Notes of cinnamon, maraschino cherry, and mint.
Red tea from Taiwan・July 2016・紅玉，十八號・Organic
Eighteen, aka Red Jade, is the 18th cultivar developed by Taiwan’s Tea Research & Extension Station (TRES), an organization dedicated to research and development of tea and new tea cultivars. TRES has developed twenty one original cultivars through hybridization. Each cultivar harmonizes the hybrid’s component qualities vis-à-vis Taiwan’s unique terroir.
Released in 1999, Eighteen is a hybrid of a native Taiwanese wild cultivar and a Burmese large leaf Assamica. The Assamica, known for its deep and intense flavor, was imported by the Japanese colonial administration in the 1900s in an effort to build an export tea market in Taiwan. The Taiwanese cultivar was first mentioned during the Qing Dynasty and was historically used only for oolong teas. It is from this cultivar that Eighteen gets its floral aromatics and sweetness.
Eighteen’s release singlehandedly revived the Taiwanese red tea market that was until that point seeing steady decline. Today there are many producers of Eighteen – and Sun Moon Lake is now known as a tea production region as well as a scenic area. However, most gardens are lower level, producing tea with a cloudy semi-opaque brew. Our Eighteen comes from a garden at 600 meters above sea level, one of the highest points in Yuchi. This garden produces some of the cleanest and most complex red teas we have ever come across.
Eighteen is harvested from early spring to mid-summer. A summer harvest ensures that the tea has been bitten by leaf hoppers, which produces complex honeyed notes. Often, summer teas are used to improve the character of earlier season leaves. Our Eighteen is a pure, unblended summer tea. We also released this tea a year after production, giving the tea time to develop texture and sweetness.
The brewed liquor is equally beautiful and transparent with a vermillion tint - never cloudy, which can be a sign that oxidation has been accelerated through sun withering.
Brew: 5 grams・150 ml・205° F・1 min
We believe the mint and fruit notes of this tea are its best expression. While its assamica heritage does allow this tea to brew with some amount of punchiness, a light, sweet brew brings out its most interesting character and complexity.