When a tea has such a brilliant name, my expectation from it becomes very high. However, judging this tea was not easy since it is considerably different from other black teas I have ever tried. For me, this was the first Taiwanese black tea I have ever tried. The seller is really good with informing the buyers about their teas and apparently, this tea comes from a unique cultivar that was created through crossing a native Taiwanese tea plant with an Assam cultivar coming from Myanmar. I am therefore drinking a hybrid tea which would not possibly grow anywhere else. According to the seller’s description, Taiwan Tea Experimental Station spent over 50 years perfecting the breeding program in order to release this cultivar in 2003. How special is that! If this is not enough, this tea also won the main prize during one of the 2019 national competitions in Taiwan. A true masterpiece indeed!
The first thing I did was to smell the dry leaves. There was no special scent there. Nothing overpowering or interesting. When I brewed it, I could not believe how red (hence the name ruby) the leaves became. The aroma of the wet leaves was more prominent but again I could tell that there were some floral notes and some vegetal ones! Then I tasted it, it was possibly the smoothest black tea I have ever tasted in my life. No astringency, no sweetness, no bitterness. But it was refreshing! How come? Strange sensations as this tea makes me doubt myself and re-smell, re-brew, re-taste. I loved the whole experience.
The seller again describes the tasting profile with strong menthol and camphor notes. Not sure if I agree, I kind of understand the menthol. I did not get the camphor but I got lots of complex layers of aromas. I should brew some more.
I came to think that by drinking this tea, I am probably scratching the surface of Taiwanese teas that are not only limited with fantastic oolongs. I promise to myself, I will go there one day, and find this very cultivar.
Harvest time: Late summer 2019
Leave colour: Dark brown/black with red edges
Liquor colour: Ruby
Tea aroma: Subtle floral and woody notes
Tea taste: Very complex multi-layered flavours with a smooth and refreshing taste (citrus kicks-in after the third steeping)
Steeping/brewing:You can use around 100°C water temperature and brew for up to one minute in gongfu style or up to three minutes in Western-style. You can brew the leaves many times (until the taste is lost). To each infusion add additional time. Experiment for a result that suits your taste.
Shelf life: Up to 3 years (or perhaps more)