Red Jade, a.k.a. Taiwan Tea #18, is a hybrid large leaf cultivar that is unique to Taiwan. The indigenous wild tea tree that grows naturally in the mountain forests of Taiwan was cross-bred with the Assam strain from India. This initially occurred naturally when the Japanese introduced the Assam strain to the Sun Moon Lake area of Taiwan in the early 20th century. Chinese immigrants to this area had already been cultivating the indigenous tea strain, which eventually cross-pollinated with the new Assam strain.
It's a hardy, prolific cultivar that grows very well in low to mid-elevation environs, given its indigenous heritage. Our source practices natural farming, with zero pesticides, and only occasional natural fertilizer. They allow the trees to grow much higher than a conventional tea farm as well. This allows the roots to grow bigger and deeper — providing more sustenance for the plants. Harvesting newly sprouted leaves from these tea trees that are allowed to grow more naturally is particularly challenging, and sometimes requires ladders!
We had sold out of our fall 2021 in early spring, and although our source harvested a small crop in early April, we waited until second flush to source a new batch. This is due the fact that the best Black Tea is produced from late spring to fall in Taiwan. The hotter weather results in higher concentration of the polyphenols in the leaves that provide flavor and aroma. Our first batch was harvested at the end of May. Spring came in slowly this year in Taiwan however, and it didn't really get hot until June. This resulted in a very pleasant, mellow version of Red Jade's classically bold and somewhat intense flavor profile. We actually like it this way, because it balanced and substantial, but not overly pronounced with Red Jade's distinguished mint, cinnamon and clove notes.
We then visited our source in late July to procure some more of our Eco-Farmed Four Seasons Spring Oolong Tea. He was withering the prior day's harvest of Red Jade in his home factory, as seen below. After this crop was cured, we got a sample and brewed it side by side with our late May batch. The differences were noticeable. The July batch had a more pronounced aromatic profile, with a more obvious Red Jade character.
So now we are inspired to share both of these batches together, for a limited time, in order to provide you with the experience of how each harvest is unique. Same farm, same factory, same tea maker —just two consecutive growing seasons a couple of months apart! Watch the tasting video for the full story! Even better, grab the current batch of Red Jade Black Tea now!
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