The world of tea is generally divided into Green tea, Black Tea, White Tea and Oolong Tea. The oldest tea is of course, in its simplest and purest form - green tea. However, over the centuries, leaves from the tea bush (Camellia Sinensis and Camellia Assamica) started to be processed in different ways, and an entire new world of black tea, white tea and oolong tea opened up!


While China and Japan are traditionally drinkers of green tea, the western world enjoys the stronger brew made from black tea. In India, almost all tea consumed is black tea - boiled with loads of sugar and spices to make the famous masala chai. In the UK, robust and malty breakfast teas are preferred, while the aromatic Earl Grey black teas come a close second.


Indian, Sri Lankan and African teas are predominantly black teas, made either using the orthodox process (producing leaves) or the CTC process (crush-tear-curl process, producing pellets or granular tea). Even in China and Japan, some excellent black teas are made - albeit in smaller quantities - but are equally sought after by tea connoisseurs all over the world.


Here are some of the best black teas in the world :



Darjeeling Black Tea

Arguably, the finest and most exquisite of black teas in the world, Darjeeling Black tea is prized for its distinctive flavor and unique characteristics. Grown exclusively in the Darjeeling region of India, nestled in the foothills of the Himalayas, this elegant tea is medium-bodied tea with a rich amber hue, known for its complex and delicate flavor profile.

Darjeeling Black tea produced during spring, summer, and autumn flushes - each has a distinct character to the tea, making it a seasonal delight. As the seasons change, so do the nuances of the flavor, ensuring a diverse range of experiences for tea enthusiasts. While the spring flush (also known as the first flush) teas are light-bodied and floral, the summer flush (also known as the second flush) teas are mid-bodied, astringent and fruity. Select teas also have unique notes of muscatel grapes.

Whether sipped in solitude or shared among friends, Darjeeling Black tea is a timeless beverage that encapsulates the essence of the Himalayan mountains. Its elegance, history, and unparalleled taste have earned it a well-deserved place in the hearts of tea aficionados worldwide.


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Assam Black Tea

Hailed as the "strongest tea in the world," Assam Black tea originates from the fertile plains of the Assam region in northeastern India. Cultivated from the robust Camellia Assamica variety of the tea bush, this bold and full-bodied tea boasts a rich reddish-brown hue and a robust flavor profile.

Known for its invigorating and malty characteristics, Assam Black tea   stands up well to milk and sugar, making it a popular choice for traditional breakfast blends like English Breakfast and Irish Breakfast teas.


Nilgiri Black Tea

Nilgiri Black tea is cultivated in the picturesque Nilgiri Mountain range of southern India. Grown at elevations ranging from 1,000 to 2,500 metres amidst cool climate and misty surroundings, Nilgiri Black Tea is a mellow and gentle-smooth cup, makes it an ideal choice for iced tea as well as a base for flavored and blended teas, offering a platform for creative combinations.



Nuwara Eliya Black Tea

Perhaps the most famous of all Sri Lankan teas, Nuwara Eliya Black tea grown in the misty highlands of Sri Lanka's central province, is a tea of elegance and subtlety. Grown at elevations reaching up to 2,000 meters, the Nuwara Eliya Black tea is renowned for its light and delicate body, accompanied by a crisp and bright flavor profile. Its pale golden liquor is a visual testament to its delicate nature, while its subtle astringency adds a refreshing quality that makes it an ideal choice for afternoon enjoyment.


Dimbulla Black Tea

Dimbulla Black tea is grown in the picturesque Dimbulla region in Sri Lanka's central highlands at elevations ranging from 1,000 to 1,800 meters, It is known for its medium to full body, often characterized by a well-balanced flavor profile that includes notes of brightness, briskness, and subtle hints of fruitiness. The amber-colored cup is a delightful medley of briskness, floral undertones, and sometimes a touch of citrus


Uva Black Tea

Cultivated in the captivating Uva region of Sri Lanka at elevations between 1,000 and 1,700 meters, Uva Black tea is medium to full bodied with a distinctive balance of boldness and  briskness, strength and astringency, with subtle fruity-floral undertones.



Keemun Black Tea

Keemun (also known as Qi Men) Black tea is one of the highly-prized Chinese tea hailing from Qimen County in the Anhui province. Keemun Black tea is renowned for its distinctive subtle smokiness and woody aroma, with a full bodied cup of sweet maltiness, accompanied with edges of wine and fruits. With a rich, reddish-brown liquor, Keemun Black Tea was traditionally used as a base of all top breakfast blends.


Lapsang Souchong

Widely believed to be the first ever black tea, Lapsang Souchong is immediately recognised for its signature pinewood smokiness. La(pine) Song (wood) Souchong (larger lower leaf of the tea bush) is grown in the Wuyi Mountains in the Fujian province. Lapsang Souchong is carefully withered and dried over pine wood fires, infusing the leaves with a rich smokiness. This iconic smoking process creates a flavor profile that is both intense and unforgettable, with a brilliant fusion of pinewood smokiness and a robust, lingering taste.


Golden Monkey and Golden Needle

Golden Monkey and Golden Needle are premium Congou tea leaves in Fujian province. They are characterized by dark and twisted leaves, often accompanied by golden tips that lend an exquisite appearance to the tea. They have a medium to full body, with balanced briskness and a sweet character.

(In China, Black teas are generally known as Red teas. They are not as strong as a typical Assam or African black teas, but are mellower.)




Black tea in Japan is very recent. It was only at the beginning of the twentieth century that the first Black tea cultivar was discovered in Japan. In Japan, all Black teas are known as Wakoucha. They are less astringent and mellower than Indian and Sri Lankan Black teas, which are indeed much stronger and full-bodied. Wakoucha also generally has an undertone of delicate flavours that are floral and a tinge of sweetness. 


There is a whole world of Black teas waiting for you! Try the sweet-smoky Lapsang Souchong or the rich-malty Assam or the elegant-exquisite Darjeeling.


About the Author :

Ketan Desai is the Chief Tea Officer at VAHDAM Teas. After a brief stint with the family tea business, Ketan went on to work with some of the top tea planters, tasters, blenders and marketers across India, Sri Lanka, Russia and the CIS countries, the UK, Bangladesh, Indonesia  and Africa. 

A seasoned tea-taster and blender, and a passionate raconteur, Ketan conducts tea workshops and events, regaling participants with amusing stories while explaining the finer nuances of tea during live tasting sessions.

At VAHDAM Teas, Ketan spearheads tea, content and community initiatives. He leads TEACH ME, VAHDAM’s social initiative focused on education of children at tea estates.

Ketan's favourite tea is Darjeeling Muscatel, which he prefers to have without milk or sugar. He can be contacted at @baldmanoftea on twitter, @baldmanoftea on instagram or at

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