Black tea is one of the most consumed types of tea in the world, thanks mainly to the fact that it has particular properties that are different from other types of tea. In particular, it is a tea with a high amount of theine (caffeine) and therefore, it is usually consumed at breakfast and lunch.
Although it is a well-known tea, it is perhaps consumed somewhat less than green and red tea, but it is certainly among the consumers’ favourites in its own right. In some countries, however, black tea is clearly the king.
What perhaps not everyone knows, when ordering a black tea in a coffee shop, is the large number of types of black tea and varieties that exist (and that most of the time we do not even bother to know).
So, in this article, we are going to know what are the main varieties of black tea, in case you want to be more explicit in your indications when you go to order it or buy it next time.
What are the main types of black tea?
A distinction must be made between black tea varieties, which are harvests from different regions or different plants, and black tea blends, which are mixtures of several different origins. For example, the well-known Irish Breakfast, Earl Grey or Samovar (Russian Caravan) teas are blends. Darjeeling or Yunnan black tea are varieties, each with a specific origin.
The one presented here is only a summary list of the most important and most consumed worldwide. There are many more, as you can imagine.
Darjeeling black tea
Darjeeling, the region that gives its name to this tea, is an area of India at the foot of the mythical Himalayan mountain range. This is the exclusive origin of this variety, which happens to be one of the most consumed black teas in the world.
It has a very mature flavour, full-bodied and with slight fruity touches, very recognisable (if you are a tea expert, you could recognize a Darjeeling black tea in a blind tasting without any problem).
Darjeeling tea needs less infusion time than other black teas and falls into the group of “strong”, intense teas.
Earl Grey black tea
Earl Grey black tea is not a variety of tea in itself, but a blend of several origins of black tea whose main characteristic is that it is flavoured with bergamot. Bergamot, for those who do not know it, is a citrus fruit similar to lemon and orange, native to the region of Calabria, Italy.
The components of the blend may vary but are almost always black teas from India and Ceylon.
English Breakfast black tea
As its name suggests, English Breakfast black tea is usually drunk exclusively at breakfast. It is a blend or mixture of fairly strong, intense black teas, with a high theine content, generally made up of Chinese and Ceylon teas, although originally it came mainly from Chinese teas exclusively. Subsequently, teas from other origins have been added in small quantities.
There is another variant, called Irish Breakfast black tea, which has slight malty notes and contains a significant amount of Assam tea. It is always recommended to be consumed with a little milk due to its great intensity.
Assam black tea
Assam is another region of India, like Darjeeling, and this is where Assam black tea comes from, which is harvested only twice a year and is characterised by the large size of its leaves, which are much larger than those of Chinese teas. As we have seen before, it is a very aromatic tea that is often used in tea blends such as English and Irish Breakfast or the popular Chai tea.
Due to its great intensity, if you consume Assam black tea on its own (unblended), it is usually brewed at a lower dosage than a normal tea.
Russian Caravan black tea
Russian Caravan black tea is also known as samovar tea (in a clear allusion to the Russian tea samovar, which we have already seen on our website). It is also a blend of black teas from various origins: Lapsang Souchong and Keemun (both of Chinese origin).
It is a very pleasant tasting tea, copper-coloured, sweeter than other black teas, and with very recognisable notes of spices and smoke. It is a purely Chinese tea, although its name is reminiscent of the merchant caravans that extended their route to the Russian borders.
Ceylon black tea (Sri Lanka)
Ceylon, the state now known as Sri Lanka, is one of the world’s largest producers of tea. Ceylon black tea is not usually consumed on its own but is mostly used in blends such as Irish and English Breakfast. It is notable for its reddish colour and distinctive citrus aroma. The qualities and abundance of Ceylon black tea are largely due to the monsoon rains that fall in the regions where it is grown.
NOTE: It should be noted that Ceylon also produces several varieties of green and white teas, not only black.
Yunnan black tea
Yunnan black tea is one of the most characteristic teas in China. It is an expensive tea, not as popular in the West as other black teas on this list, but highly appreciated by connoisseurs. It has a very sweet, exquisite taste, with almost no bitterness, very reminiscent of chocolate. The leaves of Golden Yunnan black tea are medium-sized and very curly.
Golden Yunnan black tea is often seen as a very delicate tea, in contrast to Keemun tea, also of Chinese origin but rather more complex.
Nilgiri black tea
We finish our review of the best black teas in the world with Nilgiri black tea. This is another tea of Indian origin from the region of the Blue Mountains in the south of the country. It is a tea that is not as strong as Assam, amber in colour and is not usually consumed on its own but in blends with other types of black tea.
The best of black tea: Main benefits
The benefits of black tea are very numerous, like any other variety of tea. Still, it is true that as it is not the most consumed tea in some countries (it is popular, but not as popular as green or red teas), perhaps its qualities may go unnoticed by the general public. We are going to make a brief summary in this list to expose the best properties and advantages of black tea.
- We already know that black tea is high in caffeine, so it works very well as a stimulant, helps concentration and maintains a high level of energy for a short period of time.
- It retains the usual antioxidant properties inherent in tea.
- It reactivates circulation because it helps blood vessels dilate and constrict (improving blood flow). It is a vasodilator.
- It includes a high concentration of fluoride, which is good for dental health.
- It is not a fat-burning tea, at least not to the same extent as other types of tea. However, it does have diuretic properties and helps our body not to retain liquids.
- It helps to control cholesterol levels.
- It limits and reduces sugar absorption.
- It has satiating properties, more or less like red tea.
- It is a digestive tea. We can drink it after big meals to help us to reduce heaviness.
- It helps to strengthen bones and prevent osteoporosis in the long term.