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Oct 5, 2009 05:11 PM

"Red" tea? - what is it exactly?

In exploring the SGV, I've had "red tea" to drink, either plain or mixed with other fruit flavors. I especially like the Plum red tea. But, what is "red" tea? Someone told me it's simply the same as "black" tea, but it sure doesn't taste anything like it.

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  1. Do you mean Rooibos Tea from South Africa? It is not really a tea as it is not from the Camellia Sinensis plant but rather a bush. I'm a tea freak so I like real tea but if you are looking for a caffeine free infusion, you might like it:

    Camellia sinensis

    More here:

    2 Replies
    1. re: SilverlakeGirl

      If it turns out that Rooibos tea is what JThur01 is referring to, and since we are on the LA Boards, I suggest that JThur01 check out the extensive selection of Rooibos teas at Teavana. This tea shop has several locations around.

      1. re: liu

        And one of my favorite suppliers, Upton Tea with Rooibos and HoneyBush:

    2. Red tea is just what Asians call black tea. If you look at the actual color of the tea, the Asian description is more accurate, IMO!

      1. I don't know what SGV is... Hibiscus tea is red.

        2 Replies
          1. re: monku

            Yes, San Gabriel Valley. The Chinese and Taiwanese restaurants. What perplexed me is that the menus have both Red and Black Tea - listed separately. Can anyone offer an explanation as to why both are listed separately?

        1. There are certain styles of Chinese oolong teas that are called red teas, and their leaves do tend to have a reddish colour (similar to the colour of the non-tippy leaves in Oriental Beauty).

          5 Replies
          1. re: limster

            Limster...I happen to really love the oolong...I try to drink green tea each day--health benefits, etc. but "my heart belongs to oolong." <snerk> ANYWAY...which styles of oolong are you talking about , please? Can you elaborate? Or recommend a certain brand? Thanks!

            1. re: Val

              Oriental beauty might fall into that category, as would certain teas that are literally called red tea/hong2 cha2. Problem is, I'm not sure of the original Chinese names (had some from from Yunnan and Taiwan), as I've had them from tea places here in London, which translate them differently. Unfortunately, I don't really have a specific brand to recommend, since I drink teas at shops that source the leaves directly from the tea makers. Jing1 Yu2 Xuan2, a Yunnan tea maker makes a very good red tea, but they're best known for their Golden Damo pu-erh tea.

              BTW were you asking about red oolongs in particular or oolongs in general?

              1. re: limster

                Either only familiar with oolongs in general but would love to try some red oolong...we do have 2 Asian markets here in Naples, FL...that's where I purchase my regular black oolong from, drat! Can't remember the brand, I keep the box at work...oh, well...please name some brands...I might be able to find them here! Thanks!

                1. re: Val

                  Sorry, I wish I could recommend a couple of brands, but most of the teas that I've been drinking don't really have a brand since they were sourced directly from the grower.

                  I could suggest types of tea, and a personal favourite is Tieguanyin, a Fujian tea that can come in several styles, including darkly roasted versions, which may resonate with your preferences for black oolongs. Tieguanyin, in particular from Anxi, can also be made with very light oxidation -- these versions are green-ish, usually have a somewhat crisp acidity and a buttery flavour that mingles with its rather characteristic floral aroma.

                  Oriental Beauty the aphid-bitten tea that HLing describes below is definitely worth seeking out, and will often exude a rather complex perfume.

                  The Phoenix mountain oolongs from Canton are also a delight, with the better ones coming in "single bush" varieties. These are often lightly roasted, and the leaves typically are dark olive in colour with a thin trace of brown at the edge (once they've fully opened after a few infusions). Over the base of the lightly roasted tea, flavours do vary from one "single bush" to another. Fruity or nutty flavours like lychee or peach/apricot or almonds with varying intensity are common. I was told that it was teas like these and the famous Scarlet Robe from Fujian that gave rise to the idea of blending teas with fruit or flowers, in order to replicate these more complex natural flavours in less expensive teas.

                  1. re: limster

                    Oh yes, how could i forget the Phoenix mountain oolongs! I've only been introduced to it in the last few years but have found them to be good both hot and cold. The less expensive ones (Mandarin Orchid, Honey Orchid, along that line of names) make excellent ice teas without needing any artificial flavoring. The more pricey ones can sometimes be full-bodied and very complex in flavors that I'm sure wine tasters would have a field day with them.

          2. As a Chinese person, when i hear of Red Tea I think of the Sri Lankan Ceylon tea, the Indian Assam, and Darjeeling, and along that line, the Chinese "Oriental Beauty", which is similar to Darjeeling in that it's leaves that's been bruised or bitten by bugs and as a result secretes something extra for self heal..., and the Chinese Keemun Red Tea.

            I think it's confusing that the Britsh called some of these Black tea, but the Chinese consider black tea the ones that are fermented a bit more than the red tea, like for example the kind of Pu-erh tea that's packed into bricks and can be allowed to age, and actually get better with age. There is also in Taiwanese tea a trend for aging more heavily fermented tea. Also, there are the tea that are fermented and smoked with different types of woods...none of these method would be for green and red tea (in the Chinese sense).

            Edit: by the way, the plum red tea you like might be the Jiu Qu Red Plum Tea from Hangzhou province. (红茶有杭州的九曲红梅)。 I haven't had it, but the dried tea leaves are described as being dark in color, small in the shape of fish hooks. I'm getting an image of the hijiki look-alike.
            See if this help get you somewhere.