10 Great Types of Black Tea

In the West, black tea is the most commonly served type of tea. However, there are many different types of black teas, both packaged in bags or loose-leaf. Below, you'll find descriptions, photos, price listings and reviews of top recommendations for must-try black teas.

  • 01 of 10

    For the Discerning Drinker

    Darjeeling tea from India

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    Commonly known as the "Champagne of Tea," the region of Darjeeling produces what is often considered to be the world's best black tea.

    Darjeeling blends vary substantially by when they are harvested. (Each of the harvests is known as a "flush" and the first flush, harvested in spring, is the most famous and the "greenest" of the flushes.) Generally speaking, Darjeeling teas taste delicate, fruity, floral, and light, and are best served without any milk or sugar added.

  • 02 of 10

    The Connoisseur's Choice

    Keemun black tea

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    Keemun (also known as Qimen hong cha) is from the Anhui Province of eastern China. High-quality Keemun teas are a connoisseur favorite and are noted for their distinctive aromas and flavors, which are often described as smooth, tobacco-like, fruity, floral, piney and reminiscent of wine.

    Although Keemun needs no additives to be enjoyed, it's also good with milk and sugar.

  • 03 of 10

    A Tea Time Favorite

    Crushed black assam tea

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    Assam tea tends to be bold, malty and brisk. It's often used as the base for English and Irish Breakfast Tea and other black tea blends. A bit of sugar and a splash of milk are commonly added to Assamese teas.

    Although most Assam black tea is CTC-processed and readily available in lower-quality bagged versions, it is possible to find high-quality loose-leaf tea from Assam.

  • 04 of 10

    A Chocolaty Finish

    Red Yunnan tea

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    As the name suggests, Yunnan black tea hails from Yunnan—a province in China better known for its pu-erh tea. Some Yunnan black teas are partially fermented, meaning that they straddle the line between black tea and pu-erh. Their flavors are typically chocolaty, dark, malty, and nuanced. Sometimes, they have notes of spice or a lasting sweetness in the finish. People who love chocolate tend to love Yunnan tea.

    Like other teas from China, Yunnan may also be referred to as "hong cha" or red tea.

    Continue to 5 of 10 below.
  • 05 of 10

    A Bolder Option

    Ceylon black tea leaves

    Patrick Kolencherry / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 3.0

    Ceylon teas hail from the island nation of Sri Lanka. As Sri Lanka has an immense range of altitude in a limited space, its terroirs produce a variety of flavor profiles. However, Ceylon teas are generally bold, strong and rich, sometimes with notes of chocolate or spice.

    Most Ceylon teas can handle additions like milk, lemon, sugar, and honey. Ceylons are common bases for Earl Grey blends.

  • 06 of 10

    The Popular Pick

    Earl Grey black tea

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    Earl Grey is the West's most famous flavored tea. It is traditionally flavored with the essential oil of the bergamot citrus fruit. Today, some Earl Grey teas use a mixture of natural and artificial citrus flavors.

    There are many variations on Earl Grey, including Lady Grey (Earl Grey with cornflowers), London Fog (an Earl Grey tea latte with vanilla) and Earl Green (bergamot-flavored green tea).

    Earl Grey's distinctive flavor has made it a popular ingredient in tea-flavored chocolates, baked goods, and cocktails. If you like Earl Grey, you might also like other tea blends, such as masala chai, fruit black teas, and flower black teas.

  • 07 of 10

    Have This One On the Rocks

    Nilgiri tea leaves

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    Nilgiri is a fragrant, floral tea from the mountains of South India. In the 1980s, Nilgiri teas suffered from major quality issues, but in recent years, the teas from this region have vastly improved and earned a spot on the world stage.

    Nilgiri is exceptional when served iced with a little sugar or honey and a wedge of lemon. You can use Nilgiri tea as the base for watermelon iced tea.

  • 08 of 10

    A Rare Gem

    Black tea poured into cup

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    Bai Lin Gong Fu is a nuanced, flavorful, handmade black tea that is rare even in its homeland of China. It can be brewed multiple times in the gong fu style of tea brewing. If you can get your hands on some, it's well worth a try!

    Continue to 9 of 10 below.
  • 09 of 10

    Smoky and Unique

    Lapsong souchong tea

    David Monniaux / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 3.0

     

    Lapsang Souchong is a smoked black tea that varies in flavor from delicately smoky (which is more traditional) to a taste akin to that of an ashtray (which is, unfortunately, more commercial). Lapsang Souchong tends to appeal to people who like bold flavors, such as smoked meats, roasted coffees, and bittersweet chocolates.

    Smoked teas like Lapsang Souchong are usually served hot, with or without a little sugar and lemon. However, they can also make good iced teas.

  • 10 of 10

    The New Tea in Town

    Taiwanese black tea leaves

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    In recent years, countries not well known for black tea have begun to produce better blends. These nations include Taiwan, Thailand, Vietnam, and Japan.
    Taiwanese black teas are sometimes known as Ruby Black or Red Jade. They are typically produced during the summer harvest in Nantou, Taiwan.

    Sometimes, they are bug-bitten for a sweeter flavor profile, much like second flush Darjeeling teas.