Known as "red tea" in China, black tea is now cultivated worldwide.
There are two major types of processing methods for manufacturing black tea: orthodox and CTC (cutting-tearing-curling).
Orthodox black teas are loose leaf artisan made teas in a variety of different
styles and types,and is reserved for more prized teas.
CTC method gives uniform-looking tea mainly used for paper tea bags.
There are three fundamental steps in the processing of orthodox black tea: withering, rolling and oxidation.
During the withering phase the fresh leaves and the freshly picked tea buds, arranged in layers, undergo a slight natural oxidation and lose most of the water content, becoming pliable in view of the subsequent steps.
The rolling step starts the true oxidation process by breaking the leaf's cells and releasing the natural juices and chemicals.
This is done with a rolling machine that presses and twists the leaves, rupturing the inner cells. The third stage is oxidation.
It's during this stage that the leaf begins to develop the recognizable aroma and flavor of black tea, darkening in color, and developing compounds called theaflavins and thearubigins, responsible of the orange-red colour of the tea cup, trough a process called “polyphenol oxidase”.
For this third step the leaves are spread out in thin layers in cool, humid air and left to oxidize for 20 to 30 minutes or more, depending on climate and air temperature.
Black tea can be steeped in boiling water, but do not overboiled it.