Black tea was undoubtedly born in China, likely during the latter stages of the 16th century. The area around Mount Wuyi in the Fujian province of southeast China is commonly credited as the geographical origin. Exactly how black tea was discovered is unknown. Legends speak of, as they often do, a fortunate mistake. Someone accidentally forgot to heat up the tea leaves which then began to oxidise. This development was likely linked to that of oolong tea as well in the beginning. Something that has been of assistance both in the past and today when it comes to the spread of black teas, is their export-friendly qualities. Black teas are far more durable than green teas and hence better for long transport. Surprisingly, black teas have never been particularly popular in China or Japan. At the start of the 17th century, Dutch merchants brought the first modest quantities of black tea to Europe. Black teas got their breakthrough as a Western attraction that quickly spread across the West, most notably with the aid of the East India Company.
The first black tea enthusiasts were largely Englishmen. They began by importing vast quantities from China, until they by the mid to late 19th century started their own plantations in colonised India and Sri Lanka (then Ceylon). Up until that point, China was actually the only country in the world that was producing black tea.