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Title: Black Tea
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Autumn_Heather
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(Date Posted:02/19/2009 20:37 PM)
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Black Tea

Black tea generally refers to tea whose leaves are heavily oxidized and fermented. It is generally stronger in flavor than other varieties of tea (such as green, white and oolong teas) and generally contains higher caffeine content.

Black tea is not black when poured. The name refers to the color of the leaves, which are black. When poured, Black tea has a dark amber color.

Black tea is able to preserve its flavor for several years - and in the case of Pu-erh Tea, fifty years. Its ability to maintain its flavor has meant that historically, it has been used for trading purposes.

Black tea accounts for around 90% of all tea sold worldwide today.

Varieties of black tea

Black teas are usually named after its region of produce. All varieties of black tea contain a similar level of caffeine. Their taste can vary, but generally black teas are full-bodied and robust.

Some of the more well-known varieties include:

Assam Tea: From Assam, India. Assam tea is known for its malty, full-bodied and fruity flavor. Some Assam tea contains golden tips on the leaves, increasing the sweetness of the taste.

Darjeeling: From the Darjeeling region in India, Darjeeling tea is known as the "champagne of teas". It is known for its spicy and muscatel (grape-like) taste, with the latter one of Darjeeling tea's most famed qualities.

Earl Grey: A black tea blended with bergamot oil, it is the world's most popular tea.

Lapsang Souchong: A Chinese black tea from the Fujian Province, it is dried over burning pine. Lapsang souchong is known for its distinctive smoky taste.

Nilgiri Tea: From the Nilgiri tea in southern India. Nilgiri tea is known for its smooth, brisk taste and versatile nature.
Processing of black tea

Black tea is firstly harvested, and then the leaves are withered using blown air.

Black tea is then processed either through crush and curl (CTC), which is when the leaves are processed en-masse using giant rollers with teeth, or orthodox processing where each leaf is curled separately. Only high-quality tea is processed by hand.

The leaves are then oxidized under controlled temperature and humidity conditions.

When the desired level of oxidation has been reached, the leaves are fired to halt the oxidation process.

The leaves are finally sorted into grades according to their size, using with the use of sieves. The sizes are, from largest to smallest: whole leaf, broken leaf, fanning and dust.

Health benefits of black tea

Black tea is a rich source of antioxidants, which have been linked with cancer prevention, decreased heart disease and lowered cholesterol.

Black tea is rich with antioxidants called polyphenols - or tannin - which is known to prevent damage to cells. Damage to body cells is an early sign of cancer. Tannin is known for its ability to help DNA cells reproduce accurately, thus preventing abnormalities from forming.

More information on black tea varieties

The following pages contain detailed information on many types of black tea, including the characterestics, health benefits and preparation methods of each:

* Amaretto Tea
Find out all about how to prepare Amaretto Tea, a unique blend of black tea and Italian liqueur. Includes information on selecting the right brand of Amaretto.
* Assam Tea
Grown in the Assam region of Northern India, read all about the taste, varieties and preparation of Assam Tea - the largest produced tea in the world!
* Bigelow Tea
Since its inception in 1945, Bigelow Tea has been the best-selling fragrant black tea in the United States. Learn all about the taste and history of Bigelow Tea.
* Blackberry Tea
Made from the blackberry bushes that grow in parts of Europe and North America, Blackberry Tea has many health benefits, including use as a treatment for diarrhea.
* Ceylon Tea
Sri Lanka is another great tea producing region of the world. Read the the fascinating history of the five major varieties of Ceylon Tea and the characteristics of each.
* Chai Tea
Learn all about the meaning of Chai and the ingredients used to make this very popular spiced tea that is taking the world by storm!
* Chinese Black Tea
Read about the many varieties and properties of Chinese Black Tea, many of which are becoming increasingly popular all around the world.
* Earl Grey Tea
Sold in over ninety countries around the world, Earl Grey Tea is the world's most popular tea! Read all about the fascinating history behind this unique British tea and its variations.
* English Tea
The English are renowed around the world for being fanatical tea-lovers. Learn about the properties and history of English Tea.
* Lapsang Souchong
Learn about the taste, appearance, history and production of Lapsang Souchong, one of the strongest varieties of tea in the world.
* Nilgiri Tea
Renowned for its smooth, brisk taste and versatile nature, learn about the processing, properties and preparation of Nilgiri Tea.

