Black tea is a type of tea that is more oxidized than oolong, green and white teas. All four types are made from leaves of the shrub (or small tree) Camellia sinensis. Black tea is generally stronger in flavor than the less oxidized teas. Two principal varieties of the species are used – the small-leaved Chinese variety plant (C. sinensis subsp. sinensis), used for most other types of teas, and the large-leaved Assamese plant (C. sinensis subsp. assamica), which was traditionally mainly used for black tea, although in recent years some green and white have been produced.
In Chinese languages and the languages of neighboring countries, black tea is known as "red tea" (紅茶, Mandarin Chinese hóngchá; Japanese kōcha; 홍차, Korean hongcha), a description of the colour of the liquid; the Western term "black tea" refers to the colour of the oxidized leaves. In Chinese, "black tea" is a commonly-used classification for post-fermented teas, such as Pu-erh tea; outside of China and its neighbouring countries, "red tea" more commonly refers to rooibos, a South African tisane.
While green tea usually loses its flavor within a year, black tea retains its flavour for several years. For this reason, it has long been an article of trade, and compressed bricks of black tea even served as a form of de facto currency in Mongolia, Tibet and Siberia into the 19th century. Although green tea has recently seen a revival due to its purported health benefits, black tea still accounts for over ninety percent of all tea sold in the West.
Famous quotes containing the words black and/or tea:
“The lore of our fathers is a fabric of sentences. In our hands it develops and changes, through more or less arbitrary and deliberate revisions and additions of our own, more or less directly occasioned by the continuing stimulation of our sense organs. It is a pale gray lore, black with fact and white with convention. But I have found no substantial reasons for concluding that there are any quite black threads in it, or any white ones.”
—Willard Van Orman Quine (b. 1908)
“I shall sit here, serving tea to friends. . . .”
—T.S. (Thomas Stearns)