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Basic Guide for Traditional Black Teas

What I’ve done is construct a list or a guide for traditional black teas. Designed mostly for the novice, it can be used as a refresher for those who drink tea frequently. Every company has their own interpretation of English, French, Irish and Scottish Breakfast. Because of this, the taste will vary accordingly. Black teas are teas that are fully oxidized.

  • Assam tea – is an Indian tea that has an assertive, malty flavor, and is considered an exceptional breakfast tea. Holds flavor even with milk and sugar.
    Ceylon – comes from Ceylon currently known as Sri Lanka since 1972. Ceylon tea has distinct citric/lemony notes; however, the flavor can change depending on the soil. Brewed color is reddish amber.
    Chai – Indian spiced tea usually served with milk and sweetener. It usually features cinnamon, ginger, cardamom and black peppercorns. There are many variations of this tea based on the local village and every company has their own version of this blend.
    Darjeeling– known as the “Champagne of tea”. This tea comes from the Darjeeling area of West Bengal in India. It has a pungent, floral aroma and certain tannic spiciness. The second harvest usually is a more full-bodied tea. Most Darjeeling teas brew to an amber color.
    Earl Grey – Teas that have been flavored and scented with bergamot orange oil. Bergamot gives the tea a citrus like flavor. Quite fragrant and exotic and it usually brews to a reddish brown depending on the black tea. This is also available as a green, oolong, pu-erh or white tea.
    English Breakfast – Full-bodied and rich. Originally a blend of Chinese teas until the Opium war. Now a strong Ceylon, Assam and Kenya blend. US companies usually add China Keemun to their blends.
    French Breakfast – black tea usually flavored with vanilla, some companies will add lavender.
    Irish Breakfast – More robust than English breakfast. Usually, an Assam/Ceylon blend which gives it a malty flavor. When brewed the color is a deep red-brown.
    Keemun – a black tea from southwestern China. It steeps to reddish brown color, strong flavored has a sweet side with smoky notes.
    Lapsang souchong –Originally from the Fujian province in China. This tea is a smoked black tea (usually smoked over cedar or pine logs.) This tea has a strong smoky flavor and smell. Lapsang souchong is also used in meat rubs.
    Nilgiri – grown in Southern India, is a wonderful tea that is used for ice tea.
    Orange Pekoe – refers to the size of the leaf and not a flavor.
    Russian Caravan– is a blend of Chinese and Indian black teas. Usually, lapsang souchong is added which gives it an intense smoky flavor. There is also a fruity version of this tea.
    Scottish Breakfast – Typically the strongest of the three British breakfast teas. May include teas from China, Assam, Ceylon, Africa, and/or Indonesia.
    Sikkim – From northeastern India. This tea brews to a yellow amber color and has a delicate, slightly malty taste.
    Yunnan – Black teas from the Yunnan province of China. Also known as the birthplace of tea. A deep reddish brown when brewed with peppery flavors.