Orthodox and CTC are the two major types of tea normally sold in the Indian market. These teas are named after their production styles. Orthodox and CTC black teas mainly differ in the following ways:
Difference in the Method of Processing
Orthodox teas are whole tea leaves produced using the traditional or the orthodox method, thus the name. The orthodox method is the rather old-fashioned way of processing tea – the leaves remain whole or slightly broken. They are plucked, withered, rolled, oxidized and dried. CTC teas are produced by the Crush, tear, curl (CTC) method which is a way of processing black tea in which the leaves are passed through a series of cylindrical rollers with several sharp teeth that help crushing, tearing and curling the tea into small, hard granules. Hence the nomenclature of this popular and widely consumed brand of tea is derived from its method of processing.
Difference in the regions they grow
Orthodox tea producing regions in India
One of the most popular contributors of whole leaf or orthodox teas in India is the district of Darjeeling. However to some extent Assam and Nilgiris are known for their whole leaf or orthodox teas. Tea plants generally have three flushes: first, second, and third also known as first, monsoon, and autumn. Darjeeling is famous for its flush teas amongst tea connoisseurs all over the world for their taste and muscatel experience. Assam is renowned worldwide for its second flush black tea which is bold and almost with a reddish tinge to the brew and a strong taste as well. Nilgiri teas are famous for its fruity flavours.
CTC producing regions in India
This particular strain of tea is very popular in India and the surrounding subcontinent, and is mostly consumed by adding milk and sugar. Assam tea gardens contribute majorly to the nationwide CTC produce throughout the year. However apart from Assam tea gardens, the Dooars in West Bengal and some gardens of South India also contribute to the nationwide CTC production.
Difference in popularity
The institution of CTC tea in India dominates over any other kind of ‘Orthodox’ tea strain amongst the masses in the Indian sub-continent. It is one of the popular varieties of tea finding wide acceptance in domestic and commercial enterprises across the entire Indian landscape. The Western audiences are usually habituated to orthodox tea and prefer to drink tea in its natural extracted form as a steeped brew.
Difference in Characteristics
Generally, CTC is a hardier kind of strain which is kind to addition of external agents like milk and sugar. CTC has a longer steeping time, brews stronger and has more of a tendency to be bitter, without adding external agents for taste. As a matter of fact it would be wrong to say CTC is steeped as it is boiled with water for the brew to emerge. Orthodox teas are of a higher quality, less likely to be bitter, and contain more subtle and multi-layered flavors than CTC teas. They have slighter steeping times because of their delicate nature and do not go well with added flavour for taste. Hence the globally renowned indigenous Indian cup of tea, the Masala Chai goes well with CTC tea as it requires to be treated at high temperatures to bring out the strong bold taste and reddish tinge of black tea and infuse it with the goodness of milk and select Indian spices. The resultant brew is pungent liquor with a strong taste leaving an indelible mark on your taste buds.