Which black teas are your favorites?

Fully oxidized tea leaves for a robust cup.


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May 29th, '16, 22:59
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Re: Which black teas are your favorites?

by john.b » May 29th, '16, 22:59

Wasn't it the case that the British tried to grow var. sinensis teas from China in India, but later realized that the closely related native var. assamica plant that was already there was better suited to the climate? As I recall that's the standard story.

Of course that doesn't mean much related to personal preference for black teas made from one type or another today, or to quality and character of individual teas. It's interesting to try and get closer to finding teas grown and processed similarly from both plant types, but it essentially requires the same grower to make more than one type of tea to narrow down the variables, and even then their processing techniques could just be better suited to one type, or the local climate could be more suitable to one than the other.

I think the one Indonesian black tea I've still not tried (from Toba Wangi plantation) is from a var. sinensis plant type, with the other I already wrote about being assamica, so I'll have to see what I can determine for sure and describe from that. The teas look completely different though, with the second based on a mix of buds and leaves, so that factor alone would be too much variation to extend differences to say something about general types.

I agree with jayinhk; var. sinensis blacks have been nicer per my preferences. I've only tried "ruby" from Taiwan and couldn't get past the minty taste so that hasn't worked out so well related to black teas from Taiwan.

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May 29th, '16, 23:17
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Re: Which black teas are your favorites?

by john.b » May 29th, '16, 23:17

ethan wrote:john b., I never tasted that Thai black tea that you mention. By Tea-Side vendor do you mean to say Tea-Village?
Tea Side, a different vendor: http://tea-side.com/red-and-black-tea/red-tea-jin-xuan/

I really should buy some of this tea. I get so caught up in trying samples and ordering the next thing I really want to try that I miss what's right in front of me, and at $6.50 per 50 grams this tea is underpriced, it seems to me.

Maybe they recognize how good it is or maybe they don't appreciate it as much as I did. The problem could be with market demand. I don't think very many people are clear on how good a Jin Xuan based black tea might be. It's an oolong plant type that usually ends up making relatively ordinary oolong, it seems to me, that people might make a big deal of related to being "buttery," but this black is much more interesting, clearly better, per my preference.

While I'm mentioning this vendor, they sell a lot of Thai pu'er style tea (hei cha, dark tea, post-fermented tea; name it as you will). It seems nice to me, some of it, especially since they are selling older teas (for reasonable prices at that), but I'm not the right person to give the most informed judgment on that.

Jun 5th, '16, 18:56
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Re: Which black teas are your favorites?

by steepedteamelanie » Jun 5th, '16, 18:56

I love Earl Grey De La Crème and Coco Mint.

Jun 22nd, '16, 15:57
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Re: Which black teas are your favorites?

by Argentum » Jun 22nd, '16, 15:57

I'm fond of Taiwanese black teas and Yunnan dian hong.

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Feb 19th, '17, 14:04
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Re: Which black teas are your favorites?

by Psyck » Feb 19th, '17, 14:04

I like most Black teas and generally start the day with them - Assam Summer Teas, Darjeeling SF, Dian Hong, Jin Jun Mei, Taiwanese Blacks. Didn't particularly like Keemum.

Feb 19th, '17, 16:14
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Re: Which black teas are your favorites?

by whatsinaname » Feb 19th, '17, 16:14

Love the updated forum!

I always crave hongcha and other dark teas during the cold winter months.

Presently on the tea shelf: roasted tung-ting from FLT, cooked puerh from FLT, Taiwan ruby 18 hongcha from FLT, Hei cha from TT, Lapsang from ?, 90s small yellow label from EOT.

Felt like Spring today in New England. Time to break out the Bulang, baozhong, and Lishan!

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Feb 26th, '17, 01:16
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Re: RE: Re: Which black teas are your favorites?

by joelbct » Feb 26th, '17, 01:16

daidokorocha wrote:Not Ceylon tea... I don't really love Indian teas but I always find myself very attracted to a good cup of Assam. They are almost always delicious and sometimes brilliant. Highly satisfying with some surprises here and there. However, I've come to wonder, is there even such thing as a good Ceylon? Probably the only tea I dislike. Either I have had nothing but bad Ceylons...
A few months late here, but I've greatly enjoyed the best offerings from Vithanakande Estate. There was specialteas.com, RIP, then I used 'The Tea Spot,' and I'm not sure how I'd find it now. Anyone? My favorite US black tea importers tend to go out of business!

Also would be nice to find a source for the best Assams, like Meleng and Mangalam. I tried every Assam offering from Upton a couple years ago and then gave up, most were mediocre. Ito En sometimes stocks consistenly good China and India blacks, but not a huge breadth.

The best black tea I've had the past few years has been Imperial Mojiang Golden Bud Autumn Harvest, from Yunnan Sourcing.

And as for assimica vs sinensis, I for one love both. Perhaps sinensis blacks can be more subtle or nuanced, but the rich malty tannin profile of a top flight Assam or Yunnan black can be magnificent. I've never cared much for even the best Darjeelings though. Just a matter of taste.

