The dried leaves above exhibit the premium batch of Red Jade #18 Black Tea being offered as batch 84 of the Eco-Cha Tea Club. This crop was picked in early July, while it was still immature and tender. Summer crops are the best leaf material for optimal results in a full flavored composition for Black Tea specifically. Stronger sunlight and hotter weather produce higher concentrations of catechins in the leaves, resulting in a fuller aromatic and flavor profile. Full oxidation of these compounds is necessary to achieve a balanced composition that is not overly astringent.
Red Jade is unquestionably the most distinctive character of Black Tea that we have experienced. It has a bold aromatic and flavor profile that includes notes of cloves, camphor, cinnamon, menthol, palm sugar, bergamot, and more! It's just packed with a very unique composition that sets it apart from other Black Teas, and teas in general!
Given its bold and sometimes fickle composition, it's definitely worth paying attention to detail when brewing these leaves. For gong fu style brewing in a small tea pot, we've found that a ratio of about 1:18 leaf to water is about as concentrated as you want to go, and you can easily go lighter and still produce a full flavored brew. We recommend using about 90°C water and brewing for 40-45 seconds for the first two or three brews then increasing about 10 seconds with each successive brew. To decrease the water temperature, we just pour the boiling temp water into a second pitcher (for water only) first, then immediately pour the water from the pitcher into the tea pot to brew the leaves. We're only guessing really, but it seems to drop the water temp by 7-10°C in the process. At any rate, we get consistently good results with this "sans thermometer" method.
Red Jade also works exceptionally well in a cold brew! Start with a 1:200 ratio and adjust from there, e.g. 5g of tea leaves for 1 L of water. Brew at room temp for 3 hours, or put in the fridge overnight to enjoy the next day. And last but certainly not least, it makes the bomb iced tea! Brew hot, chill, pour over ice in a tumbler, and SHAKE IT UP!
We intentionally offered a Small Leaf Black Tea as Batch 83, followed by this batch of large leaf Red Jade #18 to allow our Tea Club members to experience two very different characters of Black Tea. These two tea types are also the most popular types of Black Tea produced in Taiwan. They stand distinctly apart from each other in their characteristics for very specific and obvious reasons. We feel like this is a good learning experience of a lesser known side of the spectrum of world class teas from Taiwan!
Watch the tasting video for the full detailed take on Batch 84 of the Eco-Cha Tea Club!
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