Loose Leaf Black Tea

Loose Leaf Black Tea

At Rare Tea Company our aim is to source and supply the very best black tea in the UK and, indeed, around the world...

Since 2004 Henrietta Lovell, our founder and master blender has travelled the globe to find the finest loose leaf black tea that both tastes amazing and is sustainably grown, without pesticides and herbicides. In this way, we can ensure it is not only good for the environment but that our black tea is good for you too.

Many people think that black tea is just "normal tea". Our loose leaf black tea is made from only the best leaves, hand-picked and crafted by highly skilled men and women, for a sublime taste. Black tea is as diverse in terroir and flavour as red wine and we seek out only the best. Read more

Types of loose black tea

Our range of black tea includes single harvests from our partner farms alongside English Breakfast blends and smoked teas.

We don't have any teas with added flavourings, natural or artificial. We prefer flavoured teas to be entirely natural and not created in a laboratory. We do add natural bergamot oil to our Earl Grey and herbs and spices to create Masala Chai.

We source our black tea directly from farmers in India, China, Sri Lanka, Malawi, Nepal, Japan and New Zealand. You will find some of the most famous or well-known teas such as Darjeeling in our collection of loose black teas, but not others, such as Assam tea. This is because we only work with the best tea gardens - sourcing tea for quality and flavour rather than just to tick a box. We haven't managed to find the best quality organic tea that nurtures the precious habitat and the people who live and work on it as yet, but we're ever searching. If you usually buy Assam tea, perhaps try a delicious malty black tea from Satemwa like Lost Malawi English Breakfast tea which is made from the assamica varietal.

The best way to explore our range of black teas is with our Black Tea Subscription Box - subscriptions are a great way to try different teas each month or make sure you get a regular delivery of your favourites, so you never run out! They also make great gifts.

Black tea leaves

Black tea leaves are fully oxidized which increases the level of tannins, giving a higher astringency than other tea varieties. The primary flavonoids are theaflavins and thearubigins. All our black tea leaves are painstakingly crafted to be beautifully balanced. They can be enjoyed on their own without any additions. If you enjoy your tea with milk please choose from this collection.

Can the flavour of loose black tea change over time?

Black tea can change in flavour over time, especially if it is not correctly stored. All loose leaf tea should be stored in an airtight container and away from direct sources of light. It is most important to keep your tea away from moisture. As soon as your black loose leaves are exposed to moisture they will begin to oxidise. Oxidisation will change the flavour and colour of the tea.

We recommend drinking your loose leaf black tea within three months of opening the pouch for the freshest tea. After this time the tea may start to lose some of its aroma but will still be plenty delicious. If you have an unopened pouch of tea it could last indefinitely!

Higher quality tea leaves (stored properly) can maintain their flavour for longer than low quality teas which may have been sitting around in a dusty warehouse for years.

Just like wine, some teas can improve with age. Pu'er tea is traditionally a slow fermentation of a partly oxidised "dark" tea that can take decades to reach maturity. Some very old and valuable Puer teas date back hundreds of years - although it may be that these are worth more money because of their age than their flavour.

Do you recommend these teas with milk and sugar?

Drinking tea with milk and/or sugar is very much up to personal preference. You should make your tea in the way that brings you the most pleasure.

The infusion instructions on individual tea pages will note whether we think a tea is best drunk black or with milk. We usually recommend trying your loose leaf black tea without milk at first so that you can appreciate all the flavours and nuances of the leaf but feel free to add milk after if you prefer! If you usually like to add sugar to your tea we recommend trying Emperor's Breakfast (a Chinese black tea) because it is naturally very sweet so you might find there's no need for sugar!

With some industrial big-brand tea bags you have to add milk to make them palatable, but that is not true of our exquisite loose leaf teas.

If you like your tea with milk -whether full fat cow's milk or a dairy-free alternative - we have created a collection of teas that we think go well with milk here.

Does black tea contain caffeine?

All black tea does contain caffeine unless it has undergone a decaffeination process. We don't offer decaf tea because the industrial processes use chemicals and strip some of the flavour from the tea. All tea - white tea, green tea, oolong - naturally contains caffeine because the plant that is made from, camellia sinensis, contains caffeine. If you would like to cut down on your caffeine intake we recommend our range of herbal infusions which are naturally caffeine-free.

Please consider that cold-infused teas are particularly caffeinated because of the long extraction.

How to brew black tea

If you would like to learn how to make the perfect cup of black tea, we recommend watching our short video here. Making the perfect cup of tea requires the correct ratios of tea and water, water at the right temperature, and the correct length of infusion. Each tea product page contains our suggestions for these volumes, temperatures and times but they are only a guide - how you like your tea is up to you so please feel free to experiment!

Unless you're drinking a really strong Speedy Breakfast, which will give up everything in it's first extraction (in an utterly delicious way) do be sure to reuse your tea leaves though for a second (maybe even third) infusion. Each time you infuse the tea leaves, different subtleties and flavours will be released.

If you are new to loose leaf tea, you may also want a teapot or tea infuser. You can explore our range of teaware for loose leaf tea here.

Benefits of black tea

We are often asked, "what are the health benefits of drinking tea?". Although we are not doctors or scientists, we do know that tea is rich in polyphenols which are a type of antioxidant (which help the body remove free radicals that can result in inflammation and diseases) and some teas contain minerals including potassium, calcium and iron. To better understand what impact antioxidants and other components found in tea have on your body though, we would suggest speaking to someone with a better understanding of the science. The last thing we want to do is health-wash but there's a lot of great research out there by real scientists.

The greatest benefit of tea is that it makes you feel good. Tea is a source of the amino acid L-theanine, which is linked to mood enhancement.

And when it tastes AMAZING, it makes you feel even better!