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What is Black Tea, Types and Benefits of Black Tea

Mar 25,2024 | TeaTsy Team

Black tea, known for its strong and concentrated taste, is a widely enjoyed beverage derived from the leaves of the Camellia sinensis tree. This type of tea undergoes a specific process including harvesting, withering, rolling, oxidation, and drying, with oxidation being crucial in developing its distinct flavor and dark color. Popular for its variety of flavor profiles, black tea is a favorite among tea enthusiasts worldwide.

Black tea, also known as red tea, has a very strong and concentrated taste compared to any other tea. For a better understanding of black tea, we have prepared a complete guide below.

History of Black Tea 

The recorded history of black tea dates back to the late Ming and early Qing dynasties in China, around the 17th century. Legend has it that black tea was a byproduct of a desperate tea transportation crisis that originated in Fujian Province, where a shipment of tea was blocked due to unexpected bureaucratic delays and tea merchants were forced to abandon the tea leaves in the sun.

When the obstruction was finally resolved a few days later, they discovered that the tea had wilted and darkened in color due to prolonged exposure to the sun. To save the spoiled goods, the merchants decided to fry the tea leaves. What they didn't know was that this process initiated oxidation, transforming the tea leaves into what is recognized as black tea.

Over time, black tea began to become a regular feature of Chinese tea sets, and English and Dutch traders began exporting it to Europe and elsewhere, making it one of the most popular traditional teas in the Western world.

The main reason for black tea's popularity is its long shelf life and stability during transportation, characteristics that surpass other tea varieties. Black tea accounts for more than 90% of the tea sold in the United States. If you are traveling to the United States and like to drink black tea, all you need to bring is a traveling tea set!

traveling tea set

Types of Black Tea

Black tea has become a cross-cultural phenomenon because of its diverse range of processing methods. This has brought about a wide variety of flavors and types accustomed to different origins, blends, and processing methods. The following are the different types of black tea. 

Chinese Black Tea 

China is described as the pioneer country of tea, where almost every type of tea originated. This is attributed to the various historical precedents that buttress its case. Hence, the wide varieties of black tea you find here are of premium quality. 

Keemun Tea 

Keemun tea is a smooth and mellow variant of black tea characterized by its touch of orchids and fruits. It is one of the most sought-after types of black tea among tea lovers in Asia and, most importantly, Europe. 

Lapsang Souchong or Zhengshan xiaozhong Tea 

This is another special type of black tea with smoky flavors like pine resin, wood smoke, smoked paprika, and others. Lapsang souchong black tea originated from the Wuyi region of Fujian Province and has been mostly described as smoky. It goes well with milk or any other condiment. 

Dian Hong Tea 

Dian Hong, or golden Yunnan tea, is a high-end Chinese black tea with golden buds contributing to its sweetness. It has a slight cocoa, honey, or caramel taste and can be enjoyed with milk or sugar. 

Indian Black Tea 

This is another region with high-quality black tea. Black teas found in this country are classified based on their brisk aroma, floral, and awesome strong character, making them ideal for breakfast blends. 

Assam Tea 

It is a unique black tea widely regarded for its inclusion of plant compounds like theaflavin, catechin, and other antioxidants. Originating from the Assam region of India, this type of black tea is known for its briskness, maltiness, and strong flavors. 

Darjeeling Tea 

This type of black tea is widely regarded as the champagne of tea due to its light, floral, and muscatel flavor. Darjeeling tea follows a distinctive model of tea-making, with the tea leaves harvested in four different stages. 

Originating in the Himalayas, Darjeeling tea’s citrus-like taste and other qualities make it the most expensive tea in the world. 

Sri Lankan Black Tea 

Sri Lankan black tea is known for its burnt sugar flavor with delicate floral top notes. The quality of black teas in this category is related to the relative amount of polyphenols present in the tea, which makes it ideal for healthy living. 

Ceylon Tea 

Ceylon is a Sri Lankan brand of black tea that is well revered for its controlled production and can only be found in the value-refined form. 

Due to its high polyphenol content, Ceylon black tea is an effective tea that can be used to regulate blood sugar levels. Also, Ceylon black tea has a very strong citrus and spicy taste, making it a good tea for everyday occasions. 

