Process: Black tea is the majority of the tea that’s consumed in the Western world.
The leaves are first exposed to hot air to reduce the water content by half. This step begins to release the enzyme responsible for oxidation. The leaves are then rolled by either hand or machine, which lets the essential oils to spread. This is an important step as it gives black tea its flavor and aroma. Finally, the leaves are oven dried to stop the oxidation process. Black tea is 90% oxidized.
Unlike other teas, black tea has a grading scale. Whole-leaf teas are the highest quality, followed by broken leaves, fannings and dust. Whole-leaf teas are most valuable since they are produced with care to keep the leaf unbroken. These are often used in loose-leaf teas. Broken leaves are commonly used in tea bags. Are whole-leaf teas better than broken leaves? Well, that depends on your taste and what you are trying to achieve from your perfect cup of tea.