Also called by many as ‘red tea’, the Chinese black tea has been enjoyed by the Chinese tea drinkers and the world for centuries. Its popularity is even soaring these days and I guess the primary reason for that is many believe that the Chinese black teas harbor profound and promising health benefits.
Chinese Black Tea Basics
As the name implies, the Chinese black tea originates in China and has long been used by the Chinese as part of their daily meals.
The brewed black tea ranges from reddish brown to black in color. According to some resources, one of the most obvious characteristics of the Chinese black tea is that it mellows with age and grows richer and deeper in flavor. The vintage black teas, in particular, are deemed superlative, boasting flavors and aromas that conjure up the same adjectives used to distinguish fine wine or whiskey.
Storing Chinese black tea is simple. It is usually kept in a well-ventilated place and the tea requires no temperature regulation. Also, unlike the other teas, Chinese black teas come in compressed cakes with variety o shapes and sizes. It could be round, square, and even bamboo-like tubes.
Types of Chinese Black Tea
According to different processing methods, Chinese black tea can be divided into three different types:
1. Souchong Black Tea – This is a unique type of black tea that grows at the Wuyi Mountain City in Fujian province. According to some experts, the pipe-smoking fragrance of Souchong black tea is much different from any other black teas in the world. And, according to the different producing area, this variety can be classified into four types:
• Tongmuguan Souchong which is produced in Tongmuguan county
• Lapsang Souchong, produced in Chongjin, Jianyang, Guangzhou
• XingChun Souchong, produced in other areas which around Xingcun town of Chongjin county
• Smoking Souchong, which is not from Wuyi Mountain City
Of these mentioned subclasses, the Lapsang Souchong is considered the best, offering longan flavor. The Smoking Souchong, on the other hand, is made from low-grade congou back tea and is processed by the imitational method as other Souchong black teas. Also, the smoking fragrance of this type is exactly coming from the burning brushwood of pine plant.
2. Congou Black Tea – This Chinese black tea type evolved from the Souchong variety. The most famous congou Chinese black teas include the Qihong of Anhui (Keemun black), Dianhong of Yunnan, Suhong of Jiangsu, Chuanhong of Sichuan and Huhong of Hunan.
3. Broken Black Tea – Finally, this type is also called “graded black tea” for the reason that there is an international uniform grading standard for this type of Chinese black tea. Well, according to different shapes, the broken black tea we classified into four subtypes: the whole leaf black, with short strip shape; broken leaf black, with small grain shape; fannings black, with small slice shape; and dust black, with powdered shape.
It is interesting to know that the origin of Chinese black tea is Chong’An, Fujian. This place is actually the city of the Wuyi Mountain today. In souchong, black tea was firstly manufactured in the Wuyi Mountain in the last of the 18th century. Following that, the congou black tea came to life. Since then, the manufacturing technique of black tea was brought to Jiangxi province, then to Keemun.