ingredient information
Tea Black Pekoe Cut
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Black tea is a variety of tea that is more oxidized than the oolong, green, and white varieties. All four varieties are made from leaves of Camellia sinensis. Black tea is generally stronger in flavor and contains more caffeine than the less oxidized teas. Two principal varieties of the species are used, the small-leaved Chinese variety plant (C. sinensis sinensis), also used for green and white teas, and the large-leaved Assamese plant (C. sinensis assamica), which was traditionally only used for black tea, although in recent years some green has been produced. In Chinese and Chinese influenced languages, black tea is known as "crimson tea" (??, Mandarin Chinese hóngchá; Japanese kocha; Korean hongcha), perhaps a more accurate description of the colour of the liquid. The name black tea, however, could alternatively refer to the colour of the oxidized leaves. In Chinese, "black tea" is a commonly used classification for post-fermented teas, such as Pu-erh tea. However, in the Western world, "red tea" more commonly refers to rooibos, a South African tisane. While green tea usually loses its flavor within a year, black tea retains its flavour for several years. For this reason, it has long been an article of trade, and compressed bricks of black tea even served as a form of de facto currency in Mongolia, Tibet, and Siberia into the 19th century.[1] It was known since the Tang Dynasty that black tea steeped in hot water could also serve as a passable cloth dye for the lower classes that could not afford the better quality clothing colours of the time.[citation needed] However, far from being a mark of shame, the "brown star" mark of the dyeing process was seen as much better than plain cloth and held some importance as a mark of the lower merchant classes through the Ming Dynasty.[citation needed] The tea originally imported to Europe was either green or semi-oxidized. Only in the 19th century did black tea surpass green in popularity.[citation needed] Although green tea has recently seen a revival due to its purported health benefits, black tea still accounts for over ninety percent of all tea sold in the West. The expression "black tea" is also used to describe a cup of tea without milk ("served black"), similar to coffee served without milk or cream. Orange pekoe (also spelled pecco) is a term mainly used to describe a grade of tea found in the grading system used in the Western tea trade for sorting black teas (Orange pekoe grading).[1][2] Despite a purportedly Chinese origin, the grading terms are usually used for teas from India, Sri Lanka, and countries other than China and Taiwan, and are not known within these Chinese-speaking countries. The system is based solely upon the size of the processed and dried black tea leaves, although only the better leaves will generally be produced in the higher grades. The term Orange Pekoe is used in the tea industry to describe a basic medium grade black tea consisting of many single whole tea leaves of a specific size;[1] however, it is popularly used in some regions (such as North America) to describe any generic black tea, and is often treated as a description for the consumer as though it were a specific variety of black tea.[3][4] Black teas to be graded in the higher grades of this system must be obtained from new flushes, which are the terminal leaf bud along with a few of the youngest tea leaves. Grading is based solely on the size of the individual leaves and flushes, which is determined by their ability to fall through screens of specific meshes[5] ranging from 8–30 mesh.[6] This parameter also determines loosely the wholeness, or level of breakage, of each leaf, which is also part of the grading system. Although the grading system is far from the only indicator of quality, the size and wholeness of the leaves will generally influence the taste, clarity and brewing-time of the resulting brew.[7] When used outside the context of black tea grading, the term Pekoe, or occasionally Orange pekoe, describes the unopened terminal leaf bud (tips) in tea flushes. As such, terms such as "a bud and a leaf" or "a bud and two leaves", used to describe the "leafiness" of picked flush, are often used interchangeably with pekoe and a leaf or pekoe and two leaves, respectively