Amaretto Tea

Amaretto tea refers to a tea that has been flavored with Amaretto, an Italian liqueur with the distinctive taste of almonds. Amaretto is usually made using apricot or peach kernel pits. The name Amaretto is Italian for "a little bitter", referring to its bittersweet taste.

Amaretto tea is normally made by blending Amaretto with black tea. Amaretto tea can also be made by blending Amaretto with green tea or rooibos tea, but these methods are not as common.

Amaretto brands

The most popular brand of Amaretto is the Amaretto Di Saronno (translated as: "from Saronno"). It is an amber-red liqueur and contains 28.0% alcohol. Amaretto Di Saronno is the main Amaretto that is used to create Amaretto tea.

Amaretto Di Saronno has a long history. It is claimed that this brand of Amaretto was made as a gift by the lover of painter Bernardino Luini in 1525. Luini was commissioned to paint a fresco of the Madonna for the Santa Maria delle Grazie church in Saronno, and had attempted to hire his lover to pose.

Another brand of Amaretto is Lazzaroni Amaretto, also produced in Saronno. Lazzaroni Amaretto has been in production since 1851 and contains 21.0% alcohol.

Preparation of Amaretto tea

There are several methods of making Amaretto tea.

The most popular methods of making Amaretto tea is combining 6 oz of hot tea, with 2 oz of Amaretto and 1 oz of whipped cream. The tea is poured into a pousse-cafe glass (a tall, narrow glass with a small stem and a wide base) with a spoon, to prevent the glass from cracking. Amaretto is then poured into the tea, but it is not stirred. The tea is then topped with whipped cream and is ready for serving.

A variant of Amaretto tea is Amaretto Russian Tea. This is made using 1 oz of vodka, 1 oz of Amaretto and 6 oz of hot tea. Amaretto Russian Tea can be flavored using 2 oz of flavor mix or schnapps.

Assam Tea

Assam tea is an Indian black tea, produced in the Assam region in Northern India. Most of the tea is grown by the Brahmaputra River. The Assam region is the world's largest tea growing area, with over 800 estates, and Assam tea is the world's most produced tea.

While the Assam region has wild tea plants, these do not produce a palatable brew. Modern-day Assam tea is harvested from plants that are a hybrid of native Assam plants and Chinese tea plants.

Assam tea is known for its malty, full-bodied, robust flavor and strong, bright color. There is also a sweet, fruity taste to the tea. Assam Tea has distinctive brown and gold leaves which appear orange when dried. Some Assam Tea has golden tips on the leaves, which increases the sweetness of the tea.

Varieties of Assam tea

There are three varieties of Assam tea, depending on when it is harvested.

Assam tea that is picked from March to May is known as first flush. March is when the Assam tea bushes begin to grow. First flush Assam tea is known for its strong, fresh flavor. First flush Assam tea is the lightest of the varieties.

Second flush Assam tea is picked from June, with the main production taking place between July and September. Second flush Assam tea has a strong, creamy and malty taste and a dark-red color. Some second flush Assam tea may also have a spicy tinge to its taste.

Generally, second flush Assam tea is sweeter in taste than first flush Assam tea, and is the most prized harvest for importers in Europe and North America.

Second-flush Assam tea is also the most abundant of the varieties, as it is harvested during the monsoon season.

Assam tea harvested from October to early December is known as the winter harvest (despite the harvest time being in autumn!), or end-season harvest.

Assam tea may come as full leaf, broken leaf, or with golden tips.

Preparation of Assam tea

To fully enjoy Assam tea, the following method of preparation is recommended.

Firstly, the tea pot should be warmed with hot water before use. After warming, place one teaspoon of Assam tea into the bottom of the pot.

The water should be allowed to boil thoroughly before being poured.

Assam tea generally requires only 3-4 minutes brewing. If the tea is left for longer than 5-6 minutes, it will become bitter.

Assam tea is recommended with milk and sugar.

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Autumn_Heather
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RE:Black Tea
(Date Posted:02/19/2009 20:38 PM)

Ceylon Tea

Ceylon tea refers to tea that originates from the island of Sri Lanka, located south of India. Sri Lanka was formerly known as Ceylon, and the tea refers to the past name.

Sri Lanka is a mountainous island and as a result, Ceylon tea is grown at a variety of altitudes, and Ceylon tea has a variety of flavors. Tea is grown from 2500 feet to over 6000 feet. It is said that the best Ceylon tea is grown at 4000-5000 feet.

