Black Tea: Oxidized or Fermented?

Top 'o the mornin' to ya! Whether you enjoy a good cuppa Earl Grey in the afternoon or a rousing Irish romp in your morning bowl black tea is the most common tea consumed outside of Asia, and the second most popular tea in the world (green tea hold the hoity toity title). English and Irish breakfast teas are among the most recognized tea for the everyday drinker, but alas we here artsy types aren't among the "average" are we? Never fear black tea is here!

I found it interesting that in the original Chinese color based system of classifying tea based on the color of the brewed liquor what we call black tea today was known as red tea. The Chinese saved black tea for the distinctive dark Pu-erh which is the only tea that is fermented rather than oxidized. (black tea is often mislabeled as fermented when it is actually fully oxidized - the difference for the non-science geeks like me: Fermentation occurs with the absence of oxygen and, you guessed it, oxidation requires lots and lots of moist oxygen-rich air). The secret to black tea is in this oxidation - black tea is the only style of tea that is fully oxidized.

Black tea is one of the most diversely manufactured tea styles with excellent varieties coming from China, Sri Lanka, India and Africa among other fine regions. A world famous black tea of course is Earl Grey, perhaps because of the legend of Sir Earl Grey a British Prime Minister who saved the life of a Chinese noble who then entrusted the secret of this fine tea to Sir Grey. Alas, this is only legend and not the true origin of this fine tea - it sounds good though. The true origin of Earl Grey is from Sri Lanka, and it is a fine black tea flavored with oil of bergamot, a citrus fruit.

Wuyi Ensamble Oolong Tea

Try Earl Grey Bravo a fine black tea with beautiful coloring as well as the Earl Grey flavor we know and love.

"I fell in like with earl grey loose leaf tea when visiting England a few years ago. However, it wasn't until I tasted Earl Grey Bravo that I truly fell in love." - - - Victoria

For the truly experimental or perhaps tea adventurers, the above mentioned Pu-erh is a delightful treat for ye taste buds. Actually I haven't tried it yet but my sisters cousins friend's boyfriend loves it! Ok, I'm making that up. What exactly is Pu-erh? Well, I've heard it is an aquired taste and based on the many reviews I have read people either love it or hate it. As soon as I try it I'll let you know where I fall on the matter.

Pu-erh tea dates back over 4000 years in the Yunnan region of China. It is the only fermented tea, and this fermentation actually gives the tea some magic cholesterol fighting properties. Well not magic but it is an added bonus. Pu-erh is like fine wine in that it's flavor improves with age, some of the finest most expensive pu-erh's may be decades old!

Try Pu-erh Poe tea, an earthy distinct black tea with "slimming" properties.

"This is a good introduction to pu erh, a very thick and hearty tea. It is the tea equivalent to Guiness. Some will be put off by its strong aroma and malty flavor, but others will savor its individuality." - - -Erica

Darjeeling oolong tea