When it comes to black tea there are so many different cultures around celebrate tea in different ways. Over the course of many years we have had the fortune to observe many of these first hand.
One thing that has become apparent from day one is that many cultures appreciate varying levels of astringency. Astringency is the drying sensation that occurs on your palate after drinking tea. Often times depending on the origin, or improper steeping methods it becomes really easy to over extract tea and make it way too dry on the palatte.
As a result of varying levels of astringency and primary countries that tea is sourced from you start to see cultures responding to black tea in different ways.
Black Tea in England:
The British are almost always regarded as one of the highest tea consuming countries per capita as anyone in the world. Yet why is it that they almost always are seen enjoying tea with lemon and milk? Well normally their tea is being imported from countries like Sri Lanka and Southern India where the tea receives open sunlight most of the year. The more sunlight and the more catetchins which leads to more astringency.
Black Tea in China:
While Black Tea in China is super region dependent I am going to focus on the primary ways we have seen citizens enjoying tea there. For the most part the 'designer' teas for the moment are coming from Fujian. These black teas primarily have low astringency and are pretty easy to drink without milk or sugar. The mouth feel is heavy and thick. For the most part we see many people drinking tea out of gaiwan there. Steeping multiple infusions on top of eachother.
Black Tea in India
In India Black Tea is almost always taken with milk in a local form known as Chai. India is one of the biggest consumers of tea in the world, but the majority of the country's production gets exported to other countries in high demand, particularly Europe. For this reason the Indian people have added spices and milk to their tea to make it more palatable to drink.
Black Tea in the United States
Sadly the USA Tea industry is primarily consuming bottled tea beverages. USA is a culture of speed, large quantities, and convenience. For this reason most people have become accustomed to drinking tea with plenty of sugar added. In many cases this also is a result of the price driven culture in the U.S. people have been accustomed to drinking black tea with addititves as a result of getting very inexpensive commodity teas sourced from Argentina, Sri Lanka, and Kenya.