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Did You Know All of this About the Most Popular Tea in the World?

Wait, what's the most popular tea in the world?

By far, it's black tea! Yes, #blacktea is the most commonly consumed tea in the world, accounting for approximately 68% of all tea consumption. In the United States, well over 80% of all the tea consumed is black tea.

Some of the most popular blended and flavored teas are created by using black tea leaves as the tea base. These include Earl Grey, English or Irish Breakfast, Chai, Tropical, and Orange Pekoe to name just a few.

whole leaf black teas and brewed tea in cups
In the United States, well over 80% of all the tea consumed is black tea.

Some of the most popular blended and flavored teas are created by using black tea leaves as the tea base. In love with an Earl Grey? That bergamot orange flavor is added to a black tea before it hits your favorite mug. That Chai Tea Latte you love so much begins with black tea. Same with your English or Irish Breakfast teas, Orange Pekoe, and any other flavored or scented black teas.

So, where ya from?

Traditionally, black tea was produced in China, India, and Sri Lanka (Ceylon); however, due to world demand, several countries now produce black teas. Newer producers of black teas include Argentina (60% of the black tea imported to the US), Kenya, Rwanda, Malawi, Indonesia, Vietnam, and many, many more.

The argument could be made that most teas are classified by the country from where they originate. This is especially common in the category of black teas. This is because every country produces radically different styles of black tea and there are so many countries to choose from today. Each country's terroir plays a key role in the cup character and styling of the leaf. Terroir refers to the climate, soil, altitude, and latitude in which the tea is grown. You can read more about terrior in our recent blog post here.

Other factors that influence terroir, to a lesser degree, include cultivation method, plant material (varietal or cultivar), the growing season, type of plucking, and historical practices. To further differentiate the teas within each country producers may use one or more descriptors in the name. This can include:

  • Regional Name: Often referring to the state or province within the country the tea was produced (Keemun, Yunnan, Nilgiri, Assam, etc.).

  • Estate Name: The name of the tea producer who processed the leaf (Bogawantalawa, Glenburn, Dilmah, etc.)

  • Season or Flush: A flush refers to the new growth of two leaves and a bud on the tea plant. The flush is what is plucked off the tea bush to produce the tea. Some countries only have a few flushes a year, while others have flushes every couple of months. (First Flush, Second Flush, Autumnal, Monsoon, Spring, Fall, etc.)

  • Altitude: This refers to the altitude in which the tea leaves are cultivated. (Low Grown, Mid Grown, High Grown, etc.)

  • Tea Grade: The British created a way of grading the tea following the orange pekoe or OP grading system. Today most countries use this grading system for their black teas. (OP, BOP, BOPF, F, FOP, etc.)

OP Grading System
  • Orange Pekoe has nothing to do with citrus flavors but is a term used to define the grade of the largest tea leaf. Grading of tea has nothing to do with quality, but that of the size and look of the leaf. The name is derived most likely from The Dutch Royal House of Orange-Nassau. The Dutch East India Company performed a central role in bringing tea to Europe and may have marketed the tea as “orange” to suggest a royal warrant.

  • Derived from the transliterated mispronunciation of the Amoy (Xiamen) dialect word for a Chinese tea known as “white down/hair” (peh-ho). This is how “pekoe” is listed by Rev. Robert in his Chinese dictionary, in 1819, as one of the seven sorts of black tea “commonly known by Europeans”. Pekoe refers to the down-like white “hairs” on the leaf and to the youngest leaf buds.

Are all black teas processed the same way?

Nope! At its most simple level, there are two main styles of black tea. Some countries produce both, while others produce only one or the other. For specialty tea, the only type of production is referred to as Orthodox Processed. These are teas that are hand-processed or use machines that mimic hand-processing and great care is taken to keep the leaf in its whole leaf size.

For commodity tea, the main type of production is referred to as CTC, which stands for Crush-Tear-Curl. This production style uses machinery to literally crush, tear, and roll the tea into uniformly sized pieces.

Where was black tea production born?

Black tea production was first developed by the British in India and later in Sri Lanka, and was eventually used by other countries, with slight variations.

Black tea is first plucked off the bush, withered - usually in huge withering troughs, rolled by machines that gently bruise the leaf and give the leaf its shape, oxidized for many hours to turn the green leaf into shades of brown, fired to stop the oxidization process, and then graded into like size and shape. You can read more about the processing of tea in our blog post here.

What about the healthy stuff?

A lot of reports and articles mention the health benefits of green tea due to its antioxidant polyphenols, like #EGCG. What many people may not realize, is that black tea contains the same health benefits as green tea. There are simply more studies being conducted on green tea than black tea.

All teas contain antioxidant polyphenols.

In fact, all teas contain antioxidant polyphenols. In black tea, polyphenols are combined with oxygen (during the oxidation process) and polyphenol oxidase which produces oxidized polyphenols. In black teas, Theaflavins (TF) and Thearubigins (TR) are produced instead of EGCG. Therefore, if you're a fan of the taste of black tea and are only sipping that green tea because you've heard that it is healthier - just let that go! Your favorite black tea provides the same health benefits as your green teas, so sip your favorite.

Thirsty for more?

What do you like most about your favorite black tea? Is it a flavored black or unflavored? Chat us up on social media, we'd love to talk tea with you!

Need a hand with your business? The #teaexperts at Hula Consulting can help with your perfect organic and conventional black teas and flavorings for your tea line, as well as tea education courses for you and your team. Contact us to get started today!


Source on tea facts -

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