Black Tea Facts

Black tea is one of the most popular tea varieties in the world, enjoyed for its bold flavour and robust aroma. Originating from the Camellia sinensis plant, black tea undergoes a unique oxidation process that gives it its distinct character. This process is what sets black tea apart from other tea types like green, oolong, and white tea.

black tea in black teapot

A Brief History of Black Tea

Black tea has a long and rich history, dating back to ancient China where it was first discovered. According to legend in in 2737BC Chinese emperor Shenong was sitting under a tree when a leaf fell into a pot of boiling water, releasing a beautiful aroma.  And from that leaf tea spread through China.

The tea was initially consumed for its medicinal properties and was used as a remedy for a variety of ailments. It quickly gained popularity and in 1610 AD it spread to other parts of the world, including Europe, where it became a staple drink. Today, black tea is widely consumed in many countries and is an integral part of many cultures and traditions. Discover a deeper knowledge of the history of Tea in China.

Tea leaves falling into a pot - The discovery of tea

Chinese emperor Shenong discovers tea.

What Makes Black Tea Different?

The oxidation process of black tea is what gives it its unique flavour and aroma. During this process, the tea leaves are exposed to oxygen, which causes chemical changes to occur. This results in the leaves darkening in colour and the formation of new compounds that contribute to the tea's flavour and aroma. Black tea is traditionally made from the Camellia sinensis var. sinensis plant, although some tea growers use the Camellia sinensis var. assamica plant to produce black tea.  Learn more about tea types and processing here.

 Health Benefits of Black Tea

One of the key benefits of black tea is its high level of antioxidants. Antioxidants are compounds that help to protect the body against damage from free radicals, which can cause cell damage and lead to diseases such as cancer. Black tea is rich in a type of antioxidant called polyphenols, which have been shown to have a number of health benefits, including reducing the risk of heart disease and stroke.

Black tea is also a good source of caffeine, which can help to improve mental alertness and reduce fatigue. However, it is important to note that the caffeine content of black tea can vary greatly depending on the type of tea and the brewing method used. On average, a cup of black tea contains approximately 40-50 mg of caffeine, which is about half the amount found in a cup of coffee.  Black tea has a higher caffeine content than green, white or oolong tea.

Learn more about the health benefits of tea here.

Black tea served in glass cups

How to Brew the Perfect Cup of Black Tea

One of the most popular ways to enjoy black tea is by brewing it as a hot beverage. The traditional way to prepare black tea is to bring water to a boil then pour the water over the tea leaves. The tea should be steeped for 3-5 minutes, after which it can be strained and served. Black tea can be enjoyed on its own or with milk, sugar, or honey.  You can check the brewing instructions of each individual tea to see how it is best served.  Learn how to brew the perfect cup of tea here.

Another popular way to enjoy black tea is as a cold beverage. Iced tea is a refreshing drink that is perfect for hot summer days, and it is easy to prepare. Simply brew a pot of hot tea, let it cool, then pour it over ice. Add a squeeze of lemon or a sprig of mint for a touch of flavour.  Some of our flavoured black teas such as Arctic Fire make a great iced tea!

Pouring a cup of black tea

Black tea is also commonly used as a base for many flavoured teas, such as Earl Grey, which is flavoured with bergamot oil. Other popular flavoured teas include chai, which is a spicy blend of black tea, milk, and spices, and masala chai, which is a similar blend that is popular in India.  At Tea by Birdy we also have flavoured teas such as Assam Vanilla, Arctic Fire, Creme Caramel and Ceylon Orange Blossom, just to name a few!  You can discover more about tea flavourings here.

In addition to its great taste and health benefits, black tea is also a versatile ingredient that can be used in cooking and baking. Black tea can be used to add flavour to savory dishes, such as marinades and sauces, or it can be used in sweet baked goods, such as cakes and cookies. It can also be used to make tea-infused syrups, which can be used as a sweetener in drinks or desserts.

How to Choose the Perfect Black Tea

Black tea is available in a variety of forms, including loose-leaf, tea bags, and pre-packaged blends. When choosing black tea, it is important to consider the quality of the tea leaves and the source of the tea. High-quality black tea should be made from whole leaves that are evenly sized and have a rich, dark colour. The tea should also have a strong aroma and a bold, full-bodied flavour.  Loose leaf tea will be better quality than the tea available in a teabag. 


There are many different types of black tea available, each with its own unique flavour profile. Some of the most popular types of black tea include Darjeeling, Assam, Ceylon, and Nilgiri.

Darjeeling, which is grown in the Darjeeling district of India, has a floral and fruity flavour.

Assam, which is grown in the Assam region of India, is known for its malty flavour and strong aroma.

Ceylon, which is grown in Sri Lanka has a smooth and well-balanced flavour.

Nilgiri, which is grown in the Nilgiri hills of India, is known for its mild and slightly sweet flavour.

Black tea leaves spilling from a pot

Black tea is a delicious and versatile beverage that offers a variety of health benefits. Whether enjoyed hot or cold, on its own or as a flavoured blend, black tea is sure to delight tea lovers of all ages.