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Assam Hathikuli black loose-leaf tea Assam Hathikuli Organic

Assam Hathikuli Black

Price: $13.45
Assam full-bodied loose-leaf tea Assam Leopards

Assam Leopards black blend

Price: $13.45
Ceylon Pettigala mild breakfast black tea Ceylon Pettigala

Mild black tea from Ceylon

Price: $13.45
1st Flush Darjeeling FTGFOP-1 that is organic and has a mild, sweet flavor Darjeeling 1st Flush

First flush organic

Price: $22.75
This 2nd flush organic darjeeling tea is smooth and fruity Darjeeling 2nd Flush Organic

Darjeeling 2nd flush organic

Price: $14.35
Dragon black pearls hand rolled from China Dragon Pearls

Hand rolled black

Price: $15.25
Best selling English Breakfast black tea is robust but not bitter English Breakfast

Assam, Nilgiri & Ceylon blend
#1 selling black tea

Price: $13.45
Floral and earthy, with a slight hint of smokiness, our Georgian Old Lady tea was hand picked by a real live Georgian old lady. Georgian Old Lady

Black tea hand picked & processed

Price: $17.25
Complex and flavorful Golden Red organic black tea from China Golden Red Organic

Golden Red Organic Black tea

Price: $19.75
Indochine has a strong flavor and great iced Indochine

Black tea
Great iced

Price: $13.45
SALE: $6.00
Savings: $7.45
Irish Breakfast has a strong flavor and high caffeine. Irish Breakfast

Irish Breakfast Black

Price: $13.45
Kanchanjangha black tea from Nepal has a similar flavor to Darjeeling Kanchanjangha

Black tea medium strength

Price: $14.25
Lapsang Souchong has an intense smokey flavor and aroma Lapsang Souchong

Very smoky black tea

Price: $13.45
Natelas Gold is a unique black hand processed tea from the old Russian republic of Georgia Natela's Gold

Hand processed black tea

Price: $18.75
Rasputin is our own blend of Keemun, Darjeeling and Lapsang Souchong. Rasputin

Smoky black tea blend

Price: $13.45
Russian Caravan black tea blend has a slight smoky flavor. Russian Caravan

Blend of Chinese and Indian black tea

Price: $13.45
Rwandan black tea has a rich full taste that is not too strong. Rwandan

African black tea

Price: $13.45
Scottish Breakfast is a milder blend of black teas from India and Africa. Scottish Breakfast

African black tea

Price: $13.45
Yunnan Gold is a famous tea from China and derives it's name from the color of its leaves. Yunnan Gold

Golden tea

Price: $18.50

Simple explanation of a black tea.

Black tea gets its name from its finished processed color. There are exceptions to this that are still included in the black category but are far from black. My favorite non-black tea color is Darjeeling first flush that is more green/brown because of its early picking and processing. Some others are Yunnan Gold, brown gold color, and some Chinese Red teas that are more of a brown color.

This is a very simple description of the processing of black tea. After picking (plucking) the tea leaves are put in trays in the sun to remove moisture – this is called withering. The leaves are then rolled to break the edges so that they can then be oxidized in a climate control room. Then dried and packaged. Black teas, like Assams, are 100% oxidized in comparison to green & oolongs that are 5 to 50% oxidized.

There are two main types of black processing – orthodox and CTC. The orthodox method is a gentler way of processing the higher quality loose leaf whole teas that has been similar in concept for hundreds of years. The mass production method of cut, tear and curl is the process used for the broken and fannings type small leaf that is used in tea bags. I liken this to the old English penalty for treason of being hung drawn and quartered.

Black teas are brewed longer than other types, around 4 to 5 minutes for loose leaf teas and brewed in boiling water. Water should be as hot as possible and that it why many drinkers heat the teapot before brewing. Because of the processing and the longer brewing times black teas have the highest caffeine levels, 50 to 60 milligrams per 5 oz cup. That is why the breakfast teas, like English & Irish, use one of the highest caffeine teas, Assam, to give the high caffeine to help drinkers start the day. One of the disadvantages of these types of tea is that they are astringent and many people add milk and sugar.

Most of the black teas used in quality breakfast blends come from India and Ceylon (Sri Lanka) . Other countries that are big suppliers are China, Kenya and Rwanda. USA buys most of its black tea from Argentina for use in ice tea that does not have such high quality. Some very expensive black teas can come from Hawaii and the old Russian republic of Georgia. We stock two of their outstanding teas that are hand-picked and hand processed – Georgian Old Lady and Natela’s Gold.

Apart from the Breakfast blend there are afternoon blends and a famous one is a Russian Caravan that consists of Keemum from China and Darjeeling from India. A smoked tea from China, Lapsang Souchong, is to some people like drinking a barbecue fire – great with an Indian Curry.

India uses an alpha method of grading its teas. With the “P” signifying the leaf (pekoe) and then the preface letters showing the quality. There is also, which is very confusing to most people, an “O” before the “P” that stands for orange. Not an orange flavored tea. This dates back to the early importing of tea into Holland and the King of Orange. Without trying to cover all the types, these are two extremes of quality – BOP means a broken leaf and SFTGFOP is a special finest tippy golden flowery orange pekoe.

So having touched on quality what is the difference between tea bags and loose leaf tea. Well firstly the loose leaf tea is in the range of 4 to 20 times more expensive, so a little like wine, some drinkers don’t appreciate the unique special flavors. They should stay with tea bags, especially if they have to put in milk and sugar. Rip open a tea bag to see the type and size of the tea and compare with a loose leaf. Also compare after brewing and you might be surprised or perhaps horrified. There are some good tea bags, some pyramid style loose leaf tea, but the majority are very poor quality. For a good quality loose leaf tea you only have to pay around 50 cents a cup so about the same price as a soda and much healthier.

If you want to find out more about tea check out some of the Tea Articles under our brewing tab.