Sourcing story: Taiwanese Black Tea Ruby-18
Black tea is the most consumed tea (about 90%) in the world. But can it be enjoyed pure without adding milk and sugar?
Before I started Clarity Tea, me and our team challenged ourselves to find a black tea which can be enjoyed pure without adding anything. We think a good black tea should be flavourful but won’t have any side effects like overpowering bitterness and strong caffeine kicks.
What makes Taiwanese black tea special?
Black tea is full oxidized tea which creates the bold and full body flavour. However, the black tea from different countries all have their characters, just like other gourmet ingredients. The style of Taiwan tea is to show the natural taste through pure craftsmanship of tea making, not blending. So most of the tea makers use a single tea variety to make unflavoured black tea.
Because the tea variety sets the undertone of tea.
Read it again:
The tea variety [type of coffee beans / grapes] sets the undertone [ foundational taste and aroma] of tea [coffee / wine].
Taste and Characters
Taiwanese black tea has a well balanced taste of smooth and bold, it is not too dry (astringent) on your and gives some extra earthy and sweet flavour in the end. The character of this tea is minty, spicy and sometimes a bit earthy, but it is a challenge for tea makers to find a good balance.
Read on to find out why we choose this specific one among others.
How did we find this tea?
I found my favorite tea maker through my tea mentor over a casual tea tasting session in April 2020. After a phone call, we soon drove into the mountains to visit him the next day. We are very lucky to meet Mr LIU because he usually spends 6-8 months in China teaching other tea makers.
Like any other tea makers we've visited, he's very enthusiast about his works. I call him an Aficionado of Taiwanese black tea.
After a very brief visit to his small but well functioning tea factory, I kept searching for other tea around that area. But I still went back to him because of his magically tasty black tea.
I kept visiting him for another month and learnt many tasting techniques from him. Finally, he showed me his secret after my fourth visit. It was a magical adventure.
(Roasted chicken made by grandma LIU)
In order to visit his secret tea garden, we changed from his Mercedes to an old four-by-four.
“Buckle up, and try not to scream,” he said. After a very bumpy 15-min drive (almost like a desert safari), we reached his full organic tea garden in Yu-Chi.
“I don’t normally visit this garden because we practice organic agriculture. It was difficult in the first 5 years, but now I only need to check it a few days in a month.”
His organic garden & the tea
His tea garden is one of the hidden gems that has been certified organic since 2016. “It was very difficult to find a clean tea garden in Taiwan because of the land size,” he said, “ even my father didn’t support me, I almost gave up.”
*The size of Taiwan is only 0.4% of India.*
I could clearly see many tea plants weren’t that “perfectly in full size” because of the insect bites.
And there were many bugs and worms between bushes as well which is the direct proof of a biodiversity tea garden. There are many reasons for practicing organic agriculture, ‘Cha-Chi” (the taste and energy of tea) is one of the most important ones for Mr. Liu.
“You can directly feel a big difference when you drink my tea, it won’t give you headache or discomfort even if you drink it all day long.” He said that proudly.