Black tea is a type of tea that is more oxidized than oolong, Pu-Er, Green Tea, white and yellow teas. Black tea is generally stronger in flavor than the less oxidized teas. All six types are made from leaves of the shrub (or small tree) Camellia sinensis.
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,
- 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.
Black tea is made from leaf that has been fully oxidized, producing a hearty deep rich flavor in an amber colored liquor.
In Chinese and the languages of neighboring countries, black tea is known as “red tea” a description of the color of the liquid; the Western term “black tea” refers to the color of the oxidized leaves.
It is the oxidation process, oxygen coming into contact with the enzymes in the tea leaf, that creates black tea. Black teas have a fuller and richer flavor than unprocessed green teas.