Ceylon tea is mainly black tea, but recently tea estates have experimented with both green and oolong teas.

History of Ceylon tea

For many years, the main crop produced on Ceylon was coffee. However, after coffee crops were decimated by a fungus in 1869, the remaining estate owners were forced to diversify into tea to survive.

Several bankrupt tea estates were bought by Sir Thomas Lipton, whose company, Lipton Tea, eventually became one of the largest tea companies in the world. At one point, Lipton Tea owned over twenty tea estates on the island.

Until 1971, over 80% of the tea estates on the island were owned and managed by British companies. This changed when the Sri Lankan government initiated the Land Reform Act which gave control of the majority of estates to the government. However, since 1990 private interests have become more involved in the management of the estates.

Estates and varieties of Ceylon tea

There are five estates and five broad varieties of Ceylon tea.

* Dimbula is a region that is drenched by the monsoon during August and September. The best teas from this region are from the dry months of January and February. Dimbula is a Ceylon Tea noted for its strength and powerful aroma. The tea is recommended with milk.
* Galle is located in the southern part of the island. Tea from this region has regular-sized leaves and has a golden appearance when brewed. Galle tea is known for its gentle, subtle taste, and is recommended with milk.
* Nuwara Ellya is noted as the best quality Ceylon tea. Tea from the Nuwara Ellya region has a bright flavor and the liquid has a golden appearance. Tea from this region is best drunk with little or no milk.
* Uva is a region to the east of the central mountains and produces tea with a mellow flavor. The best teas from this region are harvested between June and September. The Ceylon Tea from this region are copper colored, with a smooth taste and is complimented well with milk.
* Ratnapura is a region that produces low-quality Ceylon tea. The tea grown from this region is mainly used as part of blends, but some are also sold alone. Tea from this region has a long-leaved appearance and a gentle, smooth taste. They can be drunk alone or with milk.

Chai Tea

Chai refers to spiced tea from India. The word chai means tea, and therefore it is unnecessary to refer to Chai as Chai Tea.

Another term for chai is Masala Chai. This term is sometimes used as chai is a generic term for tea in many languages. For instance, the Chinese term for tea is 'cha', which is phonetically similar to chai.

Chai tea is very popular in India and is steadily gaining popularity around the world. Chai is not a type of tea by itself, but is rather a class of tea due to the wide variety and the fact that is technically a mixture.

Chai is generally a mixture of strong black tea, milk, various spices and a sweetener. Strong tea is used so that the other ingredients would not overpower the tea. Plain white sugar can be used as a sweetener, although unprocessed sugar, molasses, honey can also be used.

For spices, the most common elements are cardamom, cinnamon, ginger, peppercorn and cloves. Other spices such as nutmeg, chocolate and licorice are also used, but to a lesser extent.

Chai can also be made using green tea - this is known as green chai - but because of green tea's weaker flavor, only certain spices are used in its making.

Spices used to make Chai tea

The most common spices used are:

Cardamom: A fragrant spice that comes in green and black varieties. The green variety is used for chai te. It is recommended that cardamom should be heated in a hot pan before use, to ensure that the full aroma is brought out.

Cinnamon: For chai tea, cinnamon chunks or sticks is recommended.

Cloves: Whole cloves are used for chai, and usually one or two is enough for a large pot.

Pepper: Whole peppercorns should be used - they should be ground when necessary.

Ginger: A root, ginger has a strong spicy flavor reminiscent of citrus.

Other spices that are used in chai tea include:

Ajwain: A strong, bitter spice used to aid digestion.

Allspice: A spice that, like its name suggests, tastes like a combination of pepper, cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves. It comes as berries, which should be crushed just before use.

Coriander: Taken from the seed of the cilantro plant, it has a sweet taste similar to citrus peel. They should be roasted and grounded when used in making chai.

Chocolate: For chai tea, unsweetened dark chocolate is mostly used.

Fennel: Used as a breath freshener and digestive aid, fennel can be either crushed or used whole.

Licorice: A sweet, strongly-flavored root spice, it is often available in teabag form.

Nutmeg: This spice is commonly used for cooking as a topping. Nutmeg has a subtle flavor similar to a mixture of cinnamon and pepper. If used in chai, it should be added just before drinking, as nutmeg quickly loses its flavor when heated.

