Skip to content
Types of Black Tea

Types of Black Tea

Black tea is one of the most popular teas around the world. With its robust flavour and caffeine content, it has a long history as a favourite beverage amongst many different cultures. There are various types of black tea available, from traditional flavours like Assam and English Breakfast to more modern varieties like Darjeeling and Earl Grey. Here is a closer look at some of the most popular types of black tea and what makes each of them unique.

Where Does Black Tea Come From?

Black tea is a type of tea that has been oxidized, which causes it to become darker in colour. It is made from Camellia sinensis leaves, the same tea plant used to make green tea, white tea, and oolong tea. The difference between these teas lies in the processing method; black tea is fully oxidized and allowed to ferment before being dried and packaged.

The oxidation process results in the formation of unique compounds known as theaflavins and thearubigins. These compounds give black tea its distinct flavour profile, which can range from malty and sweet to robust and smoky depending on where it is grown and how it’s processed. Black teas also contains caffeine, though not as much as coffee or other caffeinated beverages.

Sometimes black tea is also called red tea in other countries like China. This is because of the reddish colour the water can turn when it is brewed.

Types of Black Tea

Black tea is a type of tea that is typically dark in colour and has a strong flavour. It is one of the most popular types of tea consumed around the world. There are many different varieties of black teas, each with its own unique flavour and characteristics. Here are some common types of pure black teas.

Assam Tea

Assam tea is a type of black tea that comes from the Assam region in India. It has a robust flavour, with sweet malty notes, and is one of the most popular types of black teas consumed around the world. The Assam region has been renowned for its tea-making traditions since the early 1800s and is well known for its unique soil and climate, which creates an ideal environment for growing higher quality tea plants.

The leaves used to make Assam black tea are generally larger than other types of tea leaves and they have a deep brownish-red colour after they have been oxidized. This type of tea typically contains more caffeine than other varieties, so it can be a great energizing drink to start your day with! When brewed properly, it produces a strong-bodied cup with notes of maltiness, sweetness, and body.


Darjeeling black tea is a type of tea grown in the Darjeeling district of India and has long been recognized for its unique flavour. It is often referred to as the "champagne of teas" due to its muscatel-like flavour that exudes notes of flowers, fruits, and spices. This special aroma and taste can be attributed to the terroir—the soil, climate, and elevation—of where it's grown.

Darjeeling tea is grown in high elevations with temperatures ranging from 60 to 80 degrees F (16-27 degrees C) with bright sunlight followed by cool nights and misty mornings. This climate creates an ideal environment for the development of fine quality tea leaves.

Darjeeling tea plants are plucked when they are two leaves and a bud in order to ensure the highest quality. During processing, the leaves are withered, rolled into balls, oxidized slightly to encourage enzymatic activity and then dried over heat to halt oxidation. The oxidation process produces robust flavours including woodsy, earthy notes that result in its distinct muscatel-like taste. In fact, some say that you can even taste hints of ripe apricots or sweet honey!

The caffeine content in Darjeeling black tea is much lower than other types of black tea such as Assam or English Breakfast Tea but still offers a nice pick me up during your day. The lighter body also makes it easier on your stomach than many other varieties so it's easy to drink throughout the day without feeling overly caffeinated or uncomfortable later on.


Ceylon black tea is a unique variety of black tea that originates from Sri Lanka. It has a more robust flavour than Darjeeling and is often used for blending with other teas to give them an added flavour boost. Ceylon teas have a full-bodied taste with notes of malt, chocolate, and even hints of spice. The leaves are slightly smaller than other types of black teas, but the flavour is still quite strong and distinct.

The unique climate in Sri Lanka contributes to the unique flavour of Ceylon black tea - the cooler temperatures and high rainfall create an ideal environment for growing these special leaves. In addition, this type of tea is grown at higher altitudes (up to 5500 feet) which further enhances the complexity of the flavour profile. As a result, it produces a cup with more complexity and richness than other types of black teas.

Ceylon black tea can be enjoyed alone or blended with other teas such as white or green teas for a more complex and flavourful cup. When brewed correctly, it produces a smooth cup with delicate nuances that make every sip enjoyable.


Keemun tea is a unique type of Chinese black tea that stands out from other varieties. The leaves are small and dark with a deep reddish-brown colour. This type of tea has become quite popular in recent years due to its sweet notes of cocoa, honey, and dried fruit. It also has a subtle smokiness that makes it perfect for enjoying as a hot or iced tea.

The flavour profile of Keemun tea is largely attributed to the unique terroir in which it is produced. Unlike many other types of Chinese teas, Keemun comes from the Anhui province where temperatures tend to be cooler and rainfall is high. The unique climate creates an ideal environment for the cultivation of these special leaves and results in their distinct flavour profile. During processing, the leaves are withered, rolled into balls, oxidized slightly to encourage enzymatic activity, and then dried over heat to halt oxidation – all factors that contribute to its robust flavour.

Another reason why Keemun tea is so highly regarded by connoisseurs is that it is made from pure select buds rather than larger leaves like some other varieties of black teas. This means that each cup will contain fewer abrasive elements while still delivering on the full-bodied taste that this type of tea is known for – a characteristic that makes it stand out among other specialty black teas.

Lapsang Souchong

Lapsang Souchong is a unique variety of black tea that is grown and produced in the Fujian province of China. It has a unique smoky flavour that makes it truly unique. The leaves are smoked over pinewood fires, giving it its distinct flavour and aroma. This smoky flavour is complemented by subtle notes of spice, chocolate, and even honey depending on the specific batch.