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Feb 26th, '17, 17:14
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Re: Which black teas are your favorites?

by cwj » Feb 26th, '17, 17:14

I really enjoy northern Fujian/Wuyi black teas.
There are some interesting ones I've been getting from a surprisingly little known vendor, including a black shui xian that I find to be fantastic.
(Am I allowed to mention specific vendors? I feel this one is underrated, and there's so little info about them anywhere).

I also just enjoy Chinese black tea in general.
I'm much less enthusiastic about Ceylon teas and Indian teas...but I haven't really explored those two origins very thoroughly.

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Feb 28th, '17, 18:38
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Re: Which black teas are your favorites?

by tst » Feb 28th, '17, 18:38

Anyone have a link to a good taiwanese black to try? Thanks!

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Feb 28th, '17, 21:48
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Re: Which black teas are your favorites?

by Teasenz » Feb 28th, '17, 21:48

I'm based in China, so my main chooses are Fujian black teas (Lapsang & Jinjunmei) or the Dian Hong black teas from Yunnan. I used to be more fond of Fujian black teas, because they're more sweet, but since the last few years, I like the complexity of Dian Hong blacks more.

Mar 1st, '17, 02:16
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Re: Which black teas are your favorites?

by Bok » Mar 1st, '17, 02:16

Taiwan high mountain Lishan black or the bug bitten variety of it.
Or a good old N.18 from Sun Moon Lake, sometimes they also call it Red Jade or Ruby.

Although the Lishan blacks are difficult to mess up, very forgiving teas. N.18 can be a bit more tricky if one doesn’t pay attention.

Quite the trend recently in Taiwan, black teas popping up everywhere. Comparatively pricey.

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Mar 1st, '17, 14:10
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Re: Which black teas are your favorites?

by joelbct » Mar 1st, '17, 14:10

My favorite black red teas have been:
China: "good" versions of:
Keemun Hao Ya A
Keemun Spring Dawn
Golden Yunnan, the best all-gold tips
Downy red Fujian from specialteas that i think they called "Monkey-Picked Fujian"
Imperial Mojiang Autumn from Yunnan Sourcing

India:
Assam Meleng and Mangalam Estates, "SFTGFOP1" or such

Ceylon:
Vithanakande Estate, again, "SFTGFOP" or something.

If anyone can recommend any current US or US-shipping vendors for China or India blacks, let me know. I used to use specialteas.com, theteastop.com, Ito En (although Japanese of course, their US site always offers a few decent China/India teas), Yunnan Sourcing, and I'm sure I've tried blacks from Teaspring and Seven Cups. I think the vendors threads on this forum might be a bit outdated?

Mar 1st, '17, 22:11
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Re: Which black teas are your favorites?

by ethan » Mar 1st, '17, 22:11

Bok wrote: Taiwan high mountain Lishan black or the bug bitten variety of it.
Or a good old N.18 from Sun Moon Lake, sometimes they also call it Red Jade or Ruby.

Although the Lishan blacks are difficult to mess up, very forgiving teas. N.18 can be a bit more tricky if one doesn’t pay attention.

Quite the trend recently in Taiwan, black teas popping up everywhere. Comparatively pricey.
+1 to Bok's list though the #18 would be a little lower down the list for me. Above it would be the Himalayan Orange from Jun Chiyabari in Nepal that I still enjoy after years. (Now I use less heat & time to steep & it drinks somewhat like an oolong while still being a black tea.)

Note about Red Jade or Ruby (#18): though it was created by research center for tea in Taiwan which might lead one to infer there would be consistency like in a laboratory, I've found the range of quality for #18 goes from undrinkable (including 1 from FLT years ago & samples at the airport in Taipei of #18 being sold at high prices) to excellent (got 1 in Tainan reasonably priced & organic #18 teabags at Sun Moon Lake which offer the convenience w/o losing flavor but unfortunately are quite expensive).

Mar 1st, '17, 23:28
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Re: Which black teas are your favorites?

by Bok » Mar 1st, '17, 23:28

Yes Himalayan Orange is quite nice to, though for me Darjeeling and Darjeeling-type teas are probably more of a separate class of teas, rather than black tea.

Agree as well N.18 is tricky and can be unpleasant, I’ve had the one from the old japanese factory at the Lake, which is supposedly the official one. It fared less well than another one I was gifted recently which was much smoother and less fickle to brew.

The good black teas from Taiwan are all expensive, like a good gaoshan.
the cheap ones, while nice are also considerably less complex and enjoyable.

I have had really weird blacks which tasted of chocolate! Not in a good way, nasty! Some of the very old fashioned cold black tea you get here on the street, tastes like this, stomach destroying bombs of astringency and sugar (don’t even think taking it unsweetened).

Mar 22nd, '17, 22:31
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Re: Which black teas are your favorites?

by devites » Mar 22nd, '17, 22:31

I just placed an order with adagio so I get to try a bunch of samples as I a total noob when it comes to black teas ! and I haven't cracked all of them yet, but my favourites so far are the Wuyi, seems to be a black oolong and the darjeeling sungma , also seems rather oolongish and floral, and the Irish Breakfast, great with milk! and my least favourite is lapsing soughing. mostly because the smell is gross!

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