Chinese Dark Tea

Dark Tea is one of the six tea categories in China with a history of over four hundred years, which only exists in China and is an indispensable beverage for the Chinese ethnic minorities in their everyday life. For people who like delicate green tea, it is hard to get used to the strong and unique taste of Dark tea  at once while if they stick to drinking it, they would fall in love with the unique mellow flavor of dark tea. Unlike most types of Chinese Tea that's taste and aroma fade with age, Dark Tea actually improves with age, making it a favorite with collectors and investors. Commonly misinterpreted as "Black Tea", this type of tea is completely different from English black tea.

Varieties of Dark Tea

According to the producing areas and production process, it can be divided into Hunan Dark Tea,Hubei Dark Tea, Sichuan Route Tea, Diangui Dark Tea and etc.

Pu-erh Tea普洱茶

Pu'er, Pu-erh, Puer, Po Lei or Bolay is a variety of post-fermented tea produced in Yunnan province, China. Post-fermentation is a tea production style in which the tealeaves undergo a microbial fermentation process after they are dried and rolled. This is a Chinese specialty and is sometimes referred to as dark tea. There are a few different provinces each with a few regions producing dark teas of different varieties. Those produced in Yunnan are generally named Pu'er, referring to the name of Pu'er county which used to be a trading post for dark tea during imperial China

Hunan Dark Tea 湖南黑茶

Dark tea was one of the main kinds of tea in “Tea-horse Exchange”. It also called “Official Tea” which means that this tea was controlled by the government in order to exchange horses with the minorities at that time.
Ming Dynasty government thought that Hunan dark tea with large yield, strong and stimulating taste was more suitable for the minorities to drink with cream cheese in it, so they made the tea produced in Anhua county of Hunan as “official Tea “.It was carried to the areas of Xianyang and Jingling of Shanxi province and made into “Jingling Brick Tea”, because produce in summer, so that named “Fu brick tea”.

Liu Bao Tea 六堡茶

The origin of this tea is from Liubao, in the Canggu county, Guangxi province, China. The tea got its name as Guangxi Liubao.
Limbo tea falls within the same category as Pu-erh, for it is fermented longer than Oolong but less than black. The raw tea leaves harvested in the region are piled up, and exposed to a high degree of humidity for a certain period of time until the desired level of fermentation is achieved. Water is sprayed on occasionally to keep the environment constantly humid and the pile is covered by blankets. Such a humid and warm temperature condition controlled humanly accelerates the fermentation of the tea, known as 'wo due' in Chinese. It is interesting to know all modern cooked Pu-erh teas are made in the same way.

Sichuan Dark Tea四川黑茶

also named Sichuan Route Tea (四川边茶) including Southern route tea(南路边茶)and Western route tea(西路边茶);: Of dark, brown color with an oily aroma, bright red liquor and thick taste.

Hubei Dark Tea 湖北黑茶:Qing Zhuang Brick

How to Make a Good Cup of Tea --- Brewing Dark Tea

The dark tea has a bard texture. To fully dissolve the nutrients in the tea leaves, teapot brewing is usually adopted and the fresh boiling water is used. The tea leaves applied should occupy three and four tenth of the teapot volume. In addition, the loose dark tea can be brewed with a tureen. In that case, five to eight gram of tea leaves are applied.

Tea ceremony for the Dark Tea ---for baked pu-erh tea.

1,Taking water

Take water with a teapot. Running water is the best for brewing pu-erh tea. It can better display the aged charm of pu-erh tea.

2,Warming up the teapot:Baked the teapot with soft fire.

3,Tea appreciationPut the loose tea in the lotus-shaped tea container for appreciation.

4,Baking the tea

Put the teapot containing the tea leaves on the stove for baking.

5,Water pouring

Pour water from a high position to fill the teapot. Scrape away the foam on the surface with the teapot lid.

6,Cooking the teaBaked the teapot again on the stove

Health Benefits of Dark Tea

Since ancient times, it has a tradition of tea treatment. It is recorded in ancient medicine book that people used aged tea to treat diabetes, dysentery and colds. According to the modern medical science tea polyphenols, tea polysaccharide, tea saponin, amino acid, alkaloids and inorganic elements have health benefits on human beings. Tea is a special drinking which enhances human immunity and resists oxidation and aging, prevents cancellation, lowers blood fat and regulates the metabolism

Supplementing dietary nutritionDark tea contains abundant nutritional elements including vitamins, mineral substances, protein, amino acid, saccharides and so on. Dark tea is an important source for absorbing mineral substances and vitamins for the northwestern inhabitants who mainly live on beef, mutton and dairy and lack in taking in enough vegetables and fruit. Thus dark tea is called “tea of life”.

