For a fan of Taiwanese oolongs, I haven’t gotten around to trying many Taiwanese blacks. Thanks to Fong Mong for the sample. I steeped 6 g of leaf in a 120 ml teapot at 185F for 10, 12, 15, 18, 20, 25, 30, 40, 50, 60, 90, 120, and 240 seconds.
In the pot, the long, wiry leaves smell like grapes, sassafras, and malt. The first steep is a coppery combination of tannins, sweet grape, sassafras, cinnamon, wood, and malt, with a long, drying finish and a bit of a menthol tingle. Unlike other Ruby 18s I’ve tried, this one doesn’t taste like liquorice (which is a good thing in my books). In the second steep, the grape gets even sweeter, almost like grape jelly, and lingers into the aftertaste.
Steeping this tea at 180F reduces the astringency and makes the grape and sassafras pop even more. By the fifth steep, malt, minerals, and some vegetal notes start becoming more prominent, though the lovely grape/sassafras combination is still very much there. It only starts to dwindle in the final couple steeps, which shows great longevity for a black tea.
This is an approachable, sweet, and long-lasting Ruby 18 with lots of flavour (and caffeine). It doesn’t have the overwhelming astringency that I’ve found in other Taiwanese blacks, especially if brewed at lower temperatures. It’s also a good value for the price.
ETA: I don’t know why there isn’t a flavour option for sassafras. Should I put it under something else?
Flavors: Cinnamon, Drying, Grapes, Malt, Menthol, Mineral, Sweet, Tannic, Vegetal, Wood