Tea 201 - Chinese Black Teas

Black tea, known in China as red tea, is the most common product produced by our favorite Camellia sinensis plant.   It’s the most consume type of tea in the world; however, it is the least popular style in China.  The quality range is also greater than any other tea grown.  It is the Chinese black tea that is known for its highest quality compared to the other mechanically harvested and grown in places like India, Sri Lanka and Kenya.

There is a lot of debate among tea scholars as to when black tea was actually invented.  But everyone definitely agrees that tea appeared in the Chinese market by the 16th century.  Obviously for that to happen, the origin of tea production had to have gone back farther.

There are those who argue that black tea was created during the beginning of the Ming Dynasty around 1391.    Tea drinking in general had become accepted in Chinese society but was traded in the form of tightly compressed tea cakes.  These teas were considered worth their weight in gold.  At its peak, the tea trade was very well known for its wealth and corruption.

At the beginning of the Ming dynasty, under the rule of Ming Hong Wu Lian decided to put a halt to the corruption by ordering the end of the production of the tea cakes.  With the production halted, the monasteries that produced tea were stuck with tea and nothing to do with it.   The Wu Yi Shan’s monasteries began attempting to try pan-friend loose leaf green tea.   They were never successful because they could not get the teas to stop oxidizing.  This is typical of black tea.   Thus green tea was created by the time the 16th century rolled around.

Fun history, no?  Are you a fan of black tea, dear readers?

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