BLACK TEA is fully oxidized tea.
Oxidation of the tea leaf was first discovered in 17th century in China.
Unlike in green teas for production of black teas mature leaves are used, except for the top quality whole leaf teas such as Dian Hong, Keemun, Black Mao Feng etc. that use tea shoots and topmost 4 young leaves.
After the leaves are plucked they are allowed to wither. Withering of Black Tea is a longer process than for other teas, to create deeper, more concentrated flavors.
Then tea leaves are rolled and crushed by hand or by machine. Tea makers roll the leaves gently to stimulate the polyphenols, amino acids and essential oils that determine the final characteristics of the tea. Most modern producers use mechanical rollers, but the finest Black Teas are still rolled by hand. This process brings enzymes – polyphenol oxidase and peroxidase - in contact with polyphenols and triggers the oxidation process. The leaves are allowed to turn dark brown and eventually, when chlorophyll breaks into pheophytin, to deep black.
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