Chinese Dark Tea (Types and Benefits)

Dark tea (黑茶, Hēi Chá) is one of the six types of Chinese tea. Dark tea is a kind of post-fermented tea. It is often piled up and fermented for a long time in the processing, so the tea leaves are black or dark brown. This is why it is called Dark tea.

It is mainly produced in Yunnan, Guangxi, Anhui, Sichuan, Hubei, and Hunan Province. Dark tea has a long history of production. The name “Hei Cha” was first appeared in 1524.

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Characteristics of Chinese Dark Tea

Pile-fermentation is a key process for processing dark tea. With the degree of the pile-fermentation, the color of the tea leaves will change from green to yellow, chestnut red, and or black.

The shape of dark tea is various, such as loose tea, cake-shaped tea, bowl-shaped tea, heart-shaped tea, brick-shaped, etc.

The color of dried dark tea is mostly black with yellow or brown. Some dark tea can grow a kind of beneficial bacteria called “Golden Flower”, such as Fu Zhuan tea and Liu Bao tea.

After brewing, the color of its tea liquid is red, amber red, or brown. The fragrance of dark tea includes smoking pine fragrance, aged fragrance, flower fragrance, fungus fragrance, etc. The taste of it is mellow, aged, and has a sweet aftertaste.

In China, dark tea is a necessity for the daily life of ethnic minorities such as Tibetans, Mongolians, and Uygurs. They have a proverb that they would rather have no food for three days than dark tea for one day.

Types of Chinese Dark Tea

According to producing area, Chinese dark tea can be classified into five main types.

Yunnan Dark Tea

Pu-Erh Tea

Pu-erh tea is made from the fresh tea leaves of a special tea tree that is mainly growing in Yunnan Province. It is the most famous tea in Yunnan Province and is world-famous.

The traditional Pu-erh tea belongs to dark tea. With the development of Pu-erh tea, there are many new kinds of Pu-erh tea, such as Pu-erh green tea, Pu-erh black tea, Pu-erh oolong tea, etc. So today, many people consider Pu-erh tea is a special category of Chinese tea due to its popularity and variety.

Yunnan Tuo Tea

Yunnan Tuo tea is produced in the Dali City of Yunnan Province. It was first created in 1917. The shape of it is like a bowl, so it is also called Yunnan bowl tea.

Qizi Bing Cha

Qizi Bing Cha literally called Seven Sons Cake tea is produced in Xishuangbanna of Yunnan Province. The shape of it is like a round cake. The local people often pack every seven pieces together, so it is called “Seven Sons”.

Hunan Dark Tea

Hunan dark tea is mainly produced in Anhua County in the Yiyang City of Hunan Province, so it is usually called Anhua dark tea. It was first created in 1524.

Anhua dark tea has many types, mainly including Fu Zhuan tea, Hei Zhuan tea, Hua Zhuan tea, Qian Liang tea, and San Jian tea.

Hunan dark tea is a national geographical indication product of China and its processing technology was listed in the national intangible cultural heritage protection list in 2008.

Guangxi Dark Tea

The most famous tea of Guangxi dark tea is Liu Bao tea. Liu Bao tea literally called Six Forts tea is produced in Liu Bao Town, Guangxi Province. It is a National Geographic Indicator Product of China.

Liu Bao tea has the taste of pine smoke and areca nut. “Red, thick, mellow, and aged” is the obvious characteristic of Liu Bao tea.

Sichuan Dark Tea

Sichuan dark tea also called Zang Cha (Tibetan tea) is originated in the Ya’an City of Sichuan Province.

Zang Cha has been a thousand-year-old tea since it was created in the Tang Dynasty (618-907). The processing of Zang Cha is extremely complex and made using 32 ancient methods.

Since ancient times, Zang Cha has been sold to Tibetan communities in the west of Ya’an. It is a necessity of Tibetan life, so it is called Zang Cha. Zang means “Tibetan”.

Hubei Dark Tea

Hubei dark tea also called Lao Qing Cha is produced in Hubei Province. The shape of it is like brick, so it is also called Qing Brick tea.

In the 18th century, it was mainly exported to Europe. The more aged the tea, the more valuable it is.

Benefits of Chinese Dark Tea

Dark tea is rich in nutrients, mainly including vitamins, trace elements, protein, amino acid, carbohydrates, etc.

For the residents of Northwest China who mainly eat beef, mutton, and cheese, long-time drinking dark tea can supply essential trace elements and various vitamins. So in ancient times, many kinds of dark tea were sold to Northwest China. They call dark tea “The Tea of Life”.

Benefits of Chinese dark tea:

  • Detox
  • Diuretic
  • Anti-aging
  • Anti-cancer
  • Weight loss
  • Antibacterial
  • Help digestion
  • Nourish stomach
  • Anti-inflammatory
  • Lower blood sugar
  • Lower blood lipids
  • Lower blood pressure

How to Make Chinese Dark Tea

  • Tea set: purple clay teapot is the best.
  • The ratio of tea leaves to water: 1:20-30. For example, 5g of dark tea leaves require 100-150ml of water.
  • The temperature of the water: 100℃.