Ever asked yourself what does black tea taste like? Are you thinking about buying it right now or you already have it and you are still wary about the taste?
Well, to answer your question, the taste of black tea can range from a very earthy, beer-like flavor to dark chocolate, nutty, and spicy flavor. Some black teas taste very fruity and floral due to being blended with roses and lavender.
Depending on the processing, the type, and the region where it comes from, your choices are limitless.
Contrary to what you might think, it is not all herbal teas that smell and taste horrible. Pure, high-quality black tea is hardly bitter or foul-tasting. In fact, on top of all the health benefits it poses, it generally tastes quite heavenly.
The varieties and different aromas are unmatched, and whether you take it sweetened or unsweetened, black or with milk, you will be hooked from the very first sip. Trust us!
List of Contents
- 1 How to tell if your tea is pure black tea
- 2 What is blended black tea?
- 3 Sweetened or unsweetened black tea?
- 4 What does black tea with milk taste like?
- 5 Does the way you brew your black tea affect the taste?
- 6 The different black tea types will bring different flavors and notes
- 7 Examples of black tea types
How to tell if your tea is pure black tea
You must try and avoid the mistake of assuming that price determines quality and purity.
Usually, the standardized way of testing the purity of tea is the cupping method. It is a complicated way used by professionals to check the purity of tea, so we will simplify it for you below.
Tea cupping is the process of tasting teas of the same or similar kind and comparing them according to their taste, color, quality and smell. This will aid you in determining which one is the best for your particular tastes.
You can also cup one type of tea by itself to get a better feel of its characteristics and therefore decide whether it is something you will enjoy.
The steps of cupping are as follows;
The first step in the process is to look at how the dry black tea leaves look and smell.
- You examine the dry leaves to see if they have a good dark chocolate color, generally, this is what good quality black tea leaves must look like.
- You can also look at the shape of the leaf. If the leaves are long and firmly twisted, then it means you will have to steep that tea for a longer period and enjoy a second cup compared to flat looking leaves.
- Testing the resilience of the leaf by squeezing it will give you a good indication of the age and quality of the tea.
The second step is the exciting one; you get to taste the teas. So here is a brief guide on how to properly prepare the black tea using the cupping method.
- Purified oxygenated water is recommended for getting the best taste during cupping.
- Make sure that you check the time to avoid over-steeping which can lead to a bitter tasting tea.
- Observe the color of the leaf after infusing. If it is a deep gold-red color, then it means that the tea is probably of good quality.
- Pay attention to the taste and smell. If it tastes full and rich and if it has a distinct aroma, then it will be a good purchase.
If however, you want a few quick tips on how to assess the purity of your black tea in an instant whilst at the grocery shop or at a farmers market then take a look at our guidelines below:
1.How do the leaves appear?
- The leaves must look full and consistent without broken pieces
- The shape and color must be consistent throughout the entire batch
- The leaves must look and feel smooth
2. What does the tea smell like?
- The aroma should be strong and distinct, not faint
If you have a chance to taste the tea before you buy it then look out for;
3. How the tea tastes
- If it tastes too bitter and unpleasant or it has a very faint or no flavor at all, then it is probably a cheap imitation and not pure black tea at all.
What is blended black tea?
Because there are so many varieties of black teas, sometimes you will find that there is a mixture of different types of leaves to make up one unique blend of black tea. Additionally, some black teas come packed with extra ingredients that enhance the flavors.
These blended black teas could include spices like cinnamon and star anise, or citrus fruits; some even include flowers to bring out unique tastes. The three main varieties of blended black teas are:
- Afternoon Tea
- Russian Caravan
If you are somewhat of a black tea guru and you now know what you like, then you can make your blended black tea. If not most black teas sold in supermarkets are blended so you can try your luck there.
Although, some black teas sold in the supermarkets tend to be generic and of low quality and will not give you the full taste experience that you deserve. You might want to stay away from such teas if you’re going to enjoy the marvel that is black tea.
So why not visit your local fresh food market, find yourself some handpicked black tea and make a unique blended black tea that you can enjoy?
Sweetened or unsweetened black tea?
It all boils down to preference really, but some black tea varieties taste better sweetened because the sweetener compliments the natural flavor of the tea. An example of this is the Ceylon Sinharajah. This rich flavored tea has a caramelized-molasses texture and goes very well with a sweetener because the flavors are not clashing with each other.
You might not be so lucky with other blends. It is up to you to take a leap and go boldly and bravely into the world of black tea tasting until you find what you like and brew it to your liking.
What does black tea with milk taste like?