Health Benefits of Black Tea 

Black tea is a special brand of traditional tea that is associated with an enormous amount of health benefits. The beneficial effect of taking black tea can be attributed to the abundance of theaflavin and other groups of antioxidants. The following are the health benefits of drinking black tea. 

Reduce Bad Cholesterol 

Habitual intake of black tea is associated with reduced bad cholesterol in the body. According to a publication by the National Institute of Health, five servings of black tea can reduce approximately 6.5% of bad cholesterol in your body. 

This is possible due to the abundance of flavonoids and other polyphenolic compounds present in black tea. Remember, a high level of low-density lipoprotein cholesterol is a major cause of cardiovascular diseases such as heart disease, stroke, and many others. 

Black Tea Enhances Your Mental Alertness and Focus. 

Improved focus and mental alertness are key factors that set the pace for your productivity. Black tea consists of two high-performance compounds, namely caffeine and L-thiamine. These properties have been demonstrated to be effective at suspending the effect of stress-induced neurotransmitters. 

Caffeine and L-thiamine work in tandem with each other. For instance, caffeine boosts your overall energy while the amino acid L-theanine supplies the calming presence that regulates and removes any jittery experience that might ensue. 

Decrease Blood Sugar Levels 

Regular Black tea consumption can break down your excess sugar into glucose due to its incredible amount of antioxidant properties. This is a result of the secretion of insulin that necessitates this conversion. 

Decreasing blood sugar levels is an important factor that helps manage diabetes and pre-diabetes, most importantly, those with type 2 diabetes. 

Reduced Risk of Certain Types of Cancer 

The anti-cancer potential of black tea can be traced to the presence of some polysaccharide that consists of anti-cancer properties that inhibit the development of pancreatic, colon, lungs, tongues, and other types of cancer. 

There are many different kinds of working mechanisms in black tea that have been cited as containing anti-cancer properties. Another antioxidant in black tea is Theabrownin, which is found to be potent at fighting against lung cancer. 

Also cited are the anti-oxidative and anti-inflammatory properties of black tea. These properties also showcase some efficacy in curbing any inflammation that can lead to cancer. 

Protect Cell Damages 

Black tea's richness in antioxidants is a viable tool that reduces the damaging effect of free radicals on your body cells. The majority of experimental research models have found that polyphenols and catechin properties in black tea can be effective chemopreventive agents. 

Remember, the excesses of free radicals in the body often result in damaged cross, leading to various chronic diseases like cancer, stroke, kidney problems, and other cardiovascular diseases. Therefore, regular consumption of black tea will provide you with the necessary antioxidants that mitigate the effect of these free radicals. 

How Should I Choose the Right Black Tea for Me?

 tea set

When choosing black tea, different people may need to consider different factors according to their personal taste preference, health condition, and consumption purpose:

Taste Preference

  • Lovers of strong flavors: you can choose traditional Assam black tea or Sri Lankan Uva black tea, which usually has strong flavors with fruity or woody notes.
  • Lovers of mild flavors: try Darjeeling black teas or Chinese Keemun black teas, which are relatively mild in flavor, with floral or fruity aromas and a more delicate taste.

Health Considerations

  • Need a pick-me-up: Black tea contains caffeine, which can boost your spirits and concentration, making it suitable for people who need to work or study for long hours.
  • For those who suffer from indigestion: black tea has a digestive effect and can be consumed in moderation after meals to promote food digestion.
  • People who need to reduce caffeine intake: you can choose decaffeinated black tea, or reduce the caffeine content by reducing the brewing time.

Special Needs

  • People who want to lose weight: You can choose plain black tea without added sugar or milk, as it is low in calories and helps to increase metabolism.
  • People pursuing a high quality of life: you can choose single-bush black tea or organic black tea, which is usually lower in production and higher in quality, and is more ecological and health-conscious.
  • Tea art enthusiasts: you can choose whole-leaf black tea to experience the traditional process of tea brewing and enjoy the aroma of the tea while experiencing the art of tea brewing.


Black tea has a rich history, variety, and health benefits for every taste and preference. From rich Assamese black teas and floral Darjeeling black teas to smoky lingonberry black teas, each black tea takes on a distinctive flavor and aroma due to its unique terroir and processing methods.

Whether you're a longtime tea enthusiast or a newcomer to the world of tea, give black tea a try!

If you want to know more about tea: for example how long does tea last? Or benefits of green tea you can click on them.