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Types of Chinese Black Tea

Chinese black tea is classified into black strip tea and black broken tea according to process.

Black strip tea production requires full fermentation. The flavor is mellow and sweet. It is compressed by two rollers at different speeds, cut and rolled. The fermentation degree is light. The poly-phenol content in the tea is high. The taste is strong and fresh. In general, red strip tea is suitable for drinking without seasoning while red broken tea is more suitable for drinking with other additives.

Black strip tea is classified into Souchong black tea and Gongfu black tea.

1. Xiao Zhong Hong Cha 小种红茶(Souchong)

Black tea, created in the early 17th century(some believe that it was the 19th century). Originated from today's Tongmuguan. Wuyishan City, Fujian Provience of China. It is also called Souchong Black Tea, which is the first black tea in the world.

Souchong is further segmented based on the specific geographical area in which the tea is harvested.

It is classified into Zheng Shan Xiao Zhong (正山小种)-Lapsang souchong and Wai Shan Xiao Zhong(外山小种)-Waishan Souchong.

Lapsang souchong, produced in Tongmuguan, Xingcun Village of Wuyishan National Nature Reserve, is also called Xingcun Souchong or Tongmuguan Souchong. It is said to be the finest in this category

Souchong, produced in Shaowu,Guangze, Zhenghe, Tanyang, Beiling, Gutian, Pingnan, Shanxian of Fujian and Qianshan of Jiangxi, is of lower grade and called Waishan souchong or artificial souchong.

This type of brew features large leaves that are rolled lengthwise and differs from other black teas of the world because of the pine-smoked aroma that is infused during processing. The original style of black tea from the Wu Yi mountains. Higher grades are comprised of broad open leaves and are roasted and dried by the heat an earthen oven wood burning fire. This oven is thought to have evolved, or at least is similar to the oven used to dry tobacco. This style of processing tea may intentionally expose the drying leaves to the smoke of horse tail pine trees during drying to impart a prominent tarry character that its teas are known for. This was not the intention in the beginning.

2. Gong Fu Hong Cha 功夫红茶(Kongfu, Congou)

Gongfu black tea is a unique Chinese tea. The key for Gongfu black tea production is the time-consuming effort which is necessary for good tea.

Gongfu black tea varies in quality due to the varieties of origins and tea plant species.

The most famous ones are:

Qihong Gongfu(Keemun)  from Anhui Province, which includes:

-Fuliang Gongfu

      -Huoshan Gongfu

Dianhong Gongfu(Golden buds) from Yunnan Province.

Minhong Gongfu from Fujian Province, which includes:

     -Zhenghe Gongfu from Zhenghe of Fujian.

     -Tanyang Gongfu from Fu'an, Tuorong, Shouning, Zhouning, Xiapu and south of Pingnan in Fujian.

     -Bailin Gongfu from Fuding area of Fujian.

Others include:

Ninghong Gongfu from Jiangxi Provice

Yihong Gongfu from Hubei Provice

Huhong(Xianghong) Gongfu from Hunan Province

Chuanhong Gongfu from Sichuan Province

Yuehong Gongfu from Zhejiang Province.

Taiwan Gongfu from Taiwan

Gongfu black tea is also classified into Large-leaf Gongfu(Dianhong Gongfu, Zhenghe Gong) and Small-leaf Gongfu(Keemun, Yihong Gongfu) according to tea plants.

3. Hong Sui Cha 红碎茶(Broken or Graded Black Tea)

 Broken Black Tea made specifically for foreign consumption. An internationally accepted grading standard for broken black tea categorizes the different types based on whether the tea is Whole Leaf, Broken Leaf, Fannings (small broken pieces that are ideal for quick brewing) or Dust (tiny bits of leaf that are typically used in standard tea bags).
This type of tea is mass produced with modern machinery and is sorted in accordance with the grading system used by the international market.

In China, the broken black tea processed from fresh leaves of the big-leaf species in Yunnan has the highest quality. Currently, most raw tea for home-made tea bags is from the broken black tea producted in Yunnan, Guangdong, Guangxi and Hainan.

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