Black Tea Types

By Gayot Editors

Made from the leaves of Camellia sinensis, black tea is more oxidized than many other teas. It’s rich in antioxidants called polyphenols. In some countries like Great Britain, it is traditionally often had with sugar and cream (or milk). But studies show that creamer can inhibit health-promoting benefits, so you might want to think twice before adding milk. Below are popular types of black tea as well as lesser known varieties.

> Check GAYOT’s Top 10 Black Teas to Drink.

Alishan

Named after Assam, India, where it is produced, this tea is frequently used as part of western “breakfast tea” blends. It is known for its body, briskness, malty flavor and strong, bright color. Unlike its fellow Indian teas, Darjeeling and Nilgiri, it is grown at low altitudes.

Ceylon

Ceylon began to be cultivated in Sri Lanka (which was known as Ceylon before 1972) after a deadly fungus wiped out the coffee crops. It has a light color and a crisp, powerful aroma reminiscent of citrus. It is frequently used in Earl Grey blends.

Darjeeling

Known as “The Champagne of Teas,” this highly-prized tea from the Darjeeling region of West Bengal, India, is known for its lightly fruity, muscatel flavor and floral aroma. Though classified as a black tea, most Darjeeling is actually less oxidized than typical blacks, and in many ways has more in common with Oolongs. Just as Champagne is indigenous to Champagne, France, Darjeeling cannot be grown anywhere else in the world.

Earl Grey

An extremely popular tea blend named after the second Earl Grey, who as British Prime Minister in the 1830s reputedly received a tea flavored with bergamot oil as a gift. This oil, extracted from the rind of the bergamot orange, gives Earl Grey its distinctive citrus flavor and aroma. A dispute between English tea makers Twinings and Jacksons of Piccadilly over which company originated “Earl Grey’s Tea” (as it was then known) in the British market continues today.

English Breakfast

A robust, full-bodied blend designed to go well with milk and sugar, in the typical English style. Usually includes some combination of Assam, Ceylon, Keemun or Kenyan teas. Popular brands include Twinings, Tetley and PG Tips.

Irish Breakfast

A blend made mostly from Assam teas, Irish Breakfast has a full-bodied, brisk, malty brew. Popular brands include Barry’s, Bewley’s and Lyons.

Java

A medicinal tea from Indonesia used primarily as a diuretic and as a remedy for kidney stones and urinary tract infections.

Keemun

First produced in 1875, Keemun continues to be cultivated in China’s Anhui Province. It rapidly gained popularity in England, becoming one of the most prominent ingredients in typical English Breakfast blends. It has a fruity taste with hints of pine.

Kenyan

Tea was introduced to Kenya in the early part of the 20th century with seedlings imported from India. The region’s tropical climate and nutrient-rich volcanic soil give Kenyan tea a unique flavor and a bright, attractive color.

Irish Breakfast

A blend made mostly from Assam teas, Irish Breakfast has a full-bodied, brisk, malty brew. Popular brands include Barry’s, Bewley’s and Lyons.