The finest black teas are prepared exactly like green teas, from the first two leaves and a bud. The gathered leaves are left to dry for 12 - 18 hours on mesh screens. Following withering, the leaves are rolled in order to break down the cells and to develop the flavour of the tea. Th is also facilitates the commencement of fermentation, helping to develop the taste and aroma compounds. Furthermore, it lends the tea strength and briskness, and the leaves then change colour from green to brown. All the substances tend to be soluble only in hot water, so black teas differ from green teas in that water at near boiling temperature is used. Additionally, fermentation extends the shelf life of tea.
According to the size of leaves, black teas are divided into the following categories - whole leaf, broken leaf grades, fannings and dust. Leaf teas, which are mainly sold in loose form, comprise only 2% of global tea production.
Black tea sharpens the intellect, cheers one up, eases understanding, impedes sleep and invigorates the body. It ontains a large number of miscellaneous substances that have an effect on its aroma, taste and colour, in addition to influencing the human organism. One of the most signifi cant is caffeine, the average content of which is 4%. Black tea is characteristic for its stronger aroma than other less oxidised teas.
Tea has only been grown in India since the turn of the 19th century. Today the country accounts for approximately a third of global production, and Indian teas are considered some of the best in the world. Its tea gardens are typically found in the regions of tropical Assam, Darjeeling with plantations stretching up to the altitude of 2,500 metres above sea level, Sikkim, Dooars and mountainous and rainy Nilgiri.
The first tea plants were planted by white settlers in 1903 as an experiment in Limur, in Kiambu County. Production gradually increased, hence tea became an important economic crop for the country. Consequently, in 1964, the Kenya Tea Development Agency (KTDA) was established, forming an association of small farmers, with the aim to support growth of the crop. Currently, tea is mainly grown in Kenya's mountains at altitudes from 1,520 to 2,750 m.a.s.l. The majority of the leaves are processed in the CTC method for the subsequent production of tea bags. A smaller quantity is used to make orthodox teas that then are exported worldwide.
The Himalayan kingdom is actually a relatively recent tea producer. Most teas are manufactured in the orthodox method, complying with modern ecological standards. Due to the humid climate, Nepalese tea resembles that of Darjeeling, the conditions imbuing the tea with its nature and making it rich in antioxidants.
Climatic conditions for growing tea in Sri Lanka are highly favourable. Ceylon teas are classified by altitude, being ranked as Low Grown (less than 650 m above sea level), Medium Grown (650 - 1,300 m above sea level) and High Grown (above 1,300 m). A significant region is Nuwara Eliya, the uppermost location from which the finest teas come from, while another is Dimbula - the dry weather in January and February encourages teas of the highest quality to grow.
China is the real home of tea, and tea is grown there in all provinces in the centre and south of the country. The best teas originate at the altitudes of 1,000 - 2,500 m. Yunnan, the south-western province of China, is actually considered the cradle of tea, as it was from there that the plant was taken to other countries. Chinese black teas are distinctive for their highly aromatic and mild taste, and are solely intended for export.
How to prepare black tea: Select good pure water. Boil it, then let it cool for a minute - it needs to be around 90°C. Pour 2 grams of black tea leaves for every 250 ml. Infuse not more than 4-5 minutes.