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The black tea:
most "bitter" brother among teas!

"Tea is a liquid wisdom",Chinese proverb

See a hint about black tea in the headline?

...That's right! the most unique trait of this tea is its bitterness.Sometimes it's refered as the bitter tea. Name after its taste!

The appearance...?

* has somewhat messy appearance

* dried tea is black

* But the color of tea after brewing is yellowish (with a hint of green)

The fragrance and taste ...?

* smells like heated iron

* tastes extremely bitter

* The bitterness decreases as your palate gets used to the taste

* The English prefer this bitter tea. (it's believed that their palate were able to handle such bittness)

What is special about the processing?

India is the largest tea producer and also consumer. More than 97% of tea production in India is black tea.

This tea is a fully oxidized tea. The processing of this tea involves withering, rolling, fermentation, and drying. The drying process can be done using machine or sunlight, depending on the weather of the country,

During the process of rolling, the tea leaves are broken apart, releasing juices. It's the juice during rolling that gives this tea its fragrance and bitter taste. Oxidation of the leaves actually begin at this stage.

While oxidized, the majority of the tea leaves are twisted. Why is this interesting? It seems chemical change are more prominent in twisted leaves. These leaves give the tea more flavor and aroma when brewed.

But it's the fermentation process that contribute the most to the bitterness, the body, and the color of this tea. This kind of tea can develop 2 different taste depending on how long the fermentation is. 2 tastes are either flavorful or pungent.

Teas that has intemediate between the 2 are viewed as low-quality.

What are the grades of tea?

This tea are graded by size. But the grades don't reflect the quality and flavor of the tea.

2 grades are: leaf grades and broken grades

Between the 2 grades, broken grades occupy 4/5 of the production. Broken grades give stronger, darker, and bolder tea.

Tea grades of this bitter tea are different for different countries. For instance, India and Sri Lanka have Broken Pekoe and Broken Orange Pekoe. While China has Flowery Pekoe and Flowery Orange Pekoe.

How to brew and how it tastes ?

When brewing this kind of tea, the water should be boiled to 210-212 F. To get all of the flavor from the leaves, the brewing time for black tea is 3-5 minutes.

If you are a beginner, this type of tea can be uncomfortably bitter. It feels somewhat like Eastern medicine, but not as bitter. Trust me on this! If you try Eastern medicine, you will truly understand the meaning of bitterness...

When you get used to the bitterness of the tea, you can see that the taste changes from cup to cup. The bitterness gradually decreases while the sweetness becomes more distinguished.

Why Westerner prefers black tea ?

Most of the Western tea are made of black tea. There is a theory that Europeans and Americans have much less sensitive tongue. Thus, they don't feel such bitterness but viewed it as a strong and full-bodied tea.

Another way to explain this theory is that Europeans and Americans prefer this tea because it's more similar to popular foods like chocolate, cake, sodas, and coffee. The similarity lies in the high amount of caffeine this fully-oxidized tea has.

Another reason for the popularity of this strong and bitter tea in the West is due to transportation. This theory states that due to the long journey from the East to West, ancient people chose to export black tea because it could be kept fresh longer.

What are the popular black tea in the West?

3 common types of this bitter tea are: Assam, Ceylon, and Darjeeling black tea. Several popular blends of black tea include: Earl Grey, English Breakfast, and Prince of Wales.

2 common shapes of tea leaves...

* Dark Ball tea:

---Dried tea were rolled into small balls. Quickly dismember when placed in hot water

* Bitter needle tea:

---Rolled into long spiral spikes. Tea has darker yellow color than Dark Ball tea.

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