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. This lake’s climate, environment, and 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 between three distinct cultivars: a pure-stock Assam, a native indigenous cultivar, and a hybrid cultivar named #18.
Our #18 crosses pure-stock Assam with the native indigenous cultivar. Called "Hong Yu" or "Red Jade" by the local Taiwanese, #18 is the result of nearly 50 years of research by the Taiwanese Tea Research and Extension Station.
This tea is organically grown and produced in Yuchih, the village that borders Sun Moon Lake. The leaves were picked mid-May in the early morning. They were then wilted naturally, rolled, bruised and left to oxidize on covered bamboo trays until the next day when they were roasted, baked and dried.
The result is a one of the most wonderful teas we have tasted. One of our customers likened it to black tea 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.