Aiding digestion, solving grease, cleaning up intestines and stomach

The caffeine, vitamin, amino acid and phospholipids in dark tea are helpful in digestion, regulating fat metabolism, stimulating gastric juice secretion and increasing appetite. Japanese scholars’ scientific research shows that dark tea has strong functions in cutting grease and digesting. This is the reason why the carnivorous nationalities particularly like this kind of tea. The minorities in Northwest of China live mainly on beef, mutton and cheese. It is said that they would rather live without food than live without dark tea. The dark tea is vital for them because it has the effect of solving grease. Besides, dark tea can improve the microorganism environment of intestines and stomach and clean up intestines and stomach. In China, people keep the tradition to utilize dark tea to cure dysentery and indigestion.

Reducing fat, reducing weight, softening vessel and preventing CVD

Dark tea has excellent functions in lowering blood lipid, resisting blood clotting, promoting fibrinogen dissolution, inhibiting platelet aggregation , loosening vascular wall, increasing effective diameter of vessel, inhibiting the formation of atheromatous plaque in internal wall of aorta and coronary artery and achieve the goal of lowering blood pressure, softening vessel and preventing and curing of cardiovascular diseases.  An epidemiological survey shows that people who live in the northwest such as Xinjiang, Inner Mongolia and Qinghai keep the habit of drinking dark tea and benefit from dark tea for its outstanding functions in regulating blood fat, blood sugar, blood pressure and vascular sclerosis and controlling of body weight and shaping figure. 

Anti-oxidation, anti-aging, prolonging life

The theory on the relation between free radical and aging says that under normal physiological conditions, the free radicals in the human body constantly generates and are constantly eliminated and then keep its balance. Dark tea contains not only abundant anti-oxidation substances such as catechin, tea pigment, falconoid, vitamin C, E and D, carotene etc., but also plentiful anti-oxidation trace elements such as zinc, manganese, copper and selenium. The catechin, tea pigment, theanine and tea polysaccharide especially the plentiful complex flavonoid in dark tea have the function of eliminating free radicals, thus dark tea does well in anti-oxidation and anti-aging.

Anti-cancer and anti-mutation

Cancer is one of the deadly diseases of the world.Since the late 1970s, scientists from various countries have successively found that teas or tea extracts have the function of inhibiting various cancers. Hunan Agricultural University has adopted cutting-edge high throughput screening technology to carry out the research on cancer cell model SGC7901 proving that dark tea has obvious function in inhibiting tumor cells. 

Reducing blood pressure

It has been reported that tea has function of reducing blood pressure. Recently, it is reported in Japan that theanine, a type of amino acid that is contained in tea can restrain the rise of blood pressure through activating dopaminergic neuron. In addition, it is found that caffeine and catechin in dark tea can soften vessel and diastole vessel to realize blood pressure reduction. Some authoritative experts found that tea pigment has outstanding functions in anti-coagulation, promoting fibrinolysis, preventing platelet from cling and gathering, restraining HASMC hyperplasia, and also has effective function in reducing triglyceride and LDL, heightening HDL and inhibiting ACE to realize blood pressure reduction.

Improving saccharometabolism, reducing blood sugar, preventing and curing diabetes 

The tea polysaccharide contained in dark tea is the major element that can reduce blood sugar. The tea polysaccharide is a mixture of the same type of complex and changeable elements. The test result on tea polysaccharide content of several kinds of tea shows that tea polysaccharide content of dark tea is the highest and its components’ activity is the strongest, because of the formation of comparatively short sugar chain and peptide chain which is easier to be absorbed and has stronger activity than short peptide chain through the action of glycosides, protease and hydrolase contained in fermented tea. This is one of the reasons why the fermented teas especially dark tea has a better effect of lowering blood sugar than other teas.

Sterilization and reducing inflammation       

The major components of dark tea water are theaflavin and thearubigins. The research shows that theaflavin does not only act as an effective free radical scavenging agent and anti-oxidant, but also has effective anti-bacterial action against clostridium botulinum, intestine bacillus, staphylococcus aureus, bacillus capsulated and bacillus cereus. In addition, theaflavin has certain inhibiting effect against influenza virus, rotavirus virus and enter virus.

Diuresis, detoxication and reducing the harm made by tobacco and liquor   

The diuretic function of Caffeine in dark tea is realized by boosting the leaching rates of water from urine through the kidney. Meanwhile, caffeine can not only stimulate the bladder and help urine, but also helps sober up and resolve toxins in tobacco and liquor. Moreover, tea polyphenols in dark tea helps the precipitation of nicotine and it can eliminate the free radicals contained in the smoke and reduce the toxic effects of smoke on the human body. Drinking dark tea can alleviate toxic effects of heavy metals as tea polyphenols has a strong adsorption function.