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Tea Education


The Benefits of Black Tea 0


     Black tea is one of the most popular teas to drink. Depending on the steeping time, black tea can hold a lot of caffeine. That assisted energy is often what attracts people to this type of tea. But what other benefits, specifically health benefits, can black tea provide in its delicious cup?

     Many studies have revealed that black tea can have a positive impact on heart health. One study published in 2017 showed that there was a reduced risk of ischaemic heart disease when drinking a cup of plain hot black tea every day. The research discovered that this due to the high amounts of antioxidants (flavan-3-ols, flavonols, theaflavins, and gallic acid derivatives) found in black tea. Lowered cholesterol levels were an additional benefit exposed during this research.

     As mentioned above, black tea has a high number of health-promoting flavonoids and theaflavins. Increased levels of flavonoids are often linked to a decreased risk of advanced cancer, specifically prostate and ovarian. A study published in 2016 showed how the theaflavin levels in black tea were able to stop the growth of cells that prohibit cisplatin, an anti-cancer drug, to work properly. Black tea is a natural and less toxic way to diminish cancerous cell growth.

     Black tea is a great beverage to drink when you have a headache or upset stomach caused by digestive issues.  The tannins in black tea can calm inflammation in the intestines, which can help with digestion, and the caffeine levels can ease headaches and promote mental focus. Unlike coffee, which can sometimes make you too energetic from caffeine, tea can be a more balanced energizer. The almost calming effect of black tea can increase alertness while also lowering stress hormone (cortisol) levels.

     How fantastic and convenient it is that something as delicious as black tea can be so healthy for you! The benefits I listed above are the ones that I found most fascinating. There are much more that can be discovered if you decide to do further research. Whether you drink your black tea hot or iced, you can enjoy it, even more, knowing that it is doing your body good.

The History of Black Tea 0

     Black tea, also known as “red tea,” was discovered in China in the mid 17th century. Many years prior, only green and oolong teas were consumed. The story of how black tea came to be is that an army from Jianxi entered the Fujian Province and camped at a nearby tea factory. This unscheduled camping session led to a delay in tea production, and the tea leaves were laid out in the sun for a longer period. The prolonged oxidization caused the tea leaves to turn to a dark red color. To “save” the tea and accelerate the drying process, a farmer placed the leaves over a fire of pine wood, which resulted in a tea that was smoky in flavor. This discovery produced Lapsang Souchong, the original black tea that would soon pave the way for black tea growth in China, and eventually the Western world.

     I mentioned earlier that black tea is also called “red tea.” This is actually China’s name for black tea. Before black tea was established, China already had its tea that they called black tea. This tea is known as Pu-erh tea. Pu-erh tea is a post-fermented tea and comes in both green and black varieties. The Dutch and British traders were the ones who created the label “black tea” for the teas we commonly know as black. In simpler terms, black tea in China is called “red tea,” and black tea in the West is called, “black tea.” Phew!

     Due to the fermentation process, black tea can retain and improve its flavor with age, as well as be preserved for longer periods of time. As you can imagine, this discovery made black tea a hot commodity. When the British traders learned about this tea and its many positive attributes, it was a dream come true, and they purchased all that they could until the market was taken over by the Dutch. This forced the British to explore other ways to acquire black tea and eventually they discovered another category of the Camellia Sinensis plant in India. The teas have a larger harvest at a more cost-effective rate, and the flavor is stronger with much higher levels of caffeine. Teas such as Darjeeling, Earl Grey, and Orange Pekoe were created by British growers in India.

     Similar to the beginnings of green tea in Europe, black tea was sold at very high prices and primarily used by the aristocracy. It became a drink that indicated your wealth and status in society. Princess Catherine introduced black tea to the British palace, and it has become a staple in the life of British royalty ever since. In 1840, the concept of afternoon tea was introduced by duchess Anna Telford. During this time, the prices of black tea became more affordable, and a cup of tea was soon consumed both in the morning and afternoon.

     Today, 90% of all tea sold in the US is black tea. The production of black tea continues to derive from China, India, as well as Sri Lanka and Africa. The accessibility of education and the discoveries of new tea types and arrangements introduces us to the many marvels of black tea. Due to its bold flavor, versatility, and ability to give you a boost of energy, more and more people are falling in love with this “dream tea.”

