Red tea is an Asian term used for a kind of beverage which is known as black tea in the West made from the oxidized tea leaves extracted from the Camelia Sinesis plant. In black tea, the leaves are subjected to oxidation and as a result, its flavor and color also undergoes a drastic change. This hard oxidation often reduces the polyphenol content of these tea leaves. This tea form is still preferred by most of the English, Irish and American population. The black tea is usually considered to be the combination of lower grade teas from Indian subcontinent and Ceylon. The Chinese refer to this infusion as "hong cha" meaning red tea.
Several variations of this tea are relished throughout China and the Asian continent in general. The leaves are steeped in the hot boiling water to get a brilliant red color. Its flavor can be mild, robust or dominant depending on the method of production.
History of Red Teas
It is believed that the Qimen Kung Fu – a type of revered tea variation is popular since the time of Qing dynasty, who ruled China in the 1800’s. Until then the Chinese were hooked onto the green tea, but according to a popular folklore the tea was produced after an unemployed official started a tea plantation at Qimen. The official developed new cultivar varieties which produced bright red hued teas. He did all this experimentations with tea varieties only with the hope that it will elevate his reputation in the society. The tea was popularized throughout the globe by Chinese expatriates.
Popular Varieties of the Hong Cha
There are three popular varieties of this exemplary beverage, they are: Qimen Kung Fu, Small Species hong cha and Ted te bits.
- Qimen Kung Fu: Just like the wines this Chinese red tea variation is also referred according to the year in which it was produced. The tea comes in flavors of orchid, honey and many other flowers. If the mist forms on the surface of the tea then it is considered to be high quality Qime Kung Fu. The tea is much liked for its red hues.
- Ted te bits: This tea variation is also revered for its flavor and color like Qimen. It gives out another shade of attractive red hue when added to the boiling water. This variety is also available in various flavors.
- Small Species Hong Cha: This is also one of the most favored varieties of the Chinese red tea. It also gives out a distinct red color and is marked by low aroma and medium flavors.
Popular Red Tea Variations Found Across the World
- Rooibos Tea: At times this tea is also mistaken for the hong cha due to its unusual bright red color. Rooibos tea is a popular South African beverage which is extracted from the plant called Aspalanthus linearis. Many food experts debate that the rooibos tea is not at all a tea because it is not derived from the regular tea plant Camelia Sinensis.
- Karkady: This red tea from Egypt is popular throughout Arabia, derived by crushing the leaves of the plant called Hibiscus sabdariffa. In Jamaica, this tea is prepared from the dry segment of calyx and it is called roselle tea. In East Africa, this tea is known as Sudanese tea while in Spain it is called quimbombe chino. One or the other variations of this African tea is popular throughout Europe because Africa was colonized and ruled by Europeans for a long time.
Red Tea Benefits
There are myriad benefits of red tea because it is said to be laced with nutrients and antioxidants that help to curb the severity of many serious and minor diseases. The tea is supposed to be beneficial for easing headaches caused by migraine. Other than that, some of its well-known health benefits include:
- aiding in curbing severe muscle pains
- curing insomnia
- reducing the severity of heat stroke and dizziness
In many of the authentic Chinese medical texts, the tea is also projected as a powerful anti-aging drink.
The Netherlands National Institute of Public Health and Environment recently announced that red tea played an active role in reducing risks of deadly heart strokes. The flavonoids in this tea works by reducing the cholesterol that may lead to massive cardiac arrest and stroke. It was found that the drinkers who were habitual of drinking atleast 4 cups of this tea in a day were less likely to develop heart risks than the ones who enjoyed 2 or 3 cups of tea. Through various studies it was proved that this tea variation also aided in preventing tooth decay. A recent study by Tea Trade Health Research Association confirmed that drinking red tea on a daily basis may aid in reducing plaques and increase immunity against bacterial infections.