July 26, 2016

Totem Tea - Ruby 18 Taiwanese Black

Have you ever considered about blogging about one type of tea? Not a class of tea like Taiwanese oolong or Japanese green tea but a specific cultivar? Ruby 18 has its own website! Ruby 18 is a black tea from the Sun Lake Moon area in Taiwan. The cultivar, a cross between Camellia sinensis var. assamica and the Chin Shin cultivar originally from Taiwan, was developed by the Taiwan Tea Research and Experiment Station and released in 1999.

The Ruby 18 I drank is from Totem Tea. The Ruby 18 profile runs the gamut of the flavor wheel. Floral, fruit, woody, and herbaceous. The long, wiry, and black dry leaves smell sweet, like maple and dried fruit, and malty. The liquor is not ruby red but it's on the Assam spectrum.

I steeped 5 grams of the 7 gram sample in 195F water in a 6 ounce capacity taiwan. I rinsed the leaves for 5 seconds then steeped for 60 seconds. The liquor was copper, reddish amber. I detected flowers and camphor or menthol though not mint. I've read that this note could be licorice. I don't enjoy licorice but I do like this tea. The second steep was also 60 seconds. The liquor tasted of camphor, freshly sawn cedar, and deep dried fruit (think prunes). The earlier floral aroma might have been spearmint flowers. The tea was slightly dry and overall woody and spicy. The infused leaves smelled of menthol. The third and fourth steeps of 60 seconds yielded a dry liquor with a cooling sensation.

The camphor note was heightened after steeping the leaves for 3 minutes. There was a pleasant bitterness. The infused leaves smelled of maple syrup. The next steep also of 3 minutes also yielded camphor notes with tail notes of hops and walnut. The final steep of 5 minutes still produced camphor and hops notes as well as malt flavor.

Ruby 18 is a unique, complex tea. It is highly enjoyable to drink. The wealth of notes it yields is impressive. You can drink this tea as I did hot in the summer because of the cooling effect. The woody and dried fruit notes might be amplified in colder months.

Tea courtesy of Totem Tea.

P.S. It was my intention to post my tasting notes of three Bai Hao oolongs including one from Totem Tea but my #ITEIteaschool binder is in one of the unpacked moving boxes without an itemized list of contents.

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