Black Tea - The Processing Methods & Tea Types 0


     Black tea derives from two different types of the camellia sinensis plant: camellia sinensis-sinensis from China and camellia sinensis-assamica from India. Camellia S.S. has smaller leaves than Camellia S.A., which has large leaves. Both are 100% oxidized. This prolonged oxidization gives the tea their darker appearance. Although the method in which black tea is processed varies from region to region, it is always withered, rolled, oxidized, and dried. There are two primary processing methods for black tea: The Orthodox Method and the CTC (Cut, Tear, Curl) Method. 

     The Orthodox Method is the most popular technique for processing black teas. After the tea leaves are picked, they are laid out to wither in the heat for up to 18 hours. This length of time will reduce the water content of the leaves, causing them to be soft and flexible. A special machine will then press and twist the rolled leaves to initiate the oxidization. When the leaves are oxidized and cut, there is a second round of oxidizing out in the open air. The level of polyphenols in the tea levels will develop during this step, as well as the flavor of the tea. The final stage is drying. This action will occur in a drying machine. After, the oxidization process will be 100% complete. 

     The CTC Method was developed when the tea bag was created in the 1950’s. This process made it so that extensive amounts of tea leaves could be cut into small pieces… tiny enough to fit into tea bags. The CTC Method is similar to the beginning and end stages of the Orthodox Method, except that there is no rolling process in the middle. Instead, the tea leaves are immediately cut, torn, and curled in a rotor-vane machine.

     Black tea is a highly versatile tea due to its varied processing methods. Listed below are the better-known black teas from China and India, some of which we offer at Hackberry Tea…

Tea Types (From China):

Lapsang Souchong: This tea is the original black tea, (read the back story here). It is also the first black tea to be introduced to the West. When Lapsang Souchong is processed, it is cooked over a fire of pine needles. This technique gives the tea its signature smoky flavor.

Keemun Mao Fang: One of the more popular black teas from China and is known as the original “breakfast tea.” It has been passed down for several generations and has a sweet and smoky flavor.

Congou: This tea became very popular in the 19th century and was the original base for the English Breakfast blend. The taste of this tea is slightly sweet, yet rich, and is often used for making kombucha.

 Tea Types (From India):

Assam: Named after the region it was developed, Assam, in India. It is known for its rich body, malty flavor, and bold color. It is often used in blended teas, especially breakfast teas, and is capable of sustaining its structure and flavor with multiple steeps.

Darjeeling: Known as the “champagne of teas.” Some may even argue that it is the world’s best black tea. It comes from the Darjeeling region of India and can vary in flavor depending on when it is harvested. The first harvest, or “flush” as it is also known, occurs in the spring and that is when the tea is most green and popular. Overall, the tea produces a flavor that is delicate, fruity, and floral.

Ceylon: This tea originates from the island nation of Sri Lanka. Due to the different altitude levels and limited space, Ceylon tea can have a variety of flavor profiles. It can be lighter in color, almost golden, with a fruity flavor, or it can be darker with a more bold taste. This tea is often used as a base for Earl Grey.

The Benefits of Green Tea 1

     Green tea is a must have super-food and is considered the healthiest beverage on the planet. This conclusion is primarily due to the extensive amount of vitamins and antioxidants. The unoxidized feature of green tea allows it to have a much higher concentration of chlorophyll, polyphenols, and antioxidants. Research has found that the tea leaves contain bioactive compounds that decrease the production of free radicals in the body that play a role in aging and disease. For this reason, green tea is often used for medicinal purposes. 


     One of the most popular and exciting theories about green tea is that it can burn fat and increase metabolism. Different studies have demonstrated that the consumption of green tea can oxidize fat both in a resting and moderately-intense active state. The majority of the body fat percentage was shown to decrease in the abdominal area. It is important to point out that some studies presented no change in metabolism or fat loss so the effects may vary depending on the individual. 


     Many risk factors for cardiovascular diseases, such as heart disease and stroke, have seen improvement with the consumption of green tea. The antioxidant levels of green tea increase the proficiency of antioxidants in the blood stream, which improves cholesterol and prevents cholesterol particles from decaying. The decomposition of cholesterol particles is one of the causes of heart disease. 


     Along with the physical effects on the body, green tea is known to improve brain function and protect the brain from neurodegenerative diseases. Studies suggest that when consumed consistently, the bioactive compounds in green tea can strengthen the brain and assist in the prevention of plaque formation, which can cause dementia. One study focusing on cognitive functions discovered increased brain activity, improved memory, and greater task performance in patients that drank green tea. 


