Black tea might not exactly be the Rodney Dangerfield (gets no respect) of the tea world but nowadays it seems that the other five varieties tend to get more attention. To review very briefly, there are generally thought to be five main types of tea in addition to black – green, oolong, white, yellow and puerh.
Every one of these types of teas is produced in China, a fact that should come as no surprise given that tea drinking and culture originated in China and also given that the country is one of the world’s top tea producers to this day.
Some of the world’s best white and yellow tea (the latter is a relatively rare variety that more or less shares qualities with both white and green tea) comes from China and the country nearly has a monopoly on puerh tea, which is primarily grown in the Yunnan region. China grows numerous varieties of oolong tea and is also very well known for its fine delicately flavored green teas. Among the more notable of these varieties are Dragonwell and Bi Lo Chun.
But it’s the black teas (which the Chinese sometimes refer to as red tea, presumably after the color of the steeped liquid) of China that are due for just a little more respect than they often get, in spite of the fact that they make up less than 15% of the country’s total output.
Among the most notable of these Chinese black teas is Keemun, which has long been a popular component of many breakfast tea blends, but whose faintly smoky overtones and smooth, deep flavor goes down quite nicely when consumed by itself.
Along with puerh, Dian Hong is probably one of the best known of the varieties produced in Yunnan province and is oftentimes simply referred to as Yunnan. It is typically characterized by larger leaves with plenty of golden tips and a very smooth, rich flavor.
Other popular Chinese black teas include Panyang Congou or Golden Monkey, which hails primarily from Fujian province, as does Lapsang Souchong, a black tea that gets its robust flavor the smoke of pine and other resinous woods.