China's black tea is not the same a black tea in the West (which is called red tea in China). 'Black tea' in China is also known as fermented tea or dark tea. It originates from China and was introduced to India and Sri Lanka by merchants in the 19th century.
It is made from the leaves of the tea shrub (Camellia sinensis) after the processes of withering, rolling, fermenting, and drying. It is much more oxidized and stronger in flavor than green tea and white tea. Actually, the infusion of black tea is red; however, its oxidized leaves are black, hence its name.
Generally speaking, black tea is processed in two ways in China: CTC (crush, tear, and curl) and orthodox. Each has its own style and both go through the following four processes:
The newly-picked tea leaves are first withered by blowing air onto them until their veins are transparent.
The withered leaves are rolled into strips either by a rolling machine or by hand. The rolling machine process results in a mixture of whole leaves, broken leaves, and fine particles. The hand process is used for producing high-quality tea, which is highly valued by tea tasters and blenders.
As the most important step in making black tea, fermentation refers to the process where rolled leaves are oxidized under a suitable temperature and humidity for five to six hours, after which the leaf veins turn reddish-brown owing to the oxidizing action.
The newly-fermented leaves are supposed to be baked at a temperature of about 80°C (176°F) for six hours or so, and can be packed after they cool down.
Black tea is planted in different provinces of China and has many varieties but there are three main types: Xiao Zhong black tea, Gongfu black tea, and Broken black tea.
As the oldest black tea of China, Xiao Zhong black tea is further divided into Zheng Shan Xiao Zhong and Waishan Xiao Zhong, of which the former is planted in Tong Mu Guan, Wuyi Mountain, Fujian Province, and it's divided into an oriental flavor and a Western flavor. Waishan Xiao Zhong is planted in the counties of Zhenghe, Tanyang, Gutian, and Shan, in Fujian Province.
Gongfu black tea is native to China. Gongfu has two meanings, one of which refers to the fact that more effort is supposed to be made in the infusion of black tea, and the other refers to the fact that you should take your time to fully enjoy the tea.
Gongfu black tea has many varieties, each of which has its own unique flavor and is often named after the region where it's produced. Listed below are the famous brands of Gongfu black tea, for your reference.
|Tea Brands||Production Regions|
|Qimen Gongfu Black Tea (祁门工夫红茶)||Qimen County, Anhui Province|
|Dianhong Gongfu Black Tea (滇红工夫红茶)||Lincang, Baoshan, and Fengqing in Yunnan Province|
|Minhong Gongfu Black Tea (闽红工夫红茶)||Fujian Province|
|Huhong Gongfu Black Tea ( 湖红工夫红茶)||Anhua, Changsha, Lianyuan, Liuyang, Taoyuan, and Pingjiang in Hunan Province|
|Ninghong Gongfu Black Tea (宁红工夫红茶)||Xiushui, Wuning, and Tonggu in Jiangxi Province|
|Chuanhong Gongfu Black Tea (川红工夫红茶)||Yibin and Ya'an in Sichuan Province, and Chongqing|
|Yihong Gongfu Black Tea (宜红工夫红茶)||Yichang and Enshi in Hubei Province|
|Yuehong Gongfu Black Tea (越红工夫红茶)||Shaoxing, Zhuji, and Sheng counties in Zhejiang Province|
|Fuliang Gongfu Black Tea (浮梁工夫红茶)||Jingdezhen, Jiangxi Province. Jingdezhen was called Fuliang in ancient times.|
|Xianghong Gongfu Black Tea (湘红工夫红茶)||Shimen, Cili, Sangzhi, and Dayong in west Hunan Province|
|Taiwan Gongfu Black Tea (台湾工夫红茶)||Wenshan District, Taibei, Taiwan|
|Yuehong Gongfu Black Tea (粤红工夫红茶)||Chao'an, Guangdong Province|
|Tieguanyin Gongfu Black Tea (铁观音红茶)||Huangbo Village, Lantian Town, and Anxi County in Fujian Province|
Broken black tea is widely planted in the provinces of Yunnan, Guangdong, Hainan, and Guangxi, and it's mainly grown for export. Broken black tea is classified into various types according to its shape, including tablet tea, fanning tea, and dust tea.
Black tea is a tasteful beverage with potential health benefits. You'll end up with a tea that's too bitter and strong to drink if you're not familiar with the basic techniques. Here are five steps to make a perfect cup of black tea:
Before making a cup of black tea, you're supposed to get a clean tea set (such as a teapot, faircup, and cups), tea, and a kettle of boiling water prepared.
Measure out the desired amount of black tea leaves (3 to 5 grams for 150 to 250 ml of tea) and put them in the cup or teapot.
Boil the water and pour it into the cup. If a teapot is used, you're advised to fill 80% of the teapot with water (to avoid spillage when pouring).
As the tea cools down, you can fully enjoy its delicious taste.
Fujian Province is a province located in southeast coastal area with the capital city is Fuzhou and the short name is Min (闽，mǐn). In China, it is one of the earliest open provinces for foreign trade.
In addition, Fujian is a origin of varieties teas. There are many famous tea in Fujian: Keemun black tea, Oolong tea, Huangshan Mofeng tea (Yellow Mountain Fur Peak) and Anxi Tieguanyin (Iron Goddess of Mercy) tea.