Known as Hong Cha or Red Tea, the Chinese use this term to describe the colouration of the tea liquor once brewed. We in the west call it Black Tea on account of the colouration of the dried leaves.
A relatively new category of tea compared to the others. The first accounts of Black Tea production date back to the fourteenth and fifteenth century during the Ming Dynasty. It became more popular during the nineteenth century due to trade routes opening up to foreign lands.
After harvesting the spring leaves of varying sizes, the tea is laid out on bamboo or wire meshing for a whole day to dry and lessen the moisture content. At a cellular level the enzymes in the leaves react with the oxygen helping it change integrity from a green to a black colour. The level of timing and exposure is fundamental to the colour and flavour of the tea. When the desired oxidisation level is achieved, the leaves are placed under hot air blowers to remove any moisture that may still be present.
Fully fermented black tea has a longer shelf life and was the ideal tea category for trade between far off nations within Europe and the United States.