top 10 types of black tea

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don’t be surprised by the types of black tea - there are many! although they all come from the same camellia sinensis plant, each black tea variety has a distinct flavour. these unique flavours depend on where the tea is grown, how it’s picked, fermented and how it’s made. all these factors influence the flavours, making them vary greatly - from floral and malty to spicy and nutty.

to make an informed choice when purchasing black tea, it's helpful to understand the different varieties. with that in mind, we’ve compiled a list of various kinds of black tea. the collection features the top 10 types of black tea to give you a glimpse of the diverse flavours that you can explore to enhance your tea time experience.

what is black tea

black tea is a type of tea that is fully oxidised, giving it a rich, robust flavour and dark colour. unlike green or white tea, every black tea variety undergoes a process where the leaves are exposed to air, allowing them to ferment and develop their distinctive taste. this oxidation process does two things - it enhances the flavour and also increases the caffeine content.

black tea comes in two styles - orthodox and ctc. orthodox is a slower method where whole leaves are rolled and oxidised for complex flavour. ctc (crush, tear, curl) is faster, using crushed leaves for quicker oxidation and a stronger, simpler taste. ctc teas are also better suited for black tea bags, making them more common commercially.

in australia, black tea holds a special place among tea enthusiasts. it’s usually enjoyed with some milk and sweetener. but there are almost unlimited creative ways to enjoy this beverage.

popular black tea variety

the flavours and types of black tea are defined by many things. for example, the place where tea is grown matters a lot because the soil, weather and height above sea level all make a difference. but, if you keep those elements constant and change the way the leaves are plucked (also called flush) or the season they’re harvested, you’ll still notice a change.

another factor that makes a big difference in the flavour is the way tea is processed. for example, assam tea tastes strong and malty because it's fully oxidised, while the first flush (and even the second flush) of darjeeling tea has a lighter, floral taste due to partial oxidation.

considering these variables, it's understandable why there are so many types of black tea out there. from robust and malty to light and floral - there are several kinds of black tea, each offering an interesting variation.

at this point, we’d only be exploring the top 10 types of black tea that’ll open up a diverse range of flavours and experiences for your tea time.

  1. darjeeling black tea

darjeeling in india is home to many tea gardens that produce high-quality tea leaves. the types of black tea made from these leaves have an amazing aroma and a delicate taste that’s a feast for the senses. tea leaves are hand-picked, sun-dried and rolled with care to create a unique profile that is difficult to duplicate.

darjeeling tea has a smooth, sweet flavour that lingers on the palate. it is slightly sweet. the beverage is usually a stunning light colour and a mild fruity aroma.

however, it’s worth noting that with the first flush being the earlier harvest and the second flush being later in the season, tea leaves have a stronger flavour and a deeper colour as a result of the second flush's increased sun exposure. weather impacts the timing of these flushes, influencing the tea's taste, colour and aroma.

  1. assam black tea

assam tea is one of the renowned types of black tea that’s cultivated in the lowlands of assam in india. this tea is celebrated for its strong flavour and dark colour that results from full oxidation. and those two properties make it a key ingredient in traditional breakfast teas like english breakfast, irish breakfast and earl grey. it’s also used in boba teas because it pairs well with milk and sugar.

however, not all assam tea leaves are the same! they are harvested four times a year but the leaves from the second harvest are often considered the best. they’re particularly prized for their superior flavour and richness.

  1. ceylon black tea

next, on our list of top types of black tea, is ceylon tea. it comes from the highlands of sri lanka, formerly known as ceylon. it’s one of those gems that every tea lover should have in their collection. that’s because it has an incredible range of flavours and aromas, thanks to the island’s diverse elevations, climates and soil types.

when you sip on a cup of ceylon tea, the first thing that hits you is an outstanding combination of boldness and briskness. on subsequent sips, you’ll notice subtle notes of citrus and spice. it's this unique combination that sets ceylon tea apart from other kinds of black tea.

  1. keemun black tea

keemun black tea is also known as china keemun or qimen, since it comes from qimen county in anhui province, china. harvested in spring and summer, the leaves undergo withering, rolling, oxidising, firing and sorting to create a true masterpiece that has a slightly smoky flavour with toasty notes and an intense orange colour.

its medium body and mild astringency produce a wonderfully balanced brew that you’ll find hard to refuse. all of these qualities set it apart from other types of black tea.

keemun is often blended into english breakfast or russian caravan teas to balance and soften flavours.

  1. yunnan black tea

an important addition to our list of top types of black tea is yunnan black tea, also known as 'dianhong'. it’s a remarkable tea from the yunnan region in southern china. if you're a bit of a tea history buff, you'll know that yunnan is where it all began - the birthplace of tea.

yunnan black tea offers a smooth, deep flavour profile with a subtle astringency and a mild sweetness that lingers pleasantly. its beautiful colour, which ranges from amber to dark brown, is visually pleasing and its woodsy scent enhances the sensory experience.

but that’s not all, it’s a very versatile tea that can be enjoyed with or without milk. that’s why it's suitable for a variety of settings - from a relaxed morning tea to a sophisticated afternoon tea.

