Black TeaFully Oxidized Leaf/Postfermented
Red tea is one of the main categories of true tea, according to the Chinese classification. It is distinguished by its fully oxidized leaf. Although we refer to this category as “black tea” in the West, it has been given this classification because of reddish-amber hue of the infused leaf. Teas of this category go through four general processes: withering, rolling, oxidation, and drying. Due to the extra processes, this enables the tea to develop a heartier and deep character, with a heavier core and background aromas. Examples of red tea include (black teas from) Darjeeling, Assam, Ceylon, and Keemun.
Black tea, according to the Chinese classification of true teas, is considered to be “postfermented”, and is one of the very few teas that classify as “fermented” rather than “oxidized”. Black tea undergoes five general processes: steam fixation; rolling (which includes an initial postfermentaion achieved by smothering the tea in a damp cloth in a humid environment); compression; storage period for maturation to take place; and a final drying to complete the maturation. Pu’er is the most common example of black tea and is famous for its ability to age well.