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Tea Types | Oxidized Tea(Black Tea)

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The black tea you usually drink is “oxidized tea.” This article is all about the most commonly consumed tea: oxidized tea (black tea).

What is oxidized tea (black tea)?

Oxidized tea is a tea whose leaves have been fully oxidized. “Black tea” is oxidized tea.

There are many cultivars and types of tea, but there are basically only two kinds: Chinese and Assam. Most types of oxidized tea are made from Assam tea trees, whose leaves are easier to oxidize.

Features of oxidized tea’s (black tea’s) flavor, aroma, color

Oxidized tea (black tea) is featured by beautiful red color and aromatic, glamorous aroma and flavor. Of course, oxidized tea (black tea) varies a lot in flavor and aroma by the production area’s climate and natural features. In particular, the world’s three major black teas; namely, Darjeeling tea from India, Uva tea from Sri Lanka, and Keemun tea from China have distinctive flavors and aromas, which are totally different from our usual black tea from a plastic bottle or a tea bag. The wide variety features oxidized tea (black tea) and attracts us.

Features of oxidized tea ingredients

Besides the leaf’s original ingredients, oxidized tea (black tea) contains ingredients produced by the oxidation of tea leaves. Theaflavins and thearubigins are representative of the ingredients that produce an aromatic scent and make a beautiful red color of the tea.

Features of oxidized tea process

As its name suggests, oxidized tea is a tea that has undergone oxidation. Black tea goes through the process called rolling to activate oxidative enzymes that are important to produce the tea’s aroma, flavor, richness, and liquid color. Then it undergoes the processes including oxidation, drying, and sorting (grading) to hit the shelves of stores.

Oxidized tea (Black tea)

Lastly, let us see oxidized tea’s production areas and origin.

Major production areas of oxidized tea

In Japan, the mainstream is green tea. In fact, black tea is produced in over 20 countries and accounts for 70% of the world’s tea production. In particular, the following areas are well-known.

India

India is famous for black tea. Its production volume of black tea is by far the largest in the world and amounts to 1 million tons per year.

Darjeeling tea from India is chosen as one of the world’s three major black teas. Its pleasant aroma is praised as “the champagne of black teas.” It is also consumed a lot in Japan. For your information, Assam tea, which is as famous as Darjeeling tea, is also from India.

Sri Lanka

Black tea from Sri Lanka is called “Ceylon tea” and beloved all over the world. In Sri Lanka, where Uva, one of the world’s three major teas, is produced, it is grown mainly around mountain ranges, and its quality is ranked according to its altitude. The production volume of black tea is the second largest in the world and amounts to 320 thousand tons.

Kenya

In Japan, Kenya is often associated with coffee, but in fact Kenya is the world’s third largest tea producer, with 300,000 tons of tea, close to Sri Lanka’s production. Tea is mainly exported to Europe. Kenya has a surprisingly long history, with tea plantations having been cultivated since after World War I.

China

China, which is also the production center of the world’s three major teas, “Keymon,” has a strong impression of Chinese teas such as Oolong tea, but in fact, it is also the birthplace of black tea.

The annual production of black tea is 50,000 tons, which is small compared to other famous tea-producing regions, but in recent years, China has been focusing on black tea production, and its production is rapidly increasing.

Japan

It is less known but Japanese black tea has been produced since the Meiji Period. The high-quality Japanese black tea won a gold prize at an international food competition. It would suit everybody’s tastes with easy-to-drink, mild flavor and aroma.

Indonesia

It is currently the world’s fourth largest producer of black tea, but before its tea plantations were burned during World War II, it was a major tea producing country on par with India. Its characteristics are similar to Ceylon tea, with a mild, unctuous flavor, but it is mainly used for blending as it lacks a little bit of richness. Annual production is 130,000 tons.

The origin of black tea

The history of tea begins in China and dates back to BC, while the history of black tea is relatively new, said to be after 1720.

There are various theories about the origin of black tea, but it is believed that “Wuhan tea,” a semi-fermented tea collected in Fujian Province, became the mainstream tea in Western Europe, and that the black tea we are familiar with today was born through repeated trial and error and development, including increasing the degree of fermentation.

Later, the Assam variety, which is suitable for black tea, was discovered in India, and tea cultivation became active in India and neighboring countries such as Sri Lanka, leading to the global spread of black tea.

References

Manufacturing Process of Oxidized Tea
How to Brew nice Black Tea
What kinds of Ingredients are in Black Tea