Types of Black Tea

Posted: 10/30/2023

Teas popularity has been growing recently, possibly due to its reputation as a calming, centering and relaxing beverage. According to the Washington Post almost 80% of US households report having tea in their kitchen, and almost half the nation drinks tea on a daily basis. Black tea is the best selling tea in the United States and the world. With so many types and subtypes of delicious black tea to choose from, it can be challenging to select which new black teas to add to your cupboard. The Republic of Tea is here to help demystify all the categorizations of black tea and help you find one uniquely suited to your taste.

Black tea is a must-have in your tea collection. Many people refer to black tea as “regular” tea because it is the most widespread and popular tea in the world. Despite being known as “regular” or “ordinary,” black tea is anything but boring. Black tea leaves have the most strongly concentrated flavor out of all the teas produced from the Camellia sinensis plant. White, green and black teas are all harvested from this same plant, however the withering and oxidation processes that produce black tea lead to a sweet and rich concentrated flavor. Many describe the flavor of black tea as malty, earthy and smoky. Black tea has a deep amber or copper color when steeped. The tea leaves themselves are a very dark brown or black color.

The flavor, aroma and color of black tea varieties can change based on the region and climate where they are grown, how they were processed and whether any fruits, spices or herbs have been added to the tea leaves. Below you will find a helpful outline comparing and contrasting the most common types of black teas.

Classic Black Teas

Classic black teas let the delicious flavor of the tea plant shine. They do not contain additional flavors, spices or herbs. The only thing that separates these tea varieties is the location in which they are grown and their unique processing steps. You might be surprised how much those seemingly small tweaks can make a difference in the tasting notes of premium black teas. Often, these teas are named after the region where they are grown, or regions where they are particularly enjoyed.

Darjeeling Black Tea

Darjeeling tea is also known as the champagne of teas due to its highly sought after flavor. All darjeeling tea is grown in the Darjeeling district of West Bengal, India. These teas are described as having lighter, fruity and floral taste rather than the deep malty flavors of some other black tea varieties. Darjeeling tea leaves from the first flush – or first harvest – of the year are especially prized for their unique flavor profile that combines the most delicious elements of both green tea and black tea. Try the Republic Darjeeling Black Full Leaf Tea if you want to add the champagne of teas to your tea repertoire. 

Assam Black Tea

Assam black tea is one of the boldest and maltiest options of the black tea varieties. The rainy humid environment and rich soil of the Assam region in Northeastern India create an environment that packs the Assam tea full of flavor and nutrients. It is common to serve milk or sugar with Assam black teas, as some tea enthusiasts find they round off the bolder flavors of this tea quite nicely. Other tea connoisseurs prefer the intensity of their Assam tea served plain. You will have to experiment to see which preparation suits you best. You can try the Organic Assam Breakfast Black Tea Bags to truly experience the flavors of this region, as they are verified Assam-grown by the Tea Board of India.

Oolong Black Tea 

Oolong teas originated in China approximately 600 years ago. There, this variety is sometimes known as Black Dragon tea. The Republic of Tea took inspiration from this regional name when naming one of our favorite Oolong tea bags – Dragon Oolong Tea Bags. Many Oolong tea leaves are carefully rolled into a ball in their harvesting and drying process. The leaves react to hot water by expanding and stretching out, making this a very beautiful tea to watch steep. Oolong teas are not oxidized as long as some other black tea varieties. The resulting flavor is a bit lighter and smoother than other black tea options. Oolong tea is also known for its sweet and fruity tasting notes.

Breakfast Teas

Breakfast teas refer to bold, intense black teas intended to have a rejuvenating and energizing effect. They often include a blend of black teas from a variety of regions. Breakfast teas are an important tradition in Ireland, Scotland and England. You will often see breakfast teas created specifically for these regions. Try Lucky Irish Breakfast or British Breakfast Black tea bags to travel the world with your next breakfast. 

Pu-erh Black Teas 

Pu-erh is a unique tea variety that is rapidly growing in popularity. Pu-erh tea is fermented, which gives it a very unique flavor and aroma. Many describe this tea as having an earthy or woody taste with a sweet finish. Fermentation gives many foods extra health benefits and
encourages nutrient absorption in the digestive system. This fermented variety of black tea is being actively researched for its potential health benefits. Fermented Pu-erh is commonly made with black tea leaves, but green and white tea varieties can also be preserved this way, so be sure to double check the label! The Republic of Tea offers two delectable and unique black Pu-erh teas: Organic Cacao Cinnamon Pu-erh SuperDigest Tea® and Coconut Pu-erh Full-Leaf Tea

Flavored Black Teas

Flavored black teas combine the delicacy of black tea leaves with a variety of herbs, spices, fruits and flowers to produce an exciting and fresh blend of flavors. If you are not sure which flavored black teas you might enjoy, consider your favorite dessert flavors and ingredients as a jumping off point. Love cinnamon rolls and pumpkin pie? Chai teas and pumpkin spice teas might be right up your alley. Are you a fruit tart or jam doughnut enthusiast? You might enjoy a black tea that has a citrus or berry component. Do not worry chocolate lovers, there are even black teas blended with cacao so you can indulge as well. As you expand your tea collection and try exciting new blends you will learn more about which flavored black teas you and your family love.


Chai is perhaps the world’s most famous flavored black tea, and for good reason. The spices in chai bring out the warmth and depth of black tea beautifully. Chai tea is a spiced tea blend that originates from India and is made with black tea and a mixture of warming spices like cinnamon, cardamom, cloves, ginger and black peppercorns. The spices used in chai can vary depending on the region. You may also find vanilla, nutmeg, star anise, fennel, bay leaf, allspice, cacao, saffron, coriander and cumin in your cup of chai tea depending on the region and blend. Spiced chai tea is typically steeped into a very strong tea, then sweetened and served with milk. To learn more about the amazing history and culture of chai tea, read this blog article. Bold Black Chai is a great starting point to experience the warming and cozy flavors of chai tea.

Earl Grey

Earl Grey is another flavored black tea that has gained worldwide renown. This tea is perfect for those looking for a citrusy and sophisticated new tea for their collection. The origin of Earl Grey tea is uncertain, but one story suggests that a Chinese mandarin tea master blended the first Earl Grey tea as a gift for Charles Grey. Charles Grey was a British Earl who served as prime minister. Earl Grey is a black tea flavored with bergamot oil. Bergamot is a fragrant Italian citrus fruit. Next time you want an aromatic black tea with a happy citrus zing, try Earl Greyer Black Tea, which is also available in a decaf variety.

Other Flavor Varieties

The strong malty flavor of black tea pairs well with a variety of accompaniments. You will find all sorts of black tea blends in the world. The blendmasters at The Republic of Tea have found many creative and absolutely scrumptious ways to enhance the flavors of black tea. Some Minister and Citizen favorites include Ginger Peach Black Tea, Caramel Vanilla Cuppa Cake® Tea, and Blackberry Sage Black Tea.

Whether you are searching for an invigorating and malty black tea or a smooth and fruity blend, one of these delectable black tea varieties will be the perfect addition to your tea reserves. There is truly a perfect type of black tea out there for every tea lover. Which of these black teas will be in your next cup?

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