This is the second post in a mini-series of three about the Taiwanese black teas I bought from House of Tea back in mid-October.
As was the case with the Assam Taiwan I looked at earlier, the raw material used in this tea originates in Yu Chi township of Nantou county, and is of the TTES 21 cultivar, known as Hong Yun to its friends.
Hong Yun is a very interesting cultivar, being a cross between a Keemun cultivar and an Assamica cultivar that originally came from the Kyang region of Nepal. The Keemun cultivar isn’t explicitly named, but I’d guess it will be the Zhu Ye Zhong cultivar, the one most widely used in Keemun production. If you know better, please let me know.
House of Tea’s notes inform us that the leaves grew at an elevation of about 800 metres, and were hand plucked. The tea was produced by a Mr. Lee on a family owned tea plantation that has been growing tea since the Japanese era in Taiwan.
As I understand it Hong Yun production is rather limited, and the tea can often command higher prices than similar black teas from the same region of Taiwan.
My gut feeling told me to go with a gong-fu approach with this tea.
House of Tea’s brewing advice noted that a slightly lower water temperature would be needed to bring out the tea’s honey like qualities, so I went with the recommended 85°C.
The dry leaf didn’t have all that much to say for itself bar a whisper about something fruity, but after a few seconds in the warmed up pot I picked up the aromas of freshly baked cookies, heavy cream, and, yes, warm honey.
Water Used: Filtered tap water
Weight of dry leaf: 7 grams
Steeping vessel: 150 ml porcelain gaiwan
Water temperature: 85°C
No. & duration: 8 infusions of 5, 10, 15, 20, 30, 50, 90, 180 seconds duration
The first, quickfire infusion resulted in a liquor that was already luscious and creamy, one that was packing a wheaty kind of sweetness that had me thinking of toast made from wholemeal bread.
The second round saw an appearance from the fruitiness I’ve come to expect from Taiwanese black teas, but here rather than being reminiscent purely of lychees it came across as some kind of hybrid that included hints of blueberry tartness. Rounding off the taste profile was that honey thing.
The third steeping saw another interesting addition to the flavours in my teacup – a spicy, cinnamon, peppery note. The lower water temperature and the moreish nature of the very tasty liquor was making the tea all too easy to steep, pour, and swig, and I was having to make a real effort to slow the pace of the session down.
During the next round I experienced a slight but quite noticeable Qi bump, something that rarely happens when drinking non-sheng teas. This infusion also saw the first indication that the quality of the liquor was slipping.
Despite bumping up the infusion times to compensate for this, subsequent rounds saw a gradual tail-off, and the old feeling that I was paddling a kayak against an outgoing tide, until by the end of the 8th round I reluctantly called time on the session. Still, eight rounds seemed fair enough.
Just to satisfy my curiosity I think I’ll have to find time in the future to see how well this tea stands up to a Western style session in a larger pot. Watch this space, etc…
All in all this was another very pleasant encounter with a new-to-me Taiwanese black tea.