What are the flavor characteristics of black tea varieties?
There are more than 3000 varieties of tea, each has its own distinct character and is named for the area in which it is grown. For example, Assam from Assam in India, Formosa Oolong from Taiwan, Ceylon from Sri Lanka, Darjeeling from Darjeeling, India, and so forth.
Ceylon (Sri Lanka): Ceylon teas have an aromatic amber liquor and a rich, full, astringent flavor. This tea is wonderful with a little cold milk and goes well with a sweet breakfast or afternoon pastry.
Keemun (China): Keemun has a subtle orchid aroma and a bright red liquor. The flavor is mild with a hint of sweetness, which makes it a good evening tea.
Lapsang Souchong (China): This tea is produced by withering the tea leaves over open fires of pine. Lapsang Souchong is an assertive dark tea with a smoky fragrance and flavor. It yields a red-brown liquor, and is a great accompaniment to salty and spicy dishes, and with cheese.
Yunnan (China): Yunnan is considered one of China's "noble" varieties and is unique in that it combines aroma with strength, giving it a subtle rich taste. Nicknamed "the mocha of tea", this tea produces a red-amber color in the cup and is full-bodied with an illusive floral scent. Yunnan is a great breakfast tea.
Assam (India): Assam teas are bold with a strong malty taste and dark liquor, making them excellent morning teas. Bursting with rich, round flavor, it is oftentimes difficult to distinguish one garden from another. Assam teas are delicious with a drop of milk.
Darjeeling (India): Darjeeling is the rarest and the most prestigious of black teas. Its excellent quality is the result of climate and elevation. While sometimes difficult to distinguish one garden from another, each harvest period is easily identifiable. Darjeeling teas have a distinctive taste depending on the season.
Darjeeling is a great afternoon tea.
- First Flush Darjeeling: Referred to as "springtime teas", Darjeeling First Flush is harvested from late February to mid-April and yields a light tea with a delicate aroma and flowery taste. This tea is a connoisseur's delight.
- Second Flush Darjeeling: Referred to as "summer tea", this tea is harvested in May and June before the monsoon, and produces a darker, more full-bodied cup.