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  • #9370

    Jackie
    Keymaster
    @jackie

    PS: Perhaps also a question for @gingkoseto and @tea-author who are familiar with Chinese customs:
    I just finished reading @riccaicedo‘s interesting blog post about “Asian Tea Classifications.” If you haven’t already peeked at his blog, it’s much worth a follow. Bring it over here Ricardo (ha, I won’t give up :P) Either way, Ricardo mentioned a theory that black tea is called red tea because of an incorrect translation by the British. That was news to me. I’d read in the past that it was due to the liquid being more red than black and/or because of the red borders of the oxidized leaf. Not sure how “red” these are though. Anyway, I’m not doubting that rumor has it the Brits got it wrong. However, I’m confused now, what gives? Is the red liquid theory also rumor? Anyone know any more about this?

  • #9371

    riccaicedo
    Participant
    @riccaicedo

    Hello Jackie, thanks for reading my blog.

    I think I must have expressed myself poorly, sorry for my bad English. The Chinese had a name for the tea, which was “red tea”. For whatever reason, the British called it something else, hence they didn’t translate it correctly.

    Plus, “black tea” is the name for post-fermented tea in China, and some pu-erhs look as black or even more than what we know as black tea leaves. Doesn’t that make the English system of leaf-color naming incorrect?

    I’m not proposing/disproving any theory, just stating the fact that  the Brits got it wrong.

  • #9372

    Jackie
    Keymaster
    @jackie

    You didn’t express yourself poorly @riccaicedo – I did. You wrote that the English mistakenly called red tea black, and I should have seen that. As to your question, I’m surprised the English didn’t call Chinese red tea, white. Why? Because it is so common to add milk there 😉 On a more serious note, why not call it simply brown? And Pu’er black.

  • #9373

    Warren Peltier
    Participant
    @tea-author

    Black tea is called read tea in China because of the copper color of the brewed leaves. For some black teas this is more noticeable than others – because of production techniques. But generally, this is the defining characteristic of “red tea”. If I’m not mistaken, the English called it black tea because of the black color of the leaves.

    Generally, you will see the copper characteristic noticeable on gongfu (congou) teas – especially those that are made from tender buds, rather than whole, large leaves.

  • #9374

    riccaicedo
    Participant
    @riccaicedo

    Thanks for the clarification @tea-author I’ll pay attention to the copper color next time!

    @jackie, yes, it would have been better if the British kept using more colors to keep the tea-naming process uniform.  It’s hard for the average person to remember names like pu-erh and oolong, although tea is gaining popularity each passing day.

    I guess that when they found out that another Chinese tea was also called black tea, it was too late to do anything about it : )

  • #9376

    Xavier
    Participant
    @xavier

    The British first only had access to 2 teas: black and green (English names used here).

    I think they named them this way because of the colours of the leaves while in China, these two are named for the colour of the liquid (hence the red and green)..

  • #9377

    riccaicedo
    Participant
    @riccaicedo

    @xavier, I’m not completely sure that the Chinese named their teas based on the liquid (see @tea-author comment).

    For example, a lot of Chinese green tea liquids are quite yellow. You’ll see more green looking teas in Japan rather than in China.

    Plus, you’ll have to agree that brewed oolong isn’t exactly green either, sometimes it tends towards brown! Doesn’t that mean that the Chinese named them blue (meaning a different tone of green) based on the oxidized leaf color?

  • #9378

    Xavier
    Participant
    @xavier

    @riccaicedo I read both versions so I am unsure about which one is right.

  • #9382

    riccaicedo
    Participant
    @riccaicedo

    I agree, we’re probably missing some historical information here.

  • #9388

    Warren Peltier
    Participant
    @tea-author

    If I can recall correctly, even orange pekoe tea bags do reveal that reddish-copper color when you open them up.

    As far as oolong goes, oolong is at once a tea type (as in black, green, yellow, white, red) and a tea variety (just as dahongpao and tieguanyin are).

    青茶 Qing Cha, should perhaps best be called teal tea, since “qing” can mean indigo-blue, dark-green, teal, or even black. Lightly roasted oolong teas are visibly green, but even for heavily roasted oolong teas, before roasting, they are green, the leaves getting darker depending on number of roastings.

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