on Sunday, February 5, 2012 1:19:00 AM
One of the biggest questions we get at the shop is "What is red
tea?", when customers see the three red teas that we offer. Or they
mistakenly believe that we are selling a South African herb called
Rooibos. In this article, I am going to help clear up the difference
between red tea, black tea, and rooibos.
So first of all, what is
the red tea that you find at our store or at our online shop? This red
tea is made of our fermented (oxidized) white tea leaves. The leaves of
our red teas (Golden Needle, Tangerine Blossom, and Bai Lin Kung Fu
Classic) are almost fully oxidized (85-95%) and have a richer, bolder
taste than our other teas.
The important thing to note here is
that what we refer to as red tea in our shop and what is called red tea
in China would be referred to as black tea in most other countries. The
distinction in color depends on whether you are talking about the color
of the leaves or the color of the brew. The color of the brew is
typically a beautiful amber, red color thus leading to the name “red
tea”. The color of the leaves though are typically dark black, thus
leading to the name “black tea”. Thus the terms can be used
interchangeably. Red tea is oxidized/fermented for about 6-10 hours
until the leaves turn an amber/black color and then they are dried to
stop the oxidation process.
In China though, the term black tea or dark tea
typically refers to a tea that we call Pu-erh in the United States. This
tea is fermented anywhere between 2 weeks to two months and then aged
for 2 months to 20+ years in order to create dark black leaves and a
dark color to the brew. In this fermentation process the leaves are
intentionally kept damp to encourage good microbes and bacteria to
slowly oxidize and ferment the leaves. This is distinguished from red
tea which typically only takes about 6-10 hours to oxidize. Pu-erh tea
typically has a strong fermentation taste but high quality pu-erh should
not taste overly earthy as this is a sign of low quality production
Neither red nor black tea is to be confused with
Rooibos, often called “Red Bush Tea” or “Rea Tea” for short. Rooibos
(Aspalathus linearis) is a South African plant that is a member of the
legume family and is not related to the tea plant (Camellia sinensis).
Rooibos has a very different taste and feel than red (or black!) tea, it
is much sweeter and lighter than black tea, although it is often mixed
with sugar and cream or a lemon as you might find heavy black tea
drinking countries such as England or the United States.
this helps clear up the difference between red tea, black tea, and
rooibos. If you have any follow-up questions, please feel free to leave a
comment or send us an email at email@example.com.