Manufacturing Different Black Teas

Black tea generally contains 50-90 mg. of caffeine per cup and contains fluoride for good oral care and bone health. 

All teas are made from the same plant, Camellia sinensis, black tea is the most oxidized off all varieties and generally stronger in flavor than less oxidized teas. After the harvest, the leaves are first withered by blowing air on them. Black teas are produced in two ways, CTC (crush, tear, curl) or orthodox. Fully oxidized leaves produce black tea. 

CTC tea is produced by the mincing of withered tea leaves. A rotovane is used to precut the withered tea prior to feeding them into the CTC machines. The leaves go through several contra-rotation rotors that cut and tear the leaves to fine particles.  The CTC method produces leaves of fannings or dust grades found and used in tea bag. This method also produces higher broken leaf grades such as BOP (broken orange pekoe), CTC (crush, tear, curl) and GFBOP (golden, flowery, broken, orange, pekoe).

                    CTC                                                                        Fannings


Orthodox tea is produced when the withered leaves are heavily rolled by hand or mechanically through the use of a cylindrical rolling table or a rotovane. The rolling table moves in an eccentric manner to a large hopper of tea leaves, then the leaves are pressed down onto the table-top. This process produces a variety of whole and broken leaves, which are then sorted, oxidized, and dried. 

                                                        Orthodox Whole Leaf


The level of oxidation determines the color of the leaves and has an important effect on the taste but not necessarily an indication of the quality of the tea. Tea producers match the level of oxidation to produce a desired characteristic in the tea. 

There are many types of black tea and most black teas are blends from different origins. Classic single-origin black teas include Assam black, Darjeeling black, Nilgiri black, Ceylon black, Keemun black, Yunnan black and Kenya black tea. 

The season in which the teas are harvested impact their flavor too. A good example of this is the range in flavor of different Darjeeling flushes. A spring harvested Darjeeling black will have a lighter, green flavor, whereas a tea harvested slightly later in the year will be sweet and fruity, with notes of muscat grape, peach and apricot. 

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