Loose Leaf Black Tea
Our selection of loose leaf black tea includes elevated classics – such as Earl Grey infused with vanilla – as well as inventive natural flavorings that complement black tea’s boldness. Hints of coconut and pineapple create tropical vibes, for instance, while unexpected spices and orange peel turn a black tea blend into an indulgent treat.
Typically, in the west, when asking for tea, you’ll receive a pre-packaged tea bag of a standard blend. The best loose leaf black tea, however, is anything but basic. Instead, high-quality black tea is known for being more robust than green teas and, when brewed correctly, exhibits a satisfying smoothness.
What's so special about loose black tea?
Grown mainly in India, Sri Lanka and Africa, black tea actually comes from the same plant as green tea, known as Camellia sinensis. The secret for creating loose leaf black tea is in an oxidization process where the freshly plucked tea leaves are exposed to oxygen that turns them from green to varying shades of brown and black. Different processes, which include crushing, rolling or tumbling the leaves to further expose them to oxygen and then stopping the oxidization process through a heat treatment, result in a variety of shades, flavors, textures and appearances that we’ve come to know as black tea.
The best loose leaf black tea
Just like wine, tea comes in countless varieties and flavor profiles thanks to where the tea leaves were grown, the terroir, the climate, the oxidation process, what kind of heat was used to stop oxidation and how the processed tea leaves were then packaged. Common types of loose black tea include Darjeeling, Assam, Ceylon, Yunnan and Nilgiri. Some brews are savored with milk and sugar, such as Assam, masala chai and English Breakfast, which is typically a strong blend of Assam, Ceylon and Kenyan tea. Other black teas, such as Earl Grey, which is black tea flavored with bergamot oil, and iced Ceylon tea may be sipped with lemon and sugar, while still other blends may be enjoyed simply black depending on the drinker’s preferences.
Though black tea is typically described as more astringent or bitter than green tea, it is also lauded for being more earthy, smokey and nutty. When further enhanced with different flavors and ingredients, loose black tea can taste of fruits, berries and even honey, especially when brewed correctly.
How to brew loose leaf black tea
Of all the different types of tea, black tea is often the simplest to steep. While other tea blends may require water at a specific temperature, for black tea, you can use either nearly boiling or boiling water (200-212°F / 93-100°C). How much loose leaf black tea per cup you use is up to you, but typically we suggest a loose leaf black tea ratio of about one teaspoon (approximately 2-3 grams) of tea leaves per cup of water. Steep the loose leaf black tea leaves for 2-6 minutes depending on your preference – steeping the tea for less time will create a delicate flavor while steeping it longer will result in a stronger flavor.
Want a refreshing chilled black tea instead? It’s possible to cold brew loose black tea for at least four hours in the fridge before straining out the leaves. Alternatively, for a quick glass of iced black tea, you can steep twice the amount of tea leaves as usual in hot water then pour the brew over plenty of ice.
How much caffeine is in loose leaf black tea?
Caffeine levels in loose leaf black tea vary depending on the type of tea leaves used, how they’re processed, if they’re part of a blend, the way the tea is brewed and if it’s mixed with anything…like your cheeky milk and sugar. On average, black tea typically contains around 42 milligrams of caffeine per 8 oz. cup, which is less than a cup of black coffee but more than most green tea varieties. The longer you steep your loose leaf black tea, the more caffeine you will have per cup.
Looking for a loose leaf black tea sampler?
Ready for your next bold brew? Browse our selection of the best loose leaf black teas and select which looks most suited to your tastes or order the Lumo loose leaf black tea sampler to test out a number of our most sought-after black tea blends. No matter which of our artisanal loose leaf black teas you choose to indulge in, you’re in for a treat. Because, of course, half the fun of tea is in the ritual of taking a special moment for yourself or sharing a steaming cup of tea with others.