With so many tea varieties to choose from, where do you begin? Here we’ll explore the varieties of black tea, how it differs from its close cousins: white, green, oolong and red tea. Then we'll look deeper and highlight the typical side effects black tea can be responsible for. 

First, let’s be clear on what black tea actually is. It comes from the Camellia sinensis plant, first discovered in China. The funny thing is in China it is not known as black tea, but red tea. Outside of China, however, red tea refers to the red South African herbal tea called rooibos.

Looking for healthy and tasty black teas? Check out our collection of the best black tea flavors right here.

What is Black Tea?

Believe it or not, black tea is actually the same as green and white tea, the only difference being tin the level of oxidations the tea leaves undergo. Black tea accounts for 90 percent of all tea consumed in the western world and is one of six types of tea known as true teas. The other true teas are green tea, white tea, yellow tea, oolong tea, and pu-erh tea. Black tea is often consumed on its own or with sweetener and milk, though it is also used as the base tea in flavored teas such as Earl Grey and masala chai. Loose leaf black tea often offers malty flavor with a full body and hints of caramel or chocolate notes. That being said, just like any true tea type, each black tea has a character and personality of its own to be discovered. 

Types of Black Tea

Each country listed below has its own unique black tea with a distinct flavor profile. You can take your taste buds on a tea journey as you begin to explore the wonderful world of black tea. Here are some of the most renowned varieties by country:

From China you will find Congou, Keemun, Lapsang Souchong Dianhoung, Yingdehong, Jiu Qu Hong Mei (oxidized black tea) and Pu'erh (truly fermented black tea). Taiwan’s most popular black tea is Sun Moon Lake. India most frequently drinks Assam, Darjeeling, Kangra, Munnar and Nilgiri black teas.  Jaekseol comes from Korea. Nepali, yes you guessed it, Nepal. Ceylon originates in Sri Lanka. Turkey makes Rize.

You can also spice up that culinary adventure with blends you may already be familiar with including Chai tea blends, Earl Grey variations and English breakfast.

While black tea has many proclaimed health benefits, there are also potential side effects you should be aware of when choosing your daily teas. 

Side Effects of Black Tea

High Caffeine Content

Aside from some pu-erh teas, black teas have the highest caffeine content of the true tea types. This can prove problematic for individuals who have a sensitivity to the energizing compound with side effects including nausea, jitters, and insomnia. Furthermore, regular consumption of high levels of caffeine can lead to stomach ulcers and other internal issues. If you have reactions to caffeine in other products, limit your intake of black teas to reduce risk of experiencing negative side effects. 

Potential Consumption of Heavy Metals

 When consuming tea it is important to be cognizant of where your leaves come from. Different teas from around the world will not only exhibit unique flavor profiles but are a product of the environment in which they are grown. Different soils will contain different components including varying levels of heavy metals which then affect the tea plants. Studies have shown that in areas where black tea is consumed regularly individuals maintained safe levels of heavy metals in their system,  but more research is needed. If you drink black tea daily it is important to keep this in mind and talk to your doctor if you have any concerning symptoms arise. 

Oral Side Effects

Black tea has been touted in recent years as being a highly beneficial for oral health. Black tea contains polyphenols which have the potential to prevent a multitude of health issues. However, black tea can negatively affect oral health in the fact that regular consumption of black tea can stain your teeth. Tannins and other components in tea that help give the leaves their flavor also contribute to unwanted tooth discoloration. To avoid this, try switching to oolong teas or green teas

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