  1. nilgiri black tea

grown in india's blue mountains, nilgiri tea is sometimes overlooked in favour of other types of black tea from india - darjeeling and assam tea. but this has nothing to do with its quality. in fact, it’s of exceptional quality and distinct features.

the robust, fruity and floral notes of nilgiri tea include subtle notes of woody plums and sunset orchids, all of which are well-balanced within a gentle body. this is a smooth black tea that brews to a rich amber colour without having a significant astringency - an attribute that makes it perfect for iced tea.

  1. lapsang souchong

if florals and fruity are not exactly your types of black tea, try this smoky black tea with a bold personality! the unique character of this tea comes from its processing method rather than the environment where the tea is grown.

after harvesting, the tea leaves are dried over pine wood fires - a process that both dries and gives a distinctive smoky aroma and flavour to the leaves. the pine smoke also gives a woody undertone that complements the tea's natural flavours.

however, it doesn't just offer bold smokiness, lapsang souchong has a subtle sweetness and a smooth, full-bodied taste too. lastly, there's also an underlying earthy quality, adding depth to the overall flavour of the tea.

  1. earl grey

just as vegemite pairs perfectly with savoury food, bergamot blends beautifully with black tea to create earl grey - one of the world's most popular types of black tea. having said that, earl grey is not a distinct black tea variety but falls under flavoured kinds of black tea.

earl grey tea is all about the interplay between these two key elements - black tea and bergamot! it uses black tea as a base (at teapigs, the finest darjeeling black tea is used) to which bergamot oil is added. this oil is extracted from the rind of a citrus fruit, like lemon or orange.

this combination gives the tea its characteristic aroma and flavour - a refreshing citrus punch balanced by the black tea's richness.

  1. english breakfast

unlike single-estate teas, english breakfast is a skilful combination of several types of black teas. these are usually from assam, ceylon (sri lanka) and kenya region. however, their combination varies and so does the final flavour.

each region brings its unique character to the tea - for example, assam provides a strong, malty base with some astringency while ceylon adds some brightness and briskness. irrespective of the combination, it’s often enjoyed with milk and sugar.

compared to other breakfast teas, english breakfast tea has more darjeeling tea characteristics, making it milder than irish breakfast tea, which is heavier on assam tea.

  1. irish breakfast

the final one on our list of top 10 types of black tea is irish breakfast tea. it’s a stronger and bolder tea when compared to the english breakfast tea. it’s known for its rich, malty flavour and deep reddish colour from robust assam tea leaves.

the blend is similar to english breakfast but with a dominant assam tea component, giving it its signature taste. if you’re wondering how this strong tea is enjoyed - it’s typically served with milk or with milk and sugar.

despite its name, irish breakfast tea is consumed throughout the day. ireland is among the top tea-drinking countries, with the average person drinking about 1,208 cups per year, second only to turkey.

benefits of black tea

as tea enthusiasts, we don’t really need a list of black tea benefits, but it’s nice to know that our favourite beverage is packed with perks. let’s explore some of them.

  • the refreshing and gently energising effects of different types of black tea come from its caffeine content. it provides just the right amount of energy boost without disrupting your sleep. this gentle lift in energy enhances alertness without causing jitters, making it the perfect way to start your day. however, if you’re keen on reducing the caffeine content in your tea, the decaffeinated tea types are always there.
  • black tea also has a calming effect. research indicates that consuming black tea during stressful times can induce relaxation and reduce cortisol levels, the stress hormone. this effect is attributed to l-theanine, a compound in black tea known for its calming properties.
  • tea is rich in antioxidants, like chlorogenic acid, renowned for its ability to combat oxidative stress. this compound shields the body from harmful free radicals, promoting overall health and well-being.


the flavours and types of black tea are influenced by so many factors like where they're grown, how they're picked and even when they're harvested. this creative mix of elements results in different kinds of black teas.

now that you've explored some of the amazing types of black teas, it's time to give them a try and see which ones you prefer. just head to your favourite store or for even more convenience buy black tea online!

as you try them, make note of their flavours and aromas. also, pay attention to how each tea makes you feel and which aspects stand out the most.

faqs on types of black tea

q. what is a common black tea?

a. one of the common types of black tea is english breakfast tea. it's a traditional blend of black teas primarily sourced from assam, ceylon and kenya. it’s known for its full-bodied, strong and rich qualities. often consumed with milk and sugar, this tea is a popular choice around the world.

q. what is another name for black tea?

a. apart from being called 'black tea', other names for this tea include 'red tea' in china. that name refers to its deep red colour when brewed in water. additionally, in some places, it’s called 'fermented tea' - a term that refers to the extensive oxidation period of the tea leaves during production.

q. what are the health benefits of black tea?

a. drinking black tea isn't just enjoyable, it has some health benefits too! this brew is loaded with antioxidants (they help combat cell damage). one group of such antioxidants called flavonoids might benefit the heart by reducing the risk of heart disease while polyphenols can promote gut health. while scientists are still researching these, there’s no reason to wait for the result to enjoy this amazing beverage.

q. how is black tea different from green or white tea?

a. the most important difference between black and green tea is in their level of oxidation. usually, black tea is fully oxidised giving it a strong flavour and dark colour. in contrast, green tea is mostly unoxidised resulting in a fresh and grassy taste. its colour also doesn’t change much and remains light green or yellowish-green colour when brewed.


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