This is the final stop of our Ruby 18 journey. Over the last two weeks, we tasted the “mother” and “father” of the Ruby 18 and what an adventure it has been. Now it is time to taste the Ruby 18!
Description: “Mint, spices, red fruit and strong black tea.”
Instructions: Gong Fu Style: 5g per 100ml | 95°C (205°F) | 30, 45, 60 then add +15 seconds to taste (Note: these are the instructions from the label, as the website had slightly different recommendations)
Review: This three part series came to fruition because of Mountain Stream Teas’ Ruby 18 origin tasting set. It contained a Burmese Assamica (mother/flower), a Camellia Formosensis (father/pollen), and Ruby 18 (hybrid) black teas. The teas came from a farm in the Sun Moon area (where Ruby 18 was originally developed) growing all three side-by-side. Mountain Stream Teas experienced tasting the teas together and then decided to offer the same to others! These comparison sets are so useful, so I knew I had to share it with everyone!
The dry leaves of the Ruby 18 were jet black and wiry. While similar to both the Burmese Assamica and the Camellia Formosensis, it visually looked more like the Camellia Formosensis which it was thinner and smaller. The leaves smelled roasted, charcoal, woody, and medicinal with hints of cherries and grapes.
Pre-warmed gaiwan: After adding the dry leaves to the warmed vessel, the leaves had a sweet fruity, roasted, nutty, earthy, and cherries smell.
Infusion 1 (30 seconds): The liquor quickly became a reddish amber colour with a roasted, charcoal, and fruity smell. The liquor had a charcoal, damp earth, and mineral taste and was drying at the back of the throat.
Infusion 2 (40 seconds): The colour and smell of the liquor was a similar to Infusion 1. Tastewise, it was much more complex with notes of cherries, damp earth, licorice, and baked foods. Astringency coated the teeth and was drying at the back of the throat.
Infusion 3 (60 seconds): After a minute, the liquor was a much darker cooper brown colour and had less of a red undertone. The smell was still roasted and charcoal. The tannins were forefront in the liquor and it had notes of fruit and damp earth.
Infusion 4 (1 minute and 15 seconds): While the roasted smell still remained, the flavour was much more mellow and was mostly drying with hints of charcoal and mineral.
The wet leaves were reddish chocolate brown with a sweet, earthy metallic smell. The leaves looked more like the Camellia Formosensis with its milk chocolate colour.
During my tasting session, I paired the tea with a black forest chocolate cake. The cherries and chocolate notes of the cake highlighted those flavours in the Ruby 18. The cream of the cake also cut away at some of the dryness of the tea.
I have to say, the origin set was a great learning experience and it was really fun to taste the “mother” and “father” teas and then taste the hybrid. I would strongly recommend trying this set or a set like it if you have the chance! I definitely learned a lot.
Overall, it is no surprise that the Ruby 18 was similar to both the Burmese Assamica and Camellia Formosensis. The appearance of the Ruby 18 was thinner and more wiry like the Camellia Formosensis and they both shared the stronger astringency. The Burmese Assamica came through mostly in the first few infusions with the sweeter fruiter notes. To me, the Ruby 18 was more similar to the Camellia Formosensis. While I don’t generally enjoy more astringent teas, this was nerveless a great learning experience (3/5 rating).
- Type: Black tea
- Origin: Taiwan, Yuchi, Nantou, Sun Moon Lake Area
- Caffeine: Unknown
- Ingredients: Black tea
- Company: Mountain Stream Teas
The question of the post: Which tea would you like to try – Burmese Assamica (mother/flower), Camellia Formosensis (father/pollen), or Ruby 18 (hybrid)?