Unlike other Chinese black teas, Lapsang Souchong is not oxidized or rolled before drying to preserve its original shape and size - instead, it is withered directly over pinewood fires. This smoking process imparts a distinctive smoky aroma that makes this type of tea truly stand out from the rest.

The well-known smokiness of Lapsang Souchong also comes from the particular type of wood used for smoking - Chinese pine needles! Chinese pine needles impart a uniquely flavourful smoke that adds depth to the cup without being overly strong or intense.

Producing Lapsang Souchong requires precise timing - if the leaves are exposed to too much heat they will become bitter while if they are exposed to too little heat they won't be able to absorb enough smoke flavour. As such, only experienced tea masters can produce high quality batches of this unique black tea.

There are other types of black tea like Yunnan and Nilgiri, however, the ones above are the most popular. No matter which type you choose, black teas are sure to provide a flavourful cup every time! Enjoy experimenting with different types to find your favourite.

Popular Types of Flavoured Black Tea Blends

Popular black tea blends have been enjoyed for centuries and have been developed to bring out even more flavour profiles. Blending different types of black teas can result in a unique cup with an array of flavours.

English Breakfast

English Breakfast tea is a classic blend of black teas that have been enjoyed for centuries. It is a combination of malty Assam, Ceylon, and sometimes Darjeeling teas, resulting in a strong full-bodied morning beverage that is usually served with milk and sugar. What makes English Breakfast tea unique is the fact that it is made from different types of black tea leaves, each contributing its own unique flavour profile to the cup.

Irish breakfast tea and Scottish breakfast teas are similar breakfast blends to the English variety but brewed in their own country. Irish breakfast tea is sometimes also called "builders tea".

Earl Grey Tea

Earl Grey tea is a special blend of black tea made from the finest Chinese and Indian teas. It is characterized by its unique flavour that has a tart, citrusy taste with subtle notes of bergamot oil, which is derived from the peel of the Bergamot orange. The most common type of Earl Grey tea contains teas from India such as Assam, Darjeeling and Nilgiri however some blends may also contain Ceylon tea from Sri Lanka or Keemun from China.

Masala Chai Tea

Chai tea is an Indian spiced black tea that features ginger, cinnamon, cardamom, cloves, and other spices for a robust flavour profile. The spice mix can vary depending on the region or individual preference - some recipes call for nutmeg or pepper while others may use star anise or fennel seed instead. The result is a unique and flavourful cup of black tea that is perfect for chilly days or relaxing evenings. Black tea blends offer an exciting range of flavours, aromas and textures that are sure to please any palate.


This type of blended Chinese black tea has undergone post-fermentation process resulting in its earthy taste and complex flavour profile reminiscent of mushrooms or leather. Pu’erh teas can be aged like wines to bring out further complexity in the flavours over time - some aged pu’erhs are highly sought after by connoisseurs!

No matter what blend you choose, each cup will be memorable! Try out different combinations to find your favourite - from sweet floral notes to smokey aromas, there's something for everyone when it comes to blending various types of black teas!

What is Orange Pekoe?

Orange Pekoe is a type of black tea most commonly found in the United Kingdom and Canada. However, Orange Pekoe indicates a grade of black tea that is simply an indication of its leaves' size, rather than its flavour. It is made from particularly large and mature Camellia sinensis leaves. Typically it is associated with higher quality tea, as the larger leaf sizes result in a fuller-bodied creature cup.

It is blended from predominantly large-leafed teas produced in India and Sri Lanka, though sometimes it may contain Chinese black teas as well. Orange Pekoe has a delicate aroma and smooth, almost creamy body with sweet undertones that can be enjoyed both without milk or with only a small amount.

How to Enjoy Black Tea

Black tea can be enjoyed in a variety of ways, but no matter how you choose to drink it, the key is to find the right balance between bitterness and sweetness. To start, boiling water at 195-205°F (90-96°C) for 2-4 minutes is recommended for optimal flavour extraction from the leaves. After boiling, pour the hot water into a cup or teapot and add 1 teaspoon of loose tea leaves or 1 tea bag. Steep for 3-5 minutes or longer depending on your preference and taste. If desired, add honey, sugar, lemon juice, or milk for a sweeter taste.

Due to its bold flavour profile and bracing tannins, black tea pairs well with milk or cream. It's also quite versatile when it comes to food pairings; many people enjoy sipping on an Assam brew alongside scones or toast for breakfast or as an accompaniment to spicy Indian curries.

For those who are looking for something different than traditional black tea brewing methods, there are many options available. Cold brewing is one way to make black tea without using heat - simply combine cold water with loose leaves or tea bags in a pitcher and let steep overnight in the fridge. This method results in a subtly sweet flavour profile with lower caffeine levels than hot brewed teas.

Another interesting way to enjoy a cup of black tea is by adding spices such as cardamom, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, peppermint or lemongrass. This will create an herbal infusion that not only has great health benefits but also adds an extra layer of complexity and depth to the flavour of your cup of tea.

No matter which way you choose to drink it up – whether it's hot brewed in its purest form or as part of a milk tea concoction – black tea offers an array of delicious flavours that everyone can enjoy!

Shop our selection of loose leaf black tea today. Go ahead and give it a sip - you won't be disappointed.

Previous article How to Make Loose Leaf Tea
Next article Does Tea Expire? What You Need to Know About the Shelf Life of Tea