Bring you to the new experience
Red Jade Black Tea (TTES No. 18)
The exuberant and exotic aromatics of Taiwan oolongs is undisputed in the tea world. Nowhere can we duplicate Taiwan's rich terroir for tea growing. Consequently, it comes as no surprise that Taiwan's offering in black teas can be equally fragrant and expressive! One of it's most impressive and representative black tea is undoubtedly Red Jade (Hong Yu in Chinese and sometimes referred to as Ruby tea).
Its beautiful Bao Zhong style twisted leaves are of the recently introduced TTES-18 hybrid which is a cross between an Assamica strain from Burma and a local wild tea strain. Developed by the Tea Research and Extension Station's Yuchih branch, this unique varietal proposes the full character and body of an Assam with exuberant fruity notes of wild plums, hints of cinnamon and a fresh menthol finish. This black tea is surprisingly generous and may be re-steeped several times similarly to it's famous Taiwanese oolong cousins.
The majestic Sun Moon Lake's plateau of rolling hills in Central Nantou county provides the perfect setting for this one of kind tea. This beautiful scenic area of Taiwan has a long history with black tea cultivation that dates back to the 1920's, when the island was under the colonial rule of Japan. After the demise of Japan at the conclusion of WW II, the black tea plantations fell into disuse and the land was converted to other crops. It is only since the aftermath of the devastating earthquake of Sept. 1999 that a renewed interest resurfaced.
Yuchih township was hit particularly hard by the 9-21 quake. Several villages were completely destroyed, not only by the tremors but also by devastating landslides that destroyed crops as well as houses. Beforehand, the predominant crop was that of the betel nut palm trees and many local residents pondered if they should reconsider replanting these shallow routed trees which proved to be detrimental to soil stability. Local and government officials came to the same conclusions that the Japanese made 80 years before. The soil, climate and geography of the area was perfect for tea and even more, black tea! Furthermore, a new strand had just been developped: the now famous TRES-18 hybrid which proves to be particularly well suited for this area. In a few short years, many new tea farms have emerged that specialise in this value-added crop. The retrieval of Taiwan's black tea heritage seems to have helped a ruined community be reborn from the rubble and gain a new lease of life.
It is comforting to know that tea enthusiasts can modestly contribute to the success of this turn around with each Red Jade cup they drink. The effort needed to do so is less than painful considering the truly remarkable and distinct experience it brings!
Origin: Yuchih township, Nantou county, Taiwan
Elevation: 700m to 1200m