Central to British tea culture, ‘black tea’ refers both to the incredibly popular infusion made by steeping black tea leaves in hot water, and the leaves themselves.
Black tea leaves
- Black tea leaves come from the leaves of Camellia sinensis, the tea bush.
- Once plucked, these leaves are allowed (or even encouraged, by rolling) to fully oxidise – the natural process which causes browning, just like a slice of apple exposed to the air.
- Most black teas are made from the assamica variety of Camellia sinensis, which has larger leaves and more caffeine than the sinensis variety.
Black tea infusion
- Amber to deep-brown in colour, black tea tends to be full-bodied, rich and complex.
- There are many types of black tea, however, with great variation between the infusions they produce.
- For example, Assam and Darjeeling black teas are both grown and made in northern India, but Assam teas are rich and malty while Darjeelings tend to have a delicate, honeyed taste.
- Although many people enjoy milk with their black tea, it isn’t always a necessary addition. Indeed, many high-quality black teas are most fully appreciated ‘black’.
The taste of your tea is affected by a number of factors you can control. Here are our top tips for getting the very best from your Dragonfly black tea.
- Filtered or spring water makes better-tasting tea.
- Start with an empty kettle to ensure the water is fresh.
- Ideally, add only as much water to the kettle as you need for your cup/pot. This saves energy and avoids the need to waste the spent water when you come to make your next cup!
- Black tea leaves can tolerate higher temperatures than other teas.
- However, some black teas call for boiling water, while others respond best to slightly cooler water. Do check your tea’s packaging for instructions.
How much tea?
- Dragonfly teabags contain just the right amount of tea leaves for a mug of tea (about 250ml capacity).
- For loose leaf tea, use 1-2 teaspoons, depending on taste preference and leaf size (you’ll usually need fewer teaspoons of smaller/more compact tea).
- At Dragonfly, we know that how you like your tea is intensely personal. Whether you weigh your tea, measure it by the spoon or judge it by eye, we recommend you experiment to find the tea-to-water ratio that you love best.
- Combine the water and teabag or tea leaves (some prefer to bring the tea to the water, and vice versa)
- For loose leaf teas, it’s ideal to use a strainer or sieve so you can remove the leaves at the end of the brewing time.
- We recommend steeping your black tea for 2-4 minutes to allow for the release of the complex flavours and beneficial compounds.
- Avoid brewing for longer than this to prevent bitterness.
- For tea that’s perfect for you, try it after one minute of brewing, then every 30 seconds until it’s as you like it. Remove the teabag or leaves and enjoy!