Taste is a very tricky thing to put into words because it is subjective, and it all depends on your preference and the type of black tea that you have.
Some black tea varieties and blends go very well with milk. For example, you will better enjoy the Nepalese Himalayan without milk because of its peculiar chocolate and citrus flavor, adding milk will weaken the taste.
So make sure that when you purchase your black tea, you do some research. Not a fan of research? Then take your time to read the label on the packet for the tasting notes and make a decision.
It is after all your cup of tea, so brew it to your liking.
Does the way you brew your black tea affect the taste?
The answer is YES!
There are techniques that you should use to bring out the best flavor in your black tea; these include:
The temperature of the water
Hot boiling water is not the way to go for some black tea types. For example, the small leaf varieties of the Lapsang Souchongdo not do well with steaming hot water. So make sure that if you have a small-leafed tea, you wait until the water has cooled down for let’s say 1-2 minutes.
On the other hand, some types of teas need a higher temperature to enhance the flavor. So make sure you are clear on the kind of black tea that you have.
The length of your brewing time
A simple thing to remember is that too short of a brewing period is bad and too long is bad also. Balance is critical here.
Some smaller leaves need to be brewed for a shorter time because you will enjoy it better freshly brewed. Other types of black teas will taste better when you stretch the brewing time for a little bit longer.
The different black tea types will bring different flavors and notes
As you might have seen by now, the different varieties of black tea will give you very different flavors depending on;
- how it is made
- what is added into it
- whether it is pure or blended
Also, note that the same batch of black tea that you brew can produce different aromas and tastes depending on whether it is the first or second brew and on how long you brew it. You can get two very distinct tastes and smell from the same bunch of leaves!
Yes, it all sounds complicated, but practice and patience will get you there. You do not want to be left behind on this black tea train. So to help you get started on your black tea journey here are some examples to try.
Examples of black tea types
Assam black tea
- This Indian tea is mostly dark chocolate with slight golden color variations.
- It has a robust malt-like rich taste that can be sour.
- It has an earthy, citrusy aroma.
- Darjeeling black tea
This tea comes from Darjeeling, in West Bengal, India.
- This tea has green and golden leaves with hints of brown.
- The first flush (made of leaves from the first harvest) has a fruity, flowery taste and the second flush (after the first harvest) has a deeper musky taste.
- It smells mossy and has a hint of citrus.
- Ceylon black tea
- Grown in Sri Lanka, this blend has a dark chocolate reddish hue to it.
- It tastes mostly like chocolate with a bit of spice and citrus.
- It has a cocoa and caramel aroma.
- Breakfast black tea
- This tea blends using the Assam, Ceylon, and Kenyan or Darjeeling teas.
- It has reddish chocolate hues with a golden hint.
- It tastes very earthy with few floral undertones.
- When brewed, it smells like bread with a bit of honey.
- Lapsang Souchong black tea
Lapsang Souchong comes from the Wuyi Mountain, Fujian, China. It is known for its distinct wood smoke aroma and taste. What makes it unique from all other types of black tea is that it is dried using smoke from pinewood fires.
- Some varieties have a tiny and dark leaf while others are long and dark.
- It has a smoky slightly bitter dark chocolate taste.
- And it smells nutty with a bit of a pine smoke aroma.
- Yunnan black tea (Dianhong)
This tea is grown in Yunnan Province, China.
- It has a very distinct golden/orange color with slight dark brown variations.
- It tastes slightly spicy with chocolate and sweet flowery notes.
- It smells very fruity and floral.
- Blended black teas
- Most of these teas have varying colors depending on what is in them.
- They will mostly have added citrus, spicy, smoky, minty floral, or fruity flavors.
- The smell also depends on what is added to the tea.
What is black tea?
Black tea is made from the leaves of the Camellia Sinensis plant, the same plant that makes white, green, and oolong tea.
How is black tea made?
It is made by heating, drying, and oxidizing the leaves until they turn dark.
Is black tea bitter?
Generally no, as long as it is breweing correctly. Prolonged brewing will bring out the more unpleasant tastes.
How do you drink black tea?
All you need to do is to let the leaves steep in hot water for 3-5 minutes (for a mild flavor) or 5-7 minutes for a more pungent taste and enjoy it bare, or with milk and sugar.
What are some of the benefits of drinking black tea?
- It has antioxidants
- It can lower blood sugar levels
- It can improve gut health
- It improves heart health
- It may lower the risk of cancer.
So what does black tea taste like? It tastes like a fusion of very natural, earthy, chocolate, and citrus drinks. It has a lot of different notes and flavors.
Rest assured you will continuously be in for a wonderful surprise. You should give black tea a try.