Swing Into Fall: Enjoy Red Tea

by on Sunday, October 14, 2012 5:44:00 PM

As the leaves change color and fall to the earth, you may be looking for a tea to reflect this beautiful time of year. Red tea is a great choice for those crisp fall mornings where you want a full bodied tea with a beautiful color and a clean finish like you have come to expect from our teas.

Red tea or "Hong Cha" as it is called in China is a fully oxidized tea. Not to be confused with Rooibos, red tea is known to the Western world as black tea and is called red tea in China because it produces a shimmering dark amber colored tea when brewed.

According to the best estimates, red tea was developed in China in the 18th century due to the rising demands from Great Britain and the East India Tea Company for a cheaper tea that could be transported more easily. Since red tea is a fully oxidized tea there was much less risk of oxidative damage during transport that would diminish the flavor. In addition, tea factories could produce red tea during the entire growing season, so the output was much higher than other types of tea (such as green, white, and wu-long) and the cost lower.

At the same time, it is important to note that many small, family tea farms were busy developing high quality, single origin red teas such as Gongfu Red Tea, translated as red tea produced skillfully. These teas (which you can still find today) are a shining example of fine tea, typically with a nice malty body, complex flavors, and smooth finishes that are completely different from commercial red (black) teas, which tend to be much more bitter, earthy, and thick.

The highly skilled black teas are typically produced by withering the leaves for a short period of time and then twisting or curling the leaves to break the cell walls open and start the oxidation process. Finally the leaves are baked to fully oxidize them and also remove most of the moisture from the leaves. When done correctly, this will produce a delicious, full-bodied tea that has lots of complex flavors and tastes.

High quality red tea is delicious and produces a beautiful amber color when brewed. And with red tea’s warming properties, it is a great choice during the fall and the winter. Enjoy!

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