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What is The Strongest Tasting Black Tea? The Best Black Teas With A Strong Flavor

what is the strongest tasting black tea?

If you are looking for a black tea that can pack a punch with one sip, then this is for you. In this article, you’ll learn how to identify & describe what is the strongest tasting black tea. You will also discover our top 10 black teas with strong flavor and origin.

Let’s get started!

How does a strong black tea taste?

Although the taste is subjective, and we all experience it in different ways (which is part of the magic) typically, a strong black tea has bold malty flavors and a lingering finish. It has a strong, welcoming aroma, is dark in color, and can be a bit astringent.

So, What Is The Strongest Tasting Black Tea?

Now that we know the general profile of a strong-tasting black tea, let’s look at the contenders in our list. The list has three categories: All-around best strong black teas, strongest black teas by caffeine content & finally, black tea blends with a strong flavor.

All-Around Strong Types of Black Tea

Yunnan Golden Special*

Yunnan Golden Special is crafted from older tea plants indigenous to the Yunnan region of China. Furthermore, the tea is full-flavored with buttery undertones and a cinnamon-like finish. It is a tea that should be in any tea cupboard. 

Smoked Lapsang Souchong*

Lapsang Souchong is a Chinese tea smoked over pine or other similar woods that produce a strong flavor and intense smokiness. Lapsang Souchong is sometimes added to other black teas to acquire a hint of smokiness. A favorite of Winston Churchhill, Lapsang Souchong is among the strongest tasting black teas on the market. 

Japanese Yamanami Black Tea*

This black tea is a favorite in Japan, created from a cultivar grown from Chinese tea plants. And it is prevalent because of its malty flavor, smooth sip, and fruity finish. The flavor notes of this black tea tend to be slightly sweet with pleasant undertones of cinnamon. 

Best Black Teas for Caffeine Content & Strong Flavor

Khagorijan Assam black tea*

With about 40 mg of tea, this black tea is an excellent start to any day. Khagorijan Assam boasts a malty aroma, sweetness with each sip, and spice undertones. 

Irish Breakfast Black Tea

Perfect match to a hearty Irish breakfast and throughout the day, this blend of Assam and Ceylon teas packs in the flavor. It goes very well with milk or milk-substitute and sugar, complements its nutty flavor. 

English Breakfast Black Tea

Similar to Irish Breakfast, the English variety is slightly lighter in flavor than its counterpart. It is also enjoyed with milk and sugar. Moreover, it serves as a warm and comforting companion to a hearty breakfast. 

A mug of black tea contains 40 to 60 mg of caffeine. Tempered with milk, or a milk alternative, it’s a perfect companion to a long workday.

Strongest Tasting Black Tea Blends

Pomegranate Lemon Black Tea

A beautiful blend of pomegranate and lemon, this black tea is wonderful iced or hot. The sourness of the lemon leads to the fruity pomegranate bouquet which balances the malty astringency of the black tea. It is a journey of flavors across your palate.  

Ginger Peach Black Tea

The spicy flavor of ginger and the warm summer aroma of peach grace this unique tea blend. Enjoyed iced or hot, every sip is sweet to the taste with a little bit of a kick. 

Earl Grey Black Tea

Said to have been the creation of tea-masters for the Earl of Gray to diminish the taste of lime in his water, this tea has become famous among tea drinkers. The sweet, sour, and floral profile of bergamot pairs famously with the malty and astringent profile of black tea.

Why Would You Want A Strong Black Tea Flavor?

On one hand, black tea is a great base for experimenting with taste. Many black tea drinkers enjoy crafting their own blends or pairing them with flavors like orange and cinnamon. On the other, it also pairs well with foamed and warmed milk for a variation on the latte and cappuccino. You might even consider cooking with tea or marinating pork, beef, or chicken. The flavors of black tea compliment stir-fries, and savory sauces

Furthermore, 84% of all tea consumed in the United States is black tea. People drink it for its flavor, energy boost, and its pairing with various fruits and flavors in iced tea. Black tea is a great substitute for those looking to cut their coffee consumption. With less caffeine, it provides the right amount of pick-me-up without causing jitters or sleeplessness. That is assuming you don’t drink multiple cups late in the evening. 

How to describe strong-tasting black tea?

When describing the taste of black tea consider words like astringent, biscuity, full-bodied, brisk, pungent, smoky, smooth, and full. You might also consider bold, crisp, malty, nutty, short-finished, spicy, and sweet.