     This benefits listed above are just a few of the ways green tea can improve our bodies inside and out. No wonder green tea is known as the healthiest drink on the planet. If green tea is not one of your beverages of choice, I would highly recommend making this delicious tea a staple part of your life. 

The History of Green Tea 0

     The origination of green tea began in China tracing all the way back to 2737 B.C. The discovery occurred by accident when the Chinese Emperor Shennong mistakenly drank water that had a dead tea leaf boiled in it. Emperor Shennong found the flavor incredibly refreshing and thus, a new beverage was created. Green tea was primarily available to the highest tiers of Chinese society and was very expensive to purchase. It was not until the 14th century that green tea became accessible to the general public for enjoyment and medicinal purposes.


     Around 800 A.D., during the Tang Dynasty, an innovative book titled, "Cha Jing," also known as "The Classic of Tea" was written by a Chinese man named Lu Yu. When he was a young boy, Lu Yu was adopted by a Buddhist monk and grew up brewing and serving tea. As he grew older, his interest in tea blossomed and his abilities to make tea improved. He decided to take time away from the outside world to research and write down his findings. His book, "The Classic of Tea" became the first written work to explain the culture and art of green tea. 


     The highly-favored green tea eventually traveled West in the 19th century by European explorers. Due to its incredible flavor, it was a huge commodity and became Great Britain's national beverage, along with black tea. Soon after, green tea made its grand appearance on America when it shipped overseas with the settlers. Fun fact: green tea was called "bullet tea" because it resembled the shape of bullets when shipped. The colonists quickly obsessed over the tea and it became so popular that Parliament imposed a Tea Tax in 1767. As we all know from our history books, the colonists were quite upset, and the Boston Tea Party took place. As a result, 45 tons of precious green tea was dumped into the harbor. 


     In the last few decades, the popularity of green tea has steadily increased. At most coffee and tea shops, one can find numerous green tea beverages ranging from a hot jasmine green tea to an iced matcha latte. In addition to its versatile flavors, many health discoveries are taking place due to its high number of antioxidants. It appears that the more we learn about this amazing tea, the more impressive and beneficial it becomes. 

Green Tea - The Processing Method & Tea Types 0

     Green tea is an unoxidized tea made from the leaves and buds of the Camellia Sinensis plant. After the leaves are plucked, they are laid out thinly to dehydrate for 1-2 hours. Green tea is set out for a shorter period so that they do not oxidize and lose their green color. When the moisture evaporates, they transition to the heating process for cooking and curling. The heating methods can vary due to techniques and region. Chinese green teas take the pan firing approach where the tea is pan or wok roasted, leaving them paler in color. The Japanese method is to deep steam the teas, which gives them a brighter green color. The last step is to roll, curl, or twist the tea leaves by hand to wring out any excess water or sap. This part of the process also helps define the different tea types. 


Tea Types (From China):

*There are way more types of green teas than the ones I have listed below. These teas are my favorite and the ones that you will most likely come across. 

Gunpowder: It is the most popular type of Chinese green teas, grown in the Zhejiang Province of China. Gunpowder gets its name because the tea leaves are rolled into tiny pellets and give off a smoky flavor. Find some here.

Dragonwell (Long Jing): Like Gunpowder, this tea grows in the Zhejiang Province of China. The tea leaves are flat, have bright jade hue, and has a clean and mellow flavor. Find some here.

Yun Wu (Cloud & Mist): This tea is grown in the higher altitudes of the Zhejiang Province mountains. Due to the higher elevations, the tea leaves get hovered by clouds resulting in tea flavor that is light and sweet. 


Tea Types (From Japan): 

Sencha: The most common green tea from Japan and one that is often regarded as an "everyday tea." This tea is directly exposed to sunlight and is processed using the boiling (decoction) method, which gives it a bright grassy flavor. Find some here

Jade Dew (Gyokuro): This tea is highly sought after in Japan. The leaves are flat and pointed and unlike Sencha, are grown in the shade. Jade Dew has high levels of chlorophyll and brews a tea that is bright green in color and sweet in flavor. 

Matcha: This is a powdered green tea from the Uji region of Japan. Matcha is made from high-quality green tea leaves that grow in the shade. The grinding process of the whole leaves gives the tea a lot of flavor and texture and much more caffeine than a typical cup of steeped tea.