Black tea is made from the same tea leaves as green and oolong tea. The difference lies in the fermentation process: black tea is left to ferment completely, hence the darker leaf colour.

Popular varieties of black tea include Darjeeling teawidely acknowledged to be the finest black tea in the world, Assam tea  and Ceylon tea, including theclassic English Breakfast.

Darjeeling tea

We stock both first flush and second flush Darjeeling tea.

First flush is produced early in the spring and second flush is harvested approximately 6 to 8 weeks later.

First flush leaves are more delicate in colour, flavour and taste while second flush leaves are richer, more intense and full-bodied. Both varieties are delicious and well worth trying. They offer their own characteristics and you only know your own preference by trying them.

Perhaps you would like our Second Flush Darjeeling Summer Gold Organic and the Second Flush Darjeeling Margaret's Hope  first thing in the morning as a pick-me-up while you may enjoy the First Flush Spring Darjeeling Organic and First Flush Darjeeling Badamtam for a more leisurely afternoon tea.

Assam Tea

Assam tea comes from the fertile, low-lying, north-Eest region of India. These growing conditions help to create the dark and distinctly strongly flavoured tea.  Assam tea works well with milk and sugar (depending on personal preferences) so makes a popular choice in Britain where milk is commonly added to teas.

We would recommend trying a few different Assam teas before you decide on your favourite as the flavours vary from our Ronnefeldt Assam Nahorhabi which has a malty caramel tone, our Ronnefeldt Assam Bari (previously Mokalbarie) having a much more malty, spicy and extravagantly lively taste.

Our more traditional Assam teas include Ronnefeldt Natural Assam Organic and Ronnefeldt Assam Golden Melange with their full-bodied malty flavours.

Ceylon Tea

Ceylon tea is cultivated and produced in Sri Lanka. From Uva, in the east of the country, Dimbula in the west, and Nuwara Eliya in between, come some of the finest Ceylon teas.

Teas whose leaves are carefully picked by hand, before being withered, rolled and fermented to prepare them for the cup.We stock a lovely range of Ceylon tea from all of these regions. Why not try our Ronnefeldt Nuwara Eilya for an aromatic tart tasting tea, grown at very high altitudes. The name itself means “soaring above the clouds”.  

Our Ronnefeldt Ceylon Inverness is another lovely choice with its subtle aroma and trademark sparkle and liveliness. This tea also makes a wonderful gift because it is so visually appealing with its bright silvery tips.

Chinese Black Tea

Our Chinese teas are to be celebrated! We have a wide range on offer and the loose tea leaves are a joy to look at. As green and white tea is now more popular in China itself, the very best black tea leaves are able to be exported for the world to enjoy! Popular Chinese black teas include the smoky Lapsang Souchong, the healthy Pu Erh, the sweet China Yunnan and the rare Ronnefeldt Golden Dragon.

Lapsang Souchong is a very popular choice and is believed to be the very first black tea that was invented by Emperor Shennong thousands of years ago. It is a very dark tea with a smoky taste. The Pu Erh also offers the smoky earthy flavor. Our Yunnan Imperial is a golden loose leaf tea with a slightly sweeter, spicy flavor with a subtle smoky aroma. 

Black tea was first produced in the Fujian province during the Ming Dynasty.

There are different versions of this story but one legend goes that an army entering the Fujian Province were exhausted and so stopped for a rest. They just so happened to stop near a tea factory where the leaves were drying out in the sun. The army wanted to try these leaves and needed to speed up the drying process so they could carry on with their journey after their rest. To do so, they decided to smoke the leaves and inadvertently invented the Lapsong Souchong variation of black tea.

Another story goes that the famous Emperor Shennong, Father of Agriculture had an awareness of health and hygiene far ahead of his time. He believed that all water should be boiled before it was consumed so on a long journey one day he made his servants sit down and boil some water. Some leaves from a nearby Camellia tree accidently blew into the water, the water turned brown and black tea infused! He tried the liquid and enjoyed it. Black tea remains the most popular tea variety worldwide with a rich cultural importance in many countries.

Originally, black tea was dried and stored in bricks enabling it to retain its distinct colour and flavour for many years and was therefore historically used as an important bargaining tool in trade agreements. This was well before people knew much about food preservation. The drying method would also ferment the tea in a way that would increase the amount of caffeine per cup compared to other teas. The caffeine was important because this meant black tea could be used to boost energy for meditating monks, those on long voyages or for medicinal purposes.

As with all teas, remember to always use the freshest filtered or preferably spring water. Avoid hard tap water and certainly don’t use water that has been boiled and left in the kettle as it will have lost too much oxygen.

To ensure you get the best out of black teas always use 100 C boiling water. Pre-warm the pot with a little hot water and then pour the freshly boiled water directly over the tea leaves. If you are using a removable filter or strainer, remove the tea leaves from the teapot after 3 – 5 minutes. This will stop the brewing process so the tea cannot over-brew.

If you are brewing your tea directly in the pot then pour through a strainer after 3 – 5 minutes. Brewing time will depend on your preference so do experiment to discover the taste you like best.

