April 21, 2017

Teaful - Taste of Taiwan Chapter 2

Image: First infusion of Teaful's Ruby #18

Attention tea drinkers, 2017 is the year of Taiwanese black teas! At least in my book, and thankfully the second chapter of Teaful's Taste of Taiwan includes two black teas. One was a Ruby 18 and the other was an Assam, originally from India by way of Japan, grown in the Sun Moon Lake region. The other two teas are a milk oolong and a baozhong. I like the oolongs, who doesn't like Taiwanese oolongs?! But I really enjoyed the black teas. My local source for Taiwanese black tea is Te Company where I usually order the Petite Noir. Chapter 1 of Teaful's Taste of Taiwan had a high mountain black tea, a green tea, and two oolongs.

During the first session with each tea, I adhered to the instructions provided on each tea packet which is a vacuumed sealed foil bag. In terms of the amount of tea used, the information presented is use "a teaspoon or 5 grams" for 8 ounces of water. A teaspoon of tea often does not weigh 5 grams as I wrote about in my earlier post this week titled, How Much Tea is in a Teaspoon?. For example, a teaspoon of baozhong is 1 gram and of milk oolong is 2 grams. I used 5 grams of tea in all four cases. For the first infusion I used the lower end of the steep time given and increased subsequent steeps by 30 seconds to reach the maximum steep time given.

Baozhong

This fall 2016 green oolong was grown in Pinglin in Taipei County. The twisted leaves released a sweet and salty tasting liquor with sweet and very floral flavors. A second infusion revealed green and juicy flavors with a slight acidity. The final infusion was more vegetal than floral. The infused leaves had a mineral fragrance.


Milk oolong
Another fall 2016 tea this time from Minjian in Nantou County. The small tightly balled leaves unfurled to reveal shockingly large leaves. The dry leaves smelled like a milk oolong - creamy, grainy, and sweet. The first infusion's liquor was consistent with the smell of the dry leaves. The second infusion was less intense but the buttery mouthfeel lingered on my palate. I could still detect the sweet grain flavor. The tail note was all vegetal.


Ruby #18
Harvested in summer 2016 from Sun Moon Lake, this black tea has dusky black leaves with golden and red tips. The dry leaves smelled warm, sweet, and hoppy. The rinsed leves smelled of roasted yam and camphor. The amber verging on copper liquor of the first infusion had a big taste that was both sweet and bitter and reflected the smell of the roasted yam and camphor of the dry leaves. There was a bananas foster tail note (did I imagine this?) as well as spicy (read: cinnamon) top notes. The liquor was medium bodied. The second infusion was similar enough to the first one that I did not take notes while the third infusion became more camphorous with increased astringency and bitterness. In a subsequent session with this tea I did not experience any bitterness.


Assam
Like the Ruby #18, this black tea is a summer 2016 harvest from Sun Moon Lake. Wiry twisted dark colored leaves with reddish highlights smelled sweet, grainy, and spicy. The copper colored first infusion was rich tasting and medium bodied. The liquor was malty, brisk, smooth, sweet, and fruity - a lot of flavor in one tea. I could have added milk but did not. Oh, for this tea, I used 6 ounces of water and not 8 ounces as I did for the previous teas. You could used 8 ounces if you like but I appreciate the rich profile. The second infusion was still malty but brisker and thinner bodied. The third infusion was a well balanced cup of sweetness, malty, brisk bordering on bitter, and savory spices. Surprisingly it had more body than the second infusion and this cup's flavors lingered in my throat, a burned flavor of unknown origin.

Image: Second infusion of Teaful's Assam

The four teas in the this chapter of Teaful's Taste of Taiwan were very good in a second session where I used 2.5 grams of tea to 6 ounces of water (195F for the oolongs and 200F for the blacks). The black teas shone!

Taste of Taiwan Chapter 2 was provided by Teaful.

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