Known as red tea by the Chinese and black by Westerners, black tea is a totally oxidized tea. The oxidation process is triggered by humidity, heat and lack of oxygen and gives the leaves their dark colour and a typically complex flavour. People often talk about fermentation for black tea but it is actually oxidation. To obtain a black tea, there are a number of steps: harvesting, withering to eliminate water from the leaves, rolling to break the cells, sifting to separate the still sticky leaves, oxidation to develop the aromas, roasting to stop the oxidation process and last of all, sorting. Contrary to what might be imagined, oxidation does not cause the catechins and flavonoids to disappear from black tea. It is full of benefits and revitalising and diuretic properties!