Black Tea: From Strong Brews to Sweet Beverages

Served strong without sweeteners, drenched in cream, flavored with fruits, or blended with citrus oils, black tea is one of the most popular brews in the United States and abroad. When compared to other varieties, black tea undergoes a lengthier oxidization process, which produces stronger flavors and more caffeine than less oxidized selections. Black tea also retains its flavor for several years, unlike green tea, which typically loses its taste within a year. From worldwide classics to exotic blends, below you will find 10 variations of black tea to add to your tea-drinking repertoire.

bergomot1. Earl Grey
Sip on a cup of Earl Grey and taste the distinct flavor of bergamot oil, which comes from the peel of a citrus fruit with juice that tastes less sour than lemons, but more bitter than a grapefruit. Ways to enjoy Earl Grey varieties include Twinings ‘Lady Grey’ (with lemon and Seville orange), French Earl Grey (with added rose petals), and ‘London Fog’ – a combination of Earl Grey, steamed milk, and vanilla syrup.

2. Assam
With a full-bodied taste and vibrant color, the strong flavor of Assam generates a characteristic ‘malty’ black tea often categorized as a ‘breakfast tea.’ Originating in the lowlands of Assam, India, tea drinkers often take advantage of the intense brew by adding cream, milk or lemon – all of which unable to overpower the true taste of the tea.

3. Masala Chai
While the preparation of Masala chai differs in the United States, the traditional beverage of India blends a strong black tea (like Assam), milk, spices, and sweetener (such as sugar or honey) to produce a dessert tea out of this world. Whole milk enhances the richness of this beverage, while some people use condensed milk to increase overall sweetness. The spiciness of the tea relies on cardamom mixed with one or more of the following spices: cinnamon, peppercorn, cloves, ginger and star anise.

cup of black tea4. and 5.English Breakfast and Irish Breakfast
For a full-bodied black tea with a strong, rich taste, sample English Breakfast with milk and sugar for a peek into British tradition. A cup of Irish Breakfast tea delivers a full-bodied, malty brew comprised of several different black teas (usually including Assam teas). Typically served with milk, Irish Breakfast tea also goes well lemon and sugar.

6. Darjeeling
Delivering a floral and fruity experience, Darjeeling tea originates from West Bengal, India and is known as a favorite in the United Kingdom. Known as the ‘Champagne of Teas,’ the small-leaved Chinese variety of tea is selected to produce distinct astringent and spicy characteristics. Today, Darjeeling may include blends of green and oolong added to black tea.

imprablacktea7. Ceylon
A Sri Lankan delight, Ceylon black tea is typically strong with hints of citrus. The tea bags shown are from the Impra Flavour Collection, which offers easily detectable fruitiness, including black current, lemon, strawberry, blueberry, cherry, and even pineapple.

8. Turkish (or Çay)
Hailing from the Rize Province on the eastern Black Sea coast of Turkey, strong (dark) or weak (light) versions of this mahogany black tea competes with Turkish coffee as the most popular drink in the country. Too strong and full-flavored for large cups, the tea is served in small glasses with cubes of sugar.

9. Lapsang Souchong
The original source of Lapsang Souchong tea is highly expensive, as Mount Wuji located in the Fujian Province of China is a small region. This unique black tea is dried over pinewood fire, which creates a strong, smoky flavor known to produce extreme reactions. Interestingly, some chefs in China actually smoke foods over the smoldering black tea.

10. Tibetan Butter Tea
You probably never imagined tea made with butter and salt, but in Tibet, the warming properties of this brew is a fascinating custom. This special black tea comes in varying shaped bricks from Pemagul, Tibet. To make, crumbles of tea are boiled for many hours before being churned with butter, salt, and milk (or milk powder).