As you enjoy your strong cup of black tea you may even come up with new ways to capture the depth and variety of flavors. It’s all part of the experience so don’t be afraid to craft your own descriptions. 

🍵 Related: How to start a tea tasting journal

Now that we know some of the strongest black teas in the market let’s dig deeper into how & where these black teas get their flavor from.

What influences/affects the flavor strength of black tea?

The flavor of black tea can vary considerably depending upon:

  1. Geographic origin
  2. Production method.
  3. The brewing method,
  4. Steeping time
  5. Water quality

Where Does Black Tea Come From?

The majority of black tea is grown and produced in regions of:

  • China
  • India
  • Sri Lanka
  • Japan
  • Taiwan
  • Kenya

This is because, the soil quality, elevation, climate, and temperature of these regions significantly influence the flavor profile of teas grown there. For example, tea harvested in the monsoon season of India will often be darker and stronger than tea harvested in dryer months.

Black Tea Varieties by Geographical Origin

Indian Black Tea 

India is a land steeped in history, full of color, and known for its bold culinary flavors. Tea is no exception.

Assam and Darjeeling black teas are famous around the world for their brisk flavors and full-bodied profiles. Both regions produce a fully oxidized leaf carefully selected and prepared for use in some famous tea blends like an English Breakfast tea. 

The Assam region is home to over 100,000 tea estates which produce about one million metric tons of tea per year.

Most tea grown in this region is for the mass market, with 50% remaining in the Indian market. Assam black tea is nutty and copper tinged with a malty smooth finish.

The Darjeeling region is much smaller than Assam but produces what many consider the finest of black teas. Nestled among monasteries, forests, and gardens, the tea estates produce a black tea renowned for its soft muscatel flavor. Grown at a higher elevation the tea leaves mature slowly producing a slender leaf full of sweetness and flavor. 

Chinese Black Teas

China produces some of the finest and best-tasting black tea in all the regions. Although not as popular as Green and Oolong teas, Chinese black tea is growing in popularity among Chinese drinkers. Chinese black tea makes up about 13 % of all tea produced in China.

Sometimes called Kung Fu tea, black tea in China is produced in the Anhui, Fujian, Sichuan, and Yunnan provinces. The production of black tea in China uses a lighter method which results in a fragrant and smooth sipping tea. 

Rare among Chinese black teas is Lapsang Souchong. It is a smoky black tea originating in the Wuyi Shan region during the 17th century. Created by accident when villagers hid their tea from invading armies, it has become famous for its smoky strong flavor. Today it is made in Taiwan and Fujian. The Taiwanese variety is very strong and heavily smoked. The Fujian variety is milder by comparison.

Japanese Black tea

Japanese black teas are known as wakoucha and stand out among the black tea varieties from India, China, and Kenya. Specific cultivated varieties, or cultivars, have been crafted over the years to produce black teas with less caffeine, bright honey-like flavors, and sweetness. 

Tea is grown in three areas of Japan: Shizuoka, Kyushu, and Uji. Like many other Japanese industries, the tea production of Japan is modern and highly efficient. From the withering process to the selection, Japanese tea production is among the highest quality tea producers around the world. 

Taiwanese Black tea

Taiwan is known for its oolong tea varieties, but because of market competition, Japan began producing black tea in the 1940s. Although still largely producing green and oolong teas, Taiwan produces some fine black teas. The Sun Moon Lake area is the largest producer of black tea in Taiwan with some fantastic varieties being produced. 

In 1936 Taiwan set up the Tea Research Extension Station (TRES) to promote the cultivation of tea in Taiwan and certify tea varieties. The most famous of the TRES certified black teas is Hong Yu or Red Jade. Red Jade (TRES #18) has a deep red color and a smooth berry flavor with hints of cinnamon with its finish.

Sri Lankan Ceylon Tea

Sri Lanka has six tea-growing regions with unique climates affecting the flavor characteristics of the teas produced there. The most famous of all the black tea varieties produced in Sri Lanka is Ceylon, grown in the highlands, and showered by the seasonal monsoons. It has a rich crisp taste, red color, and brisk astringency. 

Tea drives the economy of Sri Lanka with tea estates covering just shy of 500,000 acres of land. The soil composition varies across the island influencing the differences in tea produced in each region. This factor accompanied by the warm winds, rainy season, and altitude combine to produce a pleasing range of flavors with each variety. Orange Pekoe is a great tea to start with as you explore the Sri Lankan varieties.

