Thanks to Fernando at the Stay Club Camden who asked me this recently. The world of tea is a very confusing place and none more so when it comes to classifications. Each country is very proud of their own teas and name it in various ways - in China they refer to shape of tea or local legends "Big Red Robe" or "Iron Goddess of Mercy" whereas in India they have a very systematic grading system where you would get First Flush Darjeeling GFOP (Golden Flowery Orange Pekoe). This makes navigating the world of loose tea an interesting experience.
So what is Red Tea?
Well for Europeans this usually refers to Redbush Tea or Bush Tea which today is more commonly referred to as Rooibos. The name itself is pronounced "Roy-bos" thanks to its Dutch origin. See picture below:
As you can see this has a really vivid dark orange colour and when it brews it goes a deep red - see the cup below
As this is the world of tea everything however, is not as straightforward as you think. Rooibos is cultivated from the Aspalathus Linearis bush which only grows in the Fynbos region about 400km north of Cape Town in South Africa. This means it not related to the tea family at all as all tea varieties are from Camellia Sinesis.
For non Europeans and especially in Asia, if someones mentions "Red Tea" to you then they are probably referring to a number of fully oxidised i.e. black tea such as Yunnan Gold which is typically referred to as simply Red Tea.
So in summary when someone asks you what is Red Tea - first of all ask them where they are from - European think Rooibos, Asian think Chinese Black Tea.
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Have a lovely week