Process of Ceylon Black Tea
Where green tea is steamed but never oxidized, and white and oolong teas are partially oxidized, black tea undergoes full oxidation. After picking the leaves of the tea plant, they are withered, rolled, and fermented for a number of hours. Then, the black tea is finally dried and packed into different shapes and sizes.
This unique processing method actually accounts for the stronger and more flavorful taste of Ceylon black tea. The way Ceylon tea is packed is another reason why its flavor is longer-lasting. This results in excellent products for export and shipping.
There are several varieties of black tea. The main difference is in the places or regions where the tea plants are grown. Like wine regions in France, black tea that comes from one region is different from tea grown in other regions. Black tea types are often named after the name of their growing region in order to make it easier to identify them by association.
The Ceylon Black Tea, is grown on an island of the same name in Sri Lanka where extreme climate and rough physical nature of the countryside play an important role in its characteristic taste.
History of Ceylon Black Tea
Before Ceylon was ever a tea growing region, it was first a coffee region. Coffee planting in Sri Lanka started around the 1800s, 3 centuries after the Portuguese first landed in search of spices. In 1837, Sri Lanka recorded a historic 4,000 acres of coffee on the island of Ceylon alone. This prompted coffee trade and export in the then British colony. Unfortunately, 40 years later, coffee planting in Sri Lanka suffered a setback from which they were never able to recover.
It was in the beginning of 1865 when coffee planters of Ceylon noted a leaf fungus appearing that caused the leaf to die and drop off – the “Devastating Emily”. By 1867, planters began looking at tea and planted them at fields, rather than at trials. The reversal was dramatic, and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, wrote in his De Profundis:
“Those were the royal days of coffee planting in Ceylon, before a single season and a rotting fungus drove a whole community through years of despair to one of the greatest commercial victories which pluck and ingenuity ever won. Not often is it that men have heart when their one great industry is withered, to rear up in a few years another as rich to take its place, and the tea fields of Ceylon are as true a monument to courage as is the lion at Waterloo.”
The first Ceylon black tea produced in the 1860s, was rolled by hand or arm, on bungalow verandah floors or tables, then fired over charcoal fires. The resultant Ceylon black tea was a fruity, full-bodied beverage with a slightly smoky taste.
Today, Ceylon black tea leaves are processed using developing machines, but quite a few are still made the old-fashioned way.
Benefits of Ceylon Black Tea
Aside from being rich in antioxidants, Ceylon black tea is also linked to health benefits like improved heart health and blood sugar control, as well as weight loss.
It’s also easy to make at home and has a unique, one-of-a-kind taste that sets it apart from other teas!
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