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What is Black Tea?

The Most Traveled Category of Tea.

Black Tea,” as it’s called in the West, is known as “Hong Cha” or “Red Tea” in Asia, due to its dark reddish infusion color and dark colored dried tea leaves covered with reddish-orange pekoe. At the outset of the tea trade, green teas could not “survive” the long voyage to Europe. Being oxidized, black tea made for a more chest-stable and seaworthy product. Carried in tea chests, black teas rapidly traveled around the globe, expanded in popularity and today it is no surprise that they are most widely consumed type of tea in the world.

Oxidation and Black Tea

Unlike green tea processing, which attempts to preserve the green color of fresh tea leaves, black tea processing encourages fresh tea leaves to oxidize and change color from green to coppery red. This change in leaf color during processing is referred to as oxidation. The basic steps of black tea processing are picking, withering, tumbling, rolling, oxidation and drying.

In order to encourage oxidation black teas are rolled to bruise the leaves during processing. After rolling, black teas are arranged in shallow piles and left to rest while oxidation occurs.  The pace at which oxidation occurs is controlled by the ambient temperature and humidity in the oxidation room. Both of these factors are an important in the flavor development of black tea. 

Origins of Black Tea

Altitude is an important indicator of the essential character of black teas. Low elevation farms tend to produce more malty and full-bodied black teas, whereas high elevation gardens often yield brisk black teas with floral or fruity aromatics.
Join our Himalaya travels in Darjeeling where Joshua and crew vist the Golden Valley and Chamong Estate to discover the magical origins of Darjeeling Black Tea.

Notable Black Tea

Today, black teas are grown in all major tea regions, especially in India, Sri Lanka, China, Southeast Asia and Africa. This range of landscapes and growing climates creates a diverse collection of regional flavor profiles to explore.

Golden Yunnan

Our finest grade of Dian Hong black tea, harvested from Mengku heirloom varietal tea trees in China’s southwestern Yunnan Province, the birthplace of tea. Masterfully oxidized into an auburn color flecked with golden buds, this black tea has an impressive strength, density and refined finish.

Earl Grey Supreme

A special reserve for Earl Grey lovers, we infuse our top grades of Yunnan Dianhong black tea with the essential oil pressed from real bergamot citrus fruits grown in Calabria, Italy to yield our Earl Grey Supreme blend. 

Wild Thai Black

Wild Thai Black is an exciting addition to our collection of single-origin black teas. Hailing from a remote mountainous region in northern Thailand, where the growing conditions are truly wild, this ancient forest tea presents an impressive strength and rich flavor.

Our Travel Journal

Rishi Tea and Botanical’s practice of direct trade is defined by personal relationships with tea and herb growers around the world.  Follow along as our team of buyers travels extensively each year to follow the peak harvests and selects the very best micro-lots just days after production.