Vanilla: Beans are recommended as they offer the best aroma and taste. The seeds should be removed from the beans before use. Vanilla extracts should only be used if it is a pure extract.

Tea used in chai

There are several black teas that can be used in making chai.

Darjeeling tea, with its light taste, works well in combination with subtle spices such as cardamom.

For strongly-flavored Chai, Assam and Keemun teas are recommended. Both are strong-tasting teas that will not be overwhelmed by spices such as ginger. Keemun tea in particular adds a cocoa overtone to Chai. Another tea that is recommended is Nilgiri Tea, which is versatile enough to suit most spices.

Green chai tea

A version of chai that is becoming popular is green chai tea, made from green tea. Green tea is a tea that is gaining popularity due to its light, refreshing taste, and it is not surprising that green chai has also developed.

Green chai is also popular with those who do not like the strong tastes of black tea, used for usual chai. However, only subtle spices are used in making green chai tea, due to the green tea's weaker taste. Spices used for green chai include nutmeg.

Chinese Black Tea

Chinese black tea is black tea that originates from China. Chinese black tea is mainly drunk in the west and northwest of China, although it has also gathered popularity in Western markets.

Chinese black tea is known as "hong cha" in Chinese, or "red tea". This name more appropriately describes the color of the liquid, although in the West, the term "red tea" is reserved for Rooibos tea, a South African tea made from the rooibos plant.

Chinese Black Tea originates from the Fujian province of China, but other provinces have also produced black tea.

The taste of Chinese black tea differs between varieties. There is quite a range of tastes, from the fruit-like textures of Keemun Tea, to the fine quality of Yunnan Tea and the very strong Lapsang souchong.

Varieties of Chinese black tea

There are many varieties of Chinese black tea. The main varieties are Lapsang souchong, Keemun tea and Yunnan tea.

Lapsang souchong is the strongest Chinese black tea, and one of the strongest of the tea varieties. The leaves are a dark with a golden tip, and Lapsang souchong has a bold, assertive and smoky flavor.

The smoky flavor of Lapsang souchong comes from its unorthodox method of production - it is withered and dried over burning pine or cedar.

Keemun tea is a Chinese black tea with a fruity, wine-like taste. Like Lapsang souchong, there is a hint of pine in its taste. It originates from the Anhui Province and has a relatively brief history, with its first production in 1875. Some varieties of Keemun tea are bitterer than others.

Yunnan tea is from the Yunnan Province in southern China. It has a robust and malty taste, and the best Yunnan tea are noted for their fineness. There are three varieties of Yunnan tea, and the best variety contains only the golden tips of leaves.

Yunnan tea should be brewed carefully, as it is a Chinese black tea that can easily taste bitter.

Pu-erh tea and Chinese black tea

It is a common error to say that Pu-erh Tea is a variety of Chinese black tea. The mistake is commonly made because Pu-erh tea has a similar appearance to Chinese black tea, with the leaves being black.

However, Pu-erh tea is technically not a Chinese black tea. The processing method is different and Pu-erh tea cannot be made from Chinese black tea. Pu-erh also does not pour red like Chinese black tea, but rather pours dark brown to black.

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RE:Black Tea
(Date Posted:02/19/2009 20:46 PM)

Earl Grey Tea

Earl Grey tea is a black tea blended with bergamot oil - a bergamot is a small, acidic orange, and the oil is extracted from the rind.

Earl Grey tea has a bright, refreshing taste. A versatile tea, Earl Grey can be served hot, either by itself or with milk and sugar, and can also be used to make iced tea. Sold in over ninety countries around the world, Earl Grey is the world's most popular tea.

History of Earl Grey tea

Earl Grey tea is named after Charles Grey, the second Earl Grey and Prime Minister of the United Kingdom in the 19th century.

The story of Earl Grey tea is enshrouded in legend. The most common version of the legend says that the Earl received a gift of bergamot-flavored tea in 1834, from a Chinese mandarin during a visit to China. One version of the story attributes the gift as a diplomatic pre-requisite, while another version attributes the Earl as saving the mandarin's son from drowning and was offered a gift in gratitude.

The tea became very popular in the Prime Minister's drawing room. Twinings, Earl Grey's tea merchants, were given a sample of the tea and were asked to create a similar match. The family gave permission for the blend to be sold to the public, and the Twinings blend includes Chinese tea, Indian Darjeeling, Ceylon tea and Lapsang souchong, a strong-tasting and smoky black tea.

