Organic Formosa Red, no. 18
Black tea crafting in Taiwan was initiated by the Japanese in 1903. In 1926, the first Assam cultivar was introduced and planted around the hills of Sun Moon Lake in Nantou County. That Sun Moon Lake was the designated growing region was no coincidence, its climate and environment, its terroir, was deemed the most similar to the Assam tea gardens of India. Today, Sun Moon Lake produces the bulk of Taiwan’s black tea across three distinct cultivars: a pure-stock Assam, a native indigenous cultivar, and a hybrid cultivar named #18.
Our #18 crosses pure-stock Assam with a native indigenous cultivar. Called “Hong Yu”, or “Red Jade” by the local Taiwanese, #18 is a result of nearly 50 years of research by the Taiwanese Tea Research and Extension Station. It was grown and crafted by a grower in Yuchih, the village that borders Sun Moon Lake. We arrived in the middle of a seven day harvest period and acquired 80 catties of the tea from the grower, picked and crafted May 6th and 7th, 2010.
The tea is organically grown and produced. Once hand-picked in the early morning, the leaves are allowed to naturally wilt before a quick rolling. The bruised leaves then sit overnight and into the next day on covered bamboo trays to oxidize before they are roasted and then baked dried.
The result is a one of the most interestingly wonderful teas we have tasted. One of our customers likened it to black with cream and sugar already added. We think the tea is sweet, smooth and rich, with hints of bourbon, honey and cream, but with a slightly deeper and more complex character.
Water Temperature: 205°, or near boiling
Brewing Instructions: Use 2 teaspoons (3 for a medium sized pot). Rinse tea for 1 second. Discard rinse water. Steep for 2 minutes. May be infused multiple times.