Black Tea Blends Ranked By Which Is Strongest

Black tea is the most consumed tea in the world, and for good reason. Generally stronger than than green and white tea, black tea serves as a energy boost for those aren’t too taken with coffee.

The most popular black teas come from India, Sri Lanka and China, but there are a few other countries now making the stuff, including England, the US and Australia. It’s also very popular in African countries. 

Although most black teas are stronger than other types of teas, the specific black teas, such as Darjeeling and Keemun, can sometimes wildly vary on caffeine content. It’s not uncommon for some black teas to match the caffeine levels of a regular cup of coffee. 

Below is a list of the strongest black teas you’ll find on the market. 

15. Dianhong 

Dianhong tea, or Dian Lake red tea, is a gourmet black tea grown in Yunnan Province, China. What makes this tea a bit more fancy than other black teas is the amount of fine leaf buds in the dried tea. Dianhong is also a lot younger than other teas, having only began production in the early 20th century. It contains about 25 milligrams of caffeine, making it one of the weaker black teas. 

Usually plucked in early spring, Dianhong produces a bright red colour and boasts a sweet, floral taste with tones of honey roasted nuts. The leaves are reddish brown after the brewing process. Cheaper versions of Dianhong can be more brownish in colour and bitter to taste. 

14. Lychee 

Chinese lychee tea is probably the most famous scented black tea in the world. It is created, it should go without saying, by mixing black tea leaves with lychee until their infused with each other’s aroma. Normally, produced in Guangdong, lychee is perfect for making iced tea in particular. 

Lychee black tea contains all the natural caffeine found in the Camellia Sinensis family. A cup of this tropical tea will typically contain between 27 and 35 milligrams of caffeine having been steeped in boiling water for five minutes. 

13. Nilgiri

Grown near Mysore at an altitude of about 4000 ft, Nilgiri is known as a fragrant black tea with a fuller, rounder flavour. When brewed, Nilgiri gives off a bright amber hue. Though there aren’t any strong notes of astringency, it is known to have a nutty and spicy aftertaste. It contains about 40 milligrams of caffeine per cup. 

Production of this black tea began in the Nilgiri region during British rule of India in 1835. Today, smaller local growers produce most Nilgiri tea. Bigger plantations a part of the Nilgiri Planters Association, produce around 30% of this tea.

12. Alishan

Alishan or Ali Mountain tea is an oolong tea grown high up in the mountains of central Taiwan. Known for protecting the heart and vessels, the mix of caffeine and antioxidants can accelerate metabolism, boosting your cardiovascular health. There are 40 milligrams of caffeine in a cup of Alishan. 

As with all great teas, the higher it’s grown the better. Alishan tea is grown between 1000 and 2300 meters of altitude. Your everyday standard cup of Alishan tea has an orchid aroma and a surprisingly smooth and soothing sweet taste. 

11. Keemun

Grown in the southern region of the Anhui Province of China, Keemun is a black tea also known as qimen hongcha. Keemun is consumed both alone and as a base for tea blends. The taste is often smoky and malty with a low astringency, and sometimes compared to cocoa. A cup of this will contain about 45 milligrams of caffeine. 

The production of Keemun came about in 1875 when a tea cultivator in Anhui Province, Yu Ganchen, wanted to bring black tea to the area, which was only producing green teas at the time. It was Ganchen who made the first keemun tea using his knowledge of brewing in the Fujian Province. 

10. Orange Pekoe

Orange Pekoe is not orange, nor does it taste like oranges. It’s part of a classification system for black tea, based on the origin and size of the leaves, therefore making it a grade of black tea. It contains around 45 milligrams of caffeine making it a reasonably buzzy tea. 

The name is rumoured to have come from the 17th-century Dutch East India Company. The Dutch royal family belonged to the House of Orange. The story goes that the Dutch East India Company brought teas to Europe, and set aside the best black teas for the royals. When the public finally got their hands on these black teas, they nicknamed it the orange pekoe for its association with Dutch royalty. 

9. Golden Monkey

Golden Monkey is a Chinese black tea that gets its quirky name from the way the tea leaves resemble monkey paws. Unlike the majority of Chinese teas, which are as old as the country itself, Golden Monkey was only recently developed for export in the last couple of decades. It originates from Fujian, one of the country’s most famous tea-producing regions. Containing the antioxidant quercetin, this tea can lower the risk of tumor development and heart failure. The magnesium also promotes healthy bones!

The flavour profile of Golden Monkey is made up of light, honeyed peach notes, without any astringency or bitterness. It contains a reasonable amount of caffeine, around 45 milligrams per cup, which is enough to perk you up in a pinch!