Kenyan Black Tea

Kenya is a relative newcomer to the tea trade. First cultivated in the Great Rift Valley in 1903, Kenya rose to become the third-largest producer of black tea in 100 years. The Rift Valley highlands provide an excellent climate for high-quality and quantity tea growth. Most tea estates are planted at elevations ranging from 4,000 to 9,000 feet possessing rich volcanic soil, and plenty of sunlight. 

Kenya’s tea production is primarily focused on black tea. The production process used is called cut, tear, curl, or CTC for short. This process involves withering the leaves and breaking them down to produce a granular “chutney” or minced leaf. CTC Kenyan black tea is used in many major international brands to add strength and flavor to their blends. About 85% of tea in Kenya is sold to these major brands making it difficult to find unblinded.

What is the Best temperature for a strong Black tea flavor?

Black teas are best steeped in freshwater between 180 and 200 degrees Fahrenheit. Earl Grey, English Breakfast, and Irish Breakfast are best between 185 and 200 degrees. Darjeeling varieties are best steeped at 180 to 195 degrees. Assam and Yunnan Golden Special brew best at 180 to 190 degrees. Lapsang Souchong produces the best flavor between 190 and 210 degrees. 

How Long Should You Steep Black Tea To Get Strong Flavor?

Most black teas should be steeped between 3 and 4 minutes. Time can vary depending upon personal taste. Experiment a bit to find your preferred brew. Yunnan Golden Special, Lapsang Souchong, and Assam are best steeped between 2 to 5 minutes. 

Learn to Prepare Black Tea: Step by step

Step 1: Gather your tools. 

You will need an electric kettle or pot for your stove-top, a sieve if using loose leaf tea, and a spoon if adding milk and sugar. 

Step 2: Pick your favorite black tea or a new one from our list!

A great cup of tea begins with great tea. Return to one of your favorites or pick out a new variety. A favorite tea is like a company with an old friend. Grab your favorite variety, or experiment with one of the teas from above. 

Step 3: Use filtered or freshwater. 

The base of any tea is water. Filtered water reduces the impact of flavors present in residential water supplies, and allows for the full flavor of the tea to come through. If filtered water isn’t an option, always fill your tea kettle with fresh water. 

Step 4: Heat the water to the appropriate temperature.

Be careful with this step. Plenty of distracted tea drinkers has left their pot boiling while engrossed in other activities. You can alleviate this by using an electric kettle. Some kettles even come with temperature settings allowing more precision with your brew. 

Step 5: Pro Tip! Warm your cup.

This often-overlooked step is a crucial one to enjoying your hot cup of tea. Warm your cup to minimize the slight temperature decrease that occurs with a cold cup. This decrease can have a moderate effect on the steeping process. But more importantly, results in a piping hot cup of black tea ready for your enjoyment. 

Step 6: Measure out your tea or select your teabag. 

Follow the instructions on your tea container or experiment with the quantity of tea to find your preferred taste. It can be fun to experiment with, creating your own blends and strength profiles. 

Step 7: Pour the hot water and let sit for the full 3-5 minutes.

Pour 6 to 8 ounces of water over your tea leaves or tea bag. Gently stir once or twice to ensure full saturation of the tea leaves. Let sit and allow to steep for the full amount of time. If you prefer a stronger brew, leave it to the full 5 minutes or just beyond. 

Step 8 (Optional): Sweeten and add cream to taste.

Popular tea blends like Earl Grey, English Breakfast, and Irish Breakfast pair well with milk, milk alternatives, and various sweeteners. Add each ingredient to taste. The Assam varieties of India pair well with milk and sugar.

Step 9: Enjoy!

Find that special place and sip the nutty flavor over a good book. Or brew up an extra cup and enjoy the warmth and aroma of black tea together with someone you care about. 

How to describe strong-tasting black tea?

When describing the taste of black tea consider words like astringent, biscuity, full-bodied, brisk, pungent, smoky, smooth, and full. You might also consider bold, crisp, malty, nutty, short-finished, spicy, and sweet. As you enjoy your strong cup of black tea you may even come up with new ways to capture the depth and variety of flavors. It’s all part of the experience so don’t be afraid to craft your own descriptions. 

Where to buy strong black tea?

Because of the popularity of black tea, it isn’t hard to find. Your local tea store, or grocery, carries the most popular blends. A search for black tea on Amazon will also produce a range of quality tea and tea products for the budding tea connoisseur. For special varieties and to explore the world of black tea check out telyra and The Tea Spot. Each site has a variety of black teas to choose from along with great accessories. You can also find quality information on flavor, origin, and recommendations for preparation. 

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