Flavored Black Teas
Tea lovers have always been inordinately fond of the wide variety of black teas that exist. Black is wonderful when iced, and it has its fans located in every corner of the United States. Connoisseurs have long decided that they want something that is better than the black teas sold at the grocery store, and have gone in search of the highest quality black leaves they can locate.
The Internet has made this search much easier than it would have been even twenty years ago. Nowadays, there is no black variety in existence that cannot be purchased from a vendor online. Some of the best blacks are blends, and the highest quality blends are usually made from leaves that have been hand harvested.
Yes, even in today's automated world, there is still a crop that is harvested by hand! Young leaves can be fragile, and hand plucking insures that they will not be crushed and ruined. The workers who pick the leaves will usually choose the youngest plants because they will normally provide the best tasting iced tea. Many people have never stopped to consider how black tea is normally processed. The leaves are processed in order to allow them to oxidize as much as possible, for this is what brings out their flavor.
Special racks are used to allow the leaves to dry for up to 24 hours. Then, the leaves are rolled in order to crush the leaves. This allows the natural juices of the leaves to emerge. Fermentation of the leaves begins just as soon as they are rolled.
Once the rolling has been done, the leaves are separated and spread out in order to let them oxidize. The oxidation process is what gives black tea its rich color, delicious taste, and bold strength. Once the oxidation has been completed, the leaves are fired. This stops the oxidation. Since there are an estimated 2000 plus varieties of tea in the world, it is interesting that black remains a perennial favorite among so many people. Is it the rich aroma and beautiful color of black, or is it the taste of the different varieties? Iced black tea is something that is very much a classic, and the Sinharaja variety could possibly be the definitive black iced tea.
It is a wonderful darkbrew, with a hint of natural berry flavor. No berries are in this tea, of course. Sinharaja gets its unique and distinctive flavor because it is grown in Ceylon. This black from Ceylon grows in Sri Lanka, very close to the rainforests.
It is the cool temperature and the dampness of this area that enhances Sinharaja. It may look dark in the glass when it is iced, but Sinharaja is actually a bit milder than most blacks. It's a tea that, like others grown in Ceylon, will not get bitter, no matter how long you steep it. If you by chance accidentally forget you are making iced Sinharaja and leave a pitcher of it to steep for an hour, no need to sigh and pour it out, and start your brewing over again. The tea will be just right! Another black that is stunning when enjoyed over ice is Earl Grey. Many people would not think of trying this brew in any way other than hot, with milk and sugar.
However, Earl Grey, with its Bergamot flavoring, tastes perfect iced. Bergamot is a citrus fruit with a lemony-orange flavor. Lemon slices are quite popular in iced tea, and the citrus aroma and taste in Earl Grey will surprised you when you try it iced. It is as if the coldness of the ice enhances the citrus flavor! Of course, let's not forget the taste of quality black tea as well! Earl Grey is a memorable favorite that should have a revival as iced tea. Darjeeling is a black variety from India that has been informally dubbed as "The Champagne of Teas." Fans of Darjeeling would agree that their love of the blend has much to do with the fact that the tea can taste different depending on how high up on the mountainsides it grew.
This tea is not supposed to be labeled as Darjeeling unless it was grown in India, but unfortunately, counterfeiting does go on. Iced Darjeeling has a bit of spiciness, and a flowery aroma. It is not as dark when brewed as some black's, but this does not affect its wonderful flavor at all! The nice thing about black tea is that there are so many different varieties for the aficionado who is experimenting with iced teas. And, don't think you have to wait for warm weather to enjoy iced tea! You can savor the flavor of black iced teas year round!.
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