Darjeeling Brewing Methods

Darjeeling tea is best brewed in a pot, giving the leaves plenty of room to develop all flavours and aromas.

The pot can be a simple china pot. The steeping time can vary depending on the strength you prefer but the general rule is 2-3 minutes. Any longer and the tea may become bitter as too many tannins are released. Even if you prefer your tea with milk, lemon and/or sugar, I suggest you savour the pure Darjeeling taste in the first few sips before adding anything to it. This way you really indulge your senses in the aromas and flavours which range from muscatel to flowery in our vast Darjeeling range.

Remember when choosing your Darjeeling that we offer first flush and second flush varieties. The first flush is harvested in early Spring with the young leaves while the second flush is harvested with more mature leaves later in the spring/summer. The main difference is that the first flush offers a lighter, fresher and more vibrant flavour. Why not try DARJEELING TUMSONG FIRST FLUSH ORGANIC or Namring.

The second flush is far darker, fuller-bodied and stronger; well suited to a cold winter morning brew. The second flush offers the unique muscatel flavour because of the effect of the insects that eat from the plants throughout the warmer months. Some of our second flush teas include DARJEELING SEEYOK SECOND FLUSH ORGANIC, Ronnefeldt Darjeeling Margarets Hope Second Flush, Ronnefeldt Darjeeling Margarets Hope Second Flush.

You may find you prefer the second flush first thing in the morning or during the colder months and the fresher first flush any time of day in the Spring and Summer.

Go to https://www.cupoftea.co.uk/tea/black-teas/darjeeling-tea/c21 for our full range.

Assam Brewing Methods

Assam tea is world famous for its unique rich malty flavours making it a very popular satisfying black tea.

The strong flavours are so easily achieved in the Assam region because of varying climates from hot and humid in the spring/summer to much cooler and rainy in the winter and also because it lies below sea level.

When brewing Assam tea, boil fresh water and pre-heat your cups before serving. Dispose of the pre-heating water. Add one heaped teaspoon of loose leaf tea for each cup and allow it to steep in the teapot for 3 minutes. Pour the tea through a strainer and enjoy.

Assam Mokalbarie, Assam Boisahabi and Natural Assam are all fine examples of tea from this region. And our Irish Breakfast serves as proof that Assam tea is equally delicious as part of a blend.

Ceylon Brewing Methods

A brief history: It wasn't until the late 1800s that tea was harvested in Sri Lanka (then called Ceylon). Until then coffee had always been the crop of choice in Ceylon but there was a very bad attack of the coffee rust fungus Hemileiavastatrix forcing farmers to diversify. Henry Randolph Trafford came over to Ceylon in the 1880s and bought many coffee plantations and quickly turned them into tea plantations because of his superior knowledge and interest in the harvesting of tea. Ceylon tea was born! Ceylon tea proved to be a great success very quickly with its immediate popularity, rapid growth in production and export to many countries worldwide. Ceylon tea really hit the world stage at the World Fair in Chicago in 1893 and the Paris exposition in 1900.

The varying flavours of Ceylon tea come from the different altitudes it is harvested at. The leaves are picked by hand and then withered, rolled and fermented ready for brewing.

Ceylon teas have a refreshing; some say sparkling character but they are fairly high in tannin.

Brewing Ceylon tea is a fairly straight forward process. You can use boiling water and this tea can cope well with water straight form the tap making it a convenient everyday brew. Simply add one level teaspoon per cup to your china teapot and brew for three to four minutes. As with all other teas, we recommend that you try the pure black tea to fully appreciate its sweet, fresh, aromatic flavours but you can also add honey, milk, lemon or sugar depending on your personal preference.

Popular varieties include Ceylon Inverness, Ceylon Orange Pekoe and the classic English Breakfast Tea

Chinese Tea Brewing Methods

Our Chinese black teas are handpicked from tea plantations in southern China and offer a mild earthy flavour. To preserve the tea the traditional Chinese method is to dry, ferment and fire the leaves. This leads to a more oxidised leaf influencing the resulting flavour and aroma.

When brewing Chinese black tea, it’s preferable to use spring water just below boiling (95 degrees). You can use a teapot, infuser or a gaiwan. Rinse the loose tea leaves first and then add them to the gaiwan pouring the hot water over the leaves leaving them to steep for three to four minutes, simply pour through a sieve and enjoy.

Popular Chinese black teas include the smoky Lapsang Souchong, the healthy Pu Erh, the sweet China Yunnan and the rare Golden Dragon.

You can cold brew all teas

An alternative ancient method of brewing tea is to cold brew it. This is rarely done as it is more difficult to release the delicate flavours and takes much longer but the effort can offer wonderful rewards when done successfully and the method is incredibly simple. Cold brewing takes many hours so it is worth preparing the brew just before you go to bed. Simply pour fresh room temperature water over the leaves and stir them well, put the brew into the fridge overnight and when you get up in the morning strain the leaves and enjoy your delicious refreshing flavoursome cold brew! The flavours you achieve may be very different to a hot tea but equally satisfying. Give it a go and let us know how you get on!