Black tea is a kind of fermented tea, originating from green tea after it is mixed, kneaded, fermented, dried, and otherwise processed The water of green tea is freshly green while that of black tea is orange red. But this difference is only skin-deep. What is more important is that black tea doesn’t undergo the processes of steaming green or frying green, but is fermented, during which time the tea leaves go through chemical reactions – tea phenol reduced over 90% and tea yellow element and red element being produced. If these two elements are in a right proportion, the waters color will be red and bright. While green tea retains the thin and freshening flavor of the leaves, the fermented black tea gives a stronger and thicker flavor. Black tea first appeared in Qing Dynasty, much younger than green tea. But it occupied an important position in China’s foreign trade at the end of Qing Dynasty, with the largest amount of all kinds of tea that were exported to Europe and America.
Black tea originated in Fujian and its vicinities, and later spread to other provinces in the south. At present, black tea is the most produced and most widely drunk tea. It can be divided into three groups: Kungfu black tea, small piece black tea, and broken black tea. Broken black tea a new type developed in India to which the black tea produced in Lanka also belongs, China started to trial produce this group in the 1950s. Small piece black tea is the earliest black tea in China, produced near Fujian (southeast coast of China) and Chong’an. Gongfu black tea is a Chinese specialty developed on the basis of small piece black tea, and is also the most representative black tea of China. Considering the different origins of Chinese Gongfu black tea, they are divided into Qimen Gongfu of Anhui, Dianhong Gongfu of Yunnan, Ninghong Gongfu of Jiangxi, Minhong Gongfu of Fujian, etc.
Qimen Gongfu tea has a history of over 100 years. In late Qing Dynasty, a retired officer from Fujian brought the making method of black tea back to his hometown Anhui. He set up a Qimen Teahouse, improved small piece black tea, and created a unique Qimen Gongfu black tea. Leaves of this kind of tea should be picked around Clear and Bright,and should go through two major processes of primary making and refining. After primary making, newly picked leaves become crude tea, which should be assorted according to their weight, color and shape. This assortment the refilling process. Qimen Gongfu black tea requires a very particular making process – baked in a sealed room and heated with low temperature to bring out the fragrance of the leaves. The color of this tea is jet black with a bit gray praised as “precious ligjit” Cooked, the water ii bright, red and fragrant with a lingering aftertaste. With different processes, there are different flavors such as honey flavor, flower flavor and fruit flavor, known as “Qimen flavor.”