Tea Blog

What is Black Tea? How It’s Made, Famous Black Teas and Health Benefits

Abi Cowell
Posted on
January 12, 2023

What is black tea? How is black tea made? The health benefits of black tea are extensive. What are the best tasting kinds of black tea available?

What is black tea?

Black tea comes from the leaves of the camellia sinensis plant, just like other delicious tea varieties, such as white tea, oolong tea and green tea.

How is black tea processed?

Many countries process their tea leaves black. The three most prominent are: China, Sri Lanka (Ceylon) and India. In Asia it is called Red Tea because the liquor is red. We call it Black Tea because the dry leaves are black.

Black teas are the most processed of all the teas. The 2 ways of processing are: CRC (Crush, Tear, Curl) or Orthodox.

The CTC method produces leaves of fannings or dust grades that are commonly used in tea bags and are always processed by machines. This method is efficient and effective for producing a better quality from medium and lower quality leaves of consistently dark color.

Orthodox processing is done by machines or by hand.

Hand processing is used for high quality teas. In either process the leaves are withered and rolled. The leaves are then oxidized, sorted and dried. The leaves are then sorted into grades.

This processing converts the antioxidants to tannins. If you are sensitive to the tannins in red wines you might be sensitive to the tannins in black tea. If you are it will usually upset your tummy. If it does, eat something and it will usually take the discomfort away.

How did black tea become so popular in Britain and the United States?

Our love affair with tea started centuries ago. Tea first came to England in the 1600’s. Everyone went crazy over it. Back then a pound of tea cost about $100 and took almost a year to get to England from China.

When we settled in the US of course we drank tea. With the high cost of importing tea, England began to heavily tax it. We got a little ticked off about a silly thing like “taxation without representation” and in 1773 The Sons of Liberty heaved several large chests of tea into the Boston harbor in protest. Instantly….no more tea!… and we turned our attention to coffee.

England had to find a cheaper way to get tea so they started looking at all their territories to see who had the best growing conditions. India won the contest. They sent a Scottish explorer named Robert Fortune to China to bring back tea seeds and saplings to start the new venture. The first effort was not successful. He developed a coat with many small pockets and put the seedlings in small glass jars with soil. He smuggled out over 20,000 plants and tea was born in India!

What are the health benefits of drinking black tea?

There are many health benefits of drinking black tea.

Black teas are great for your cardiovascular system. They may lower blood pressure and cholesterol. They are high in manganese and may be beneficial for those with osteoporosis.

Black teas open bronchials so asthmatics may get relief from them as well.

They help balance blood sugar and reduce stress hormones in the blood.

A study conducted by Harvard University researchers found that participants who consumed one cup of black tea a day lowered their risk of heart attack by as much as 44 % compared to non-tea drinkers (The Atlanta Journal 7/9/99).

Here’s some bad news: If you have kidney stones you will not want to drink black teas because of the oxilates that are created during firing.

If you drink milk in your tea you get NO HEALTH BENEFITS! (All the Brits just fainted). If you get poisoned and call the Poison Control Center, they will tell you to drink milk….it keeps your body from absorbing the poisons….in tea it keeps your body from absorbing the good stuff!

Famous black teas

Some famous black teas that you may have heard of are listed below. If you haven’t tried these, you should!

Where to buy the best organic black teas online

The best black tea is organic, since it is free of pesticides, herbicides and fungicides that may be used while the tea is growing.

The Path of Tea sells 35 different loose leaf black teas online. We only carry organic black teas (not conventionally grown teas), along with organic loose leaf teas of all varieties. Try one of these delicious black teas today:


This content has been adapted from the book Your Path of Tea for Health of Body, Mind and Spirit by the late Thia McKann, Tea Master and Owner of The Path of Tea.

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