Earl Grey tea variations

A similar tea to Earl Grey is the Lady Grey. Like the Earl Grey, the Lady Grey is a black tea blend, but with Seville orange and lemon as well as bergamot in the mixture. Another similar tea is the Earl Green tea, which uses green tea instead of black. Earl Green is said to be a milder version of Earl Grey.

Another tea company, however, claims to be the originator of Earl Grey. Jacksons of Piccadilly claim that the Earl had given the recipe to them in 1830. According to Jacksons, this recipe has been in constant production since then, and has never left their hands. The Jacksons recipe uses Chinese tea exclusively.

Contrary to popular belief, the name Earl Grey does not mean the tea is of good quality! Some brands of Earl Grey use a heavy amount of bergamot oil to mask the inferior quality of their black tea. It is always recommended that the tea is bought from a quality company, and is tasted before purchase.

Lapsang Souchong

Lapsang souchong is a black tea from the Fujian province in China. Historically considered a "man's tea", Lapsang souchong (or lapsang for short) is considered to be one of the strongest varieties of tea.

"Souchong" means sub-variety, to differentiate Lapsang souchong from other black teas in the region.

Lapsang souchong tea leaves are dark with a golden tip. Lapsang souchong has an amber-red color when brewed. Lapsang souchong has a bold, assertive and smoky flavor, with a touch of a sweet fruit from China called longan. Lapsang souchong is said to be the best compliment to spicy or salty foods.

Lapsang souchong is used as part of Earl Grey tea.

Some drinkers have purported that Lapsang Souchong is especially suited for drinking after intense physical activity, such as hiking, distance running or rock climbing.

History of Lapsang Souchong

A legend claims that Lapsang souchong was discovered by accident.

During the Qing dynasty, one army camped in a tea factory one evening, while there were fresh leaves waiting processing. After the soldiers had left, the tea workers realized there was not enough time for the leaves to dry before they could arrive at the market on time. To hasten the drying process, the workers lit pine wood and hung the leaves over the fire.

The tea did arrive at the market on time, and did far better than the workers had anticipated. The smoked flavor created a sensation, and the tea quickly became well-known.

Production of Lapsang Souchong

Lapsang souchong is oxidized for a long time, and undergoes several stages of production.

After the leaves are harvested, they are withered over pine or cedar fires, before being pan-fried, rolled and fully oxidized. After the leaves are oxidized, the Lapsang souchong is then placed in bamboo baskets and fully dried over burning pine.

Due to the amount of burning involved in the production of Lapsang souchong, the tea has sometimes been described has having an "oak" flavor.

Nilgiri Tea

Nilgiri tea is a black tea produced from the Nilgiri region, in southern India. The Nilgiri region - or the "blue mountains" - is a mountainous region, where tea is grown from 1000 meters to 2500 meters above sea level. Tea has been grown in Nilgiri since the late 1800s.

Due to the elevation at which the tea is grown, plus the rainfall which varies between 100 and 600 centimeters a year, the conditions promote the growth of a tea with a distinctive and brisk flavor.

Nilgiri tea is known as a robust, smooth and versatile tea that can be used in a variety of situations, both by itself and as part of a mixture. Nilgiri tea is known as one of the most distinctive-tasting teas. Some varieties have a taste reminiscent of lemons.

By itself, Nilgiri tea can be drunk with or without sugar or milk and can be made into iced tea. As part of a mixture, Nilgiri tea can be used to make Chai, as its strong taste can compliment subtle spices and is not overwhelmed by stronger spices.

When poured, Nilgiri tea has dark amber color.

Production of Nilgiri tea

Nilgiri Tea is processed using the "crush, tear and curl" (CTC) method. Leaves processed using the CTC method are not rolled, but are placed through cylindrical rollers with small teeth. The rollers crush, tear and curl the leaves, hence the name of the method.

CTC was developed during the Second World War to increase the weight of tea that can be packed into a bag or sack. With the popularity of tea bags, this method has also grown in popularity.

Tea processed using CTC tend to brew faster and yields more cups of tea per kilogram. The brewed tea often tends towards a red color, such as the case with Nilgiri tea.

Preparation of Nilgiri tea

When preparing Nilgiri Tea, one teaspoon should be used per 6 oz. cup. The water should be boiled thoroughly before being poured, and the tea should be allowed to brew for 3-4 minutes.

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