8. Ceylon

Cultivated in Sri Lanka using leaves from the Camellia sinensis plant, Ceylon is one of the more well known teas in the world can be made in a variety of ways, although black is the most popular. Ceylon’s taste depends like most on the height at which it’s grown. Higher elevation black teas are lighter in colour while lower elevation teas tend to be reddish orange and be bolder in taste. The average caffeine level of Ceylon, however, is around 50 milligrams. 

Ceylon black tea does also contain l-theanine, an amino acid that slows down the absorption of caffeine, which means you’ll have a much longer energy boost and avoid a case of the shakes and crashes usually associated with the stimulant. 

7. Chai

Known for its distinct texture, chai is an Indian tea made from various other black teas and ‘masala’ spices like ginger, cinnamon, cardamom, and cloves. The herbs themselves are caffeine free but the accumulative black tea leaves will have around 50 milligrams. 

Of course, there are other benefits to this spicy brew besides caffeine. Chai can help boost heart health, reduce blood sugar levels, aid digestion, and weight loss. Though bear in mind these benefits mostly come from the ingredients put into the tea, rather than the tea itself!

6. English breakfast tea

English breakfast tea is made from a blend of leaves mostly cultivated in Sri Lanka, Kenya and India. Normally consumed with a drop of milk and a spoonful of sugar, it has become an extremely popular option first thing on a morning. Containing 50 milligrams of caffeine, it works well as a coffee substitute. 

The bold flavour of English breakfast tea is also quite similar to coffee in taste, with mostly roasted notes. Full bodied and mildly bitter, this is a robust choice for the tea lovers among you looking for a decent kick in the morning. 

5. Lapsang souchong

A tea unto its own, Lapsang Souchong has earned itself the nickname, the ‘liquor of the tea world’ thanks to its hints of whiskey, tobacco and smoke. These unorthodox flavours make it one of the most interesting black teas in the world. Containing 60 milligrams of coffee, it’s also one of the strongest. 

Cultivated in the Wuyi Mountains in the Fujian province of China, it’s called Zheng Shan Xiao Zhong in Chinese. Experts believe this tea goes back further than Keemun. The process of its production was a secret for centuries before the world caught on to the allure of this non-traditional brew.

4. Russian Caravan

Russian Caravan, one of the best-named teas of all time, has a unique smoky flavour. The blend was originally made with different Chinese teas but today it’s likely to contain teas from other countries too. The caffeine content in Russian Caravan tea ranges from moderate to high, between 20 and 60 milligrams per cup. 

You’ll find Russian Caravan tea in many shops, physical and online, and in tea bags and loose-leaf form. If you want to make it from scratch, simply make a blend of Chinese Keemun tea and Lapsang Souchong. Oolong tea could also be added if you so wish.

3. Rize

Produced in the Rize Province of Turkey, they go nuts for this stuff over in Istanbul where it is served in cafes in narrow, tiny, gold-rimmed, narrow-waisted glasses. The colour of Rize is usually a shade of mahogany. This is on the stronger side caffeine-wise, containing around 71 milligrams per cup. 

Rize is located on the eastern Black Sea coast of Turkey. The climate is humid and mild but very wet, making it the perfect weather for a cup of tea. Rize tea was introduced to the area in the 1940s and is now popular all over the country. Did you know Turkey is the largest consumer of tea? Not Britain, not China. Turkey! Apparently, each Turk consumes approximately 1,300 cups (3.16kg) of tea annually.

2. Assam

Assam is the second strongest black tea on the market. Grown in the north-eastern Indian state of Assam, one of the largest producers of tea in the world, this black tea is popular as a breakfast tea given its high caffeine content. One cup will contain around 80 milligrams. 

The taste of Assam tea is described of malty and rich, with a savoury smell. Research has suggested that certain compounds in teas like Assam, theaflavins for example, may be used to treat people with degenerative brain illnesses. So buying yourself some Assam is a win-win!

1. Darjeeling

Cultivated in the Darjeeling district of West Bengal, India, Darjeeling tea is one of the most famous black teas in the world. While most Indian teas are made using the Camellia sinensi var. assamica plant, Darjeeling is made using the Camellia sinensis, var. sinensis — the difference being the smaller leaves on the bush and the stronger aroma. 

Known as the champagne of tea, Darjeeling offers a strong astringency thanks to its tannins and sweet and spicy taste. The strongest of the black teas, any given cup of Darjeeling tea can contain up to 120 milligrams of caffeine which is the same, if not a little bit more, than your average cup of coffee.

Josh Teal

Josh Teal is a freelance writer with wit and verve, powered by copious amounts of tea and coffee. That makes him something of an expert in all things brewing, whether it's for you or for your pets!

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