedges to your tea as it may cause it to curdle.
How to brew hot black tea with milk (Chai Tea)?
- Tea Leaves
- Star Anise
- Cinnamon Sticks
Bring the water to a boil with tea leaves, star anise, cinnamon sticks, and crushed cardamom pods.
Let it simmer till the color changes to a robust dark hue.
Strain the spices and tea leaves out of the brew and bring it back to simmer.
Add milk and sugar and stir until the sugar dissolves and the brew reduces.
Serve piping hot into cups.
How to brew cold black tea with milk?
- Tea leaves
- Sugar (Optional)
- Honey (Optional)
- Lemon Wedges (Optional)
Fill a teapot, glass container, or pitcher with water and add tea leaves to it.
Let the brew sit for at least thirty minutes at room temperature.
Place the pitcher in a refrigerator for eight-nine hours and let it steep overnight.
Strain the leaves out and serve.
You can add sugar, honey, or lemon wedges according to your tastes.
Black tea recipes with a twist
Vodka Infused with Black Tea
- Use a funnel or a pair of chopsticks to insert the tea leaves, preferably unflavored for a crisper aftertaste, into a bottle of vodka.
- You can crush the tea leaves with your fingers before inserting them.
- Recap the bottle, shake well and let the leaves steep overnight.
- Strain the leaves from the alcohol by transferring the liquid into another bottle.
- Serve it on the rocks, cool, or use it as a base for cocktails like the “Screwdriver.”
Black tea infused hot Toddy
Need a remedy for cold, cough, a sore throat, or a simple pick-me-up on a cold winter night? A cup of hot toddy can help lift your spirits.
- Add cloves, a stick of cinnamon to a pot of water and bring it just below the boil.
- Before it starts to boil, remove it from the heat and add a tablespoon of black tea leaves.
- Let it steep for four minutes before straining.
- Once strained, add a spoonful of honey and stir.
- Add some rum, whiskey, or brandy over the back of a spoon onto the spice and honey-infused drink.
- You can also add a lemon wedge if you want a citrusy flavor.
Hong Kong milk tea
- Add tea leaves, preferably a bold Ceylon black tea, to water on medium heat.
- Bring it to a low boil and remove it from heat.
- Add sweetened condensed milk and return to heat to bring it to boil.
- Remove from heat and strain the leaves.
- You can enjoy this comforting drink hot, cold, or chilled.
History of Black Tea
Black Tea, as we know it today, was discovered in 17th century China in what can be described as a happy accident. An army from Jianxi district made an unscheduled stop in the Fujian province and camped near a tea factory. This delayed production leaving the tea leaves in the sun longer thereby oxidizing them to a dark red color.Oolong and green teas were primarily favored and consumed by the West until this point in time. However, black tea was cheaper, retained, and improved with time. So, British and Dutch traders started acquiring it. The British discovered a variant of the plant in India that would produce a stronger flavor with higher caffeine content at a much more cost-effective rate. Similarly, the British found fertile ground for tea plantations in Sri Lanka and Africa. The temperatures and topography of these countries especially suited the production of robust teas like Earl Grey and Orange Pekoe.
Black tea was initially sold at high prices to the wealthy aristocracy and came to denote affluence in society. With the passage of time, the prices decreased and tea and the drinking of it became more democratically embedded in the cultures of various parts of the world. Even today, the black tea that is exported to and sold in the US comes from China, Sri Lanka, India, and Africa.
Types of Black Tea and Blends
Assam Black Tea
Grown in the north-eastern state of India, Assam, this black tea is bold, fragrant, and smooth. Slightly tannic at the first sip, it leaves a rich roasted malt aftertaste.
Darjeeling Black Tea
Known among tea lovers as the “Champagne of Tea”, Darjeeling tea comes in four flushes. First (February-May), Second (May-June), Monsoon (July-September), and Autumn (October-November). First flush Darjeeling teas are the most fragrant and freshest. However, for black tea, it is the full-bodied muscatel flavored second flush that is highly favored.
Ceylon Black Tea
Freshly handpicked from the finest tea estates in Sri Lanka, Ceylon black tea robust in flavor and dark-hued. Ceylon black tea has subtle floral and chocolaty nuances and full-bodied citrusy undertones depending on the grade.
Kenyan Black Tea
Kenyan Black Tea is an intense and alluring mix of spicy undertones of cardamom and anise along with fresh citrus and creamy chocolate.
English, Scottish, Or Irish Breakfast Tea
All three blends contain varying combinations of Assam, Darjeeling, Ceylon, and Kenyan black teas. Traditionally, Scottish and Irish breakfast tea blends are stronger than English breakfast tea. The combinations vary to enhance strength, caffeine content, and undertones. Darjeeling black tea provides light, clean flavors while Ceylon tea infuses a soothing sweetness. Meanwhile, Assam and Kenyan teas are more robust. These blends are best enhanced with milk or cream.
Medicinal Properties of Black Tea
The antioxidants in black tea help prevent and reduce inflammation, cardiovascular diseases, and kidney failure. The antioxidants also help reduce high cholesterol levels, high blood pressure and aids in weight loss. Studies show that black tea has antimicrobial properties and promotes helpful bacteria in your digestive tract, reducing the risk of type 2 diabetes, inflammatory bowel disease, and obesity. A healthy digestive system also improves immunity and your resistance to infections.
Also Read- What are the benefits of Black tea?
Choosing the right Black Tea for you
If you like your tea mild but rejuvenating, teakruthi’s Wild Monsoon is the one for you. Caffeinated and with a rich aroma of roasted almonds, this dark gold-hued black tea is made of the finest Orange Pekoe.
Secret Garden with its light orange color and fruity undertones is the perfect pick-me-up. Since it brews quickly, it is better for a hot brew and shouldn’t be steeped for long.
Teakruthi’s Two Seasons can be brewed both hot and cold. With its subtle infusion of peach and ginger, the copper-colored brew is a unique mix of smokey and soothing.
Lemon Kandy with its delicate balance of light, fresh, and tangy flavors is perfect for a cold brew. Its light citrusy flavor is complemented beautifully by its dark orange liquor.
Served cold with ice, Ceylon’s Peach, with its delicate pink hue and dried fruit slices of apples, apricots, and peaches is the perfect drink on a hot summer’s day. Its subtle licorice root and strawberry undertones and mild caffeine content also make it an excellent aperitif or cocktail drink.
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