On September 12th of 2013, my journey through the world of tea tasting had me return to Sun Moon Lake in Yuchi Township, Nantou County, Taiwan. This sample was provided by Easy Tea Hard Choice Co. Ltd.
This particular artisanal black tea was produced by Dong Feng Black Tea in Nantou, Taiwan. The cultivar that produces the leaves for this tea is known as TTES18, and was developed by the Taiwan Tea Experimental Station (TTES). This cultivar is a hybrid between the local Taiwan mountain tea bush and the big leaf varietal from Myanmar.
Let the journey begin…
The dry leaves of this Red Jade black tea are long and wiry, having been obviously hand twisted. There is very little breakage in this generous sample packet. The dry leaves have a sweet aroma reminiscent of light citrus and light mint, almost similar to the aroma of the grapefruit mint. There is also a note of spice, which I was not able to determine at the time. The color of the leaves are a cloudy black, with areas of dark green and brown, and a few tips of red. These leaves, just like the other Taiwan artisanal black tea (Red Rhythm), are unusually long, giving it an immediately unique character.
For this sampling, I used 24 ounces (710 ml) of water heated to 200ºF (93.3ºC), and about 10 grams of tea leaves. Infusion time for the first infusion was 2 minutes. I added 15 seconds to the second infusion, and 30 seconds to the third infusion.
This first infusion had scents of light citrus, mint, and a light spiciness. The color was a bright reddish orange, clear and transparent. The taste was a very nice blend of grapefruit mint, and a light spice, with just a slight bitterness that helped balance the flavor. The body was medium. The aftertaste was sweet, and lasted for about 10 to 15 seconds. Although I do not think this Red Jade was as good as the Red Rhythm, this is still an excellent black tea, and I would prefer it to the majority of other black teas that I have had.
The second infusion produced a darker shade of reddish orange liquor. The smell maintained a pleasant citrusy mint and spice character. The body was very slightly heavier, although still in the medium class. The taste was comparable to the first infusion, perhaps lightening up very slightly all around. The second infusion was just as good of an overall quality as the first cup.
The third infusion produced a liquor that was very similar to the second infusion, having a nice reddish orange color. The aroma lightened up slightly, but is still very similar to earlier infusions. The body and flavor of the liquor has lightened slightly from the second infusion, but is still a good tasting tea. I enjoyed every last drop of this third infusion.
The infused leaves had a uniform greenish brown color, with very little variance. The leaves averaged 1.75 inches (45 mm) in length, with the longest leaf at about 2.25 inches (57 mm). Many of the leaves were perfectly intact, with no bare stems whatsoever. Breakage is below 50%. Leaves have a pleasant citrusy and slightly roasty aroma. Leaves have some structural durability, suggesting that one more acceptable infusion may be possible. The long and broad leaves appear to be of very good quality.
Overall I am very pleased with this Red Jade black tea from Easy Tea Hard Choice. The long wiry dry leaves excited me from the beginning. The aroma was very refreshing and unique. The taste was well balanced and nicely layered, with a sweet aftertaste being left behind. I hope that these Taiwan black teas gain some popularity in the U.S. market, because I am beginning to highly prefer them over other popular black teas. I admire the broad and full leaves, and the obvious hand twisted appearance. This is a very good product, and one that I